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Orange Street, Vestige of the Golden Age of Reggae

Orange Street, Vestige of the Golden Age of Reggae

Orange Street, Vestige of the Golden Age of Reggae

By on - Photos by Ratiba Hamzaoui - 4 comments

Report on what was once Kingston's music street.

It was once called "beat street" or "music street". If the beat stopped decades ago, Orange Street, located in downtown Kingston, is still considered as the birth place of many Jamaican entertainers as well as the adopted home of already established artists.

This epicentre of Jamaican music saw the blooming of best producers, singers, musicians, from the rhythm and blues to the reggae. At one point or another, they all had some form of contact with the street. Dennis Brown, who was born on 135, Orange Street, Prince Buster, Sir Coxsone Dodd, Winston Riley, Joe Gibbs, Bob Marley... The list is long.

That was then, from the sixties to the beginning of the eighties, before the political violences tore the street apart. Now, the front windows alone can testify of those glorious times. Orange Street looks like a shadow of its former years, and is now called "ghost street".

The beat is not audible anymore on Orange street, but the revival of vinyl in the world could give a new breath of life to this legendary street.

Orange Street
"It was a lot of fun, as traffic used to move up and down, and it was always filled with people"
, remembers artist and producer Clancy Eccles. "We used to play football at nights and there was a lot of music."

Orange Street
Deserted since the eighties, Orange street is now occupied by cabinet makers and empty bars.

Orange Street
Before entering Orange Street, the vinyl lover can make a first stop at Randy's. Above a grocery store stands the most famous vinyl store opened in the sixties.

Orange Street
It all started in 1959 when Vincent "Randy" Chin opened his first record shop at the corner of East and Barry Street in downtown Kingston.

Orange Street
Vincent "Randy" Chin
acquired the name Randy's from a United States late night show entitled Randy's Record Shop. A listener to that programme, Chin decided to name his record shop and record label after it.

Orange Street
A few years ago, when passers by discovered this freshly painted new building at 99 Orange Street, they may have wondered if the owner had lost his mind. A record shop and a museum occupy the ground floor, but most impressive was the high tech studio situated upstairs. This 50 million dollar investment was made in 2009 by Jamaican producer Winston Riley. Should the visitor be surprised or shocked, Winston Riley was "positive" and proud about his project. He said "Orange Street will be the way it once was."

Orange Street
Ready to be launched, the huge project did not have the time to be opened. Winston Riley (photo by Beth Lesser) was shot, and he died in January 2012. His son has not commented yet on what he intended to do.

Orange Street
The sound of handsaws overcame reggae music. Most of the mythical studios and vinyls stores are now occupied by cabinet makers.

Orange Street
Prince Buster
, born in 1938, played a crucial role in Jamaican music, especially in ska and rocksteady.

Orange Street
"I was born on Orange street, so it had to be on Orange Street"
, declared Prince Buster. "Orange Street is the street that only can bring a lot of money back in the country through tourism, if they would fix it up in the proper way. People want to know the history of Orange Street, and we should tell them - because what we tell them is not a story but history."

Orange Street
Dennis Brown
is the pride of Orange street, where he was born in 1957, at number 135, and where he spent his formative years.

Orange Street
Dennis Brown
was honoured last year with the Order of Distinction commander class. The Dennis Brown Day celebrations take place at this intersection every year.

Orange Street
One record shop decided not to "move on, move up(town)" and has stayed opened since 1978: Rockers International.

Orange Street
Augustus Pablo
, "king of melodica", has been immortalized right in front of the store he opened in 1978.

Orange Street
Addis Pablo
, 23 years old son of the late Augustus Pablo, is in charge of the record shop. "From Monday to Saturday, we open the shop early, because the business day ends at five in this area."
"I operate my father's company, including record shop, giving assistance, ordering, making orders as well for records and media related items."

Orange Street
Recognized as a melodica player, Addis Pablo is getting ready to tour in Europe next year.

Orange Street
After many years working at Techniques Records, Mitchie is now the manager of Rockers International.

Orange Street
Tuff Gong International was founded by Bob Marley in 1965. Originally based on Orange Street, it moved to 56 Hope Road, where the Bob Marley Museum is now located.

Orange Street
Located now on 220 Marcus Garvey Drive, Tuff Gong recently decided to revive its vinyl production.

Orange Street
The revival of vinyl in the world could give a new breath of life to Orange Street.

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Read comments (4)

Posted by Jacqueline Banton on 09.16.2014
Dear Sir/Madam,

On Wednesday 10/Thursday 11 September 2014 thieves broke into the home of my father Mark Banton in Enfield St Mary Jamaica and stole his entire record collection. My father Mark Banton is the co founder of the 1957 South London sound system the Mighty Merritone.

My father now 82 and a returnee to his beloved Jamaica has said that it is as if his "heart has been ripped" from his body.

The family are at a loss what to do and are asking/appealing to the press and radio stations to broadcast and request the return of these records the sentimental value they hold cannot be expressed...

A reward is being offered...

Please contact me Jacqueline Banton should you require any further information on UK +447976 895 676 or Mr Seymour Stewart Attorney at Law Jamaica 357 1516.

Please help...

Regards and respect ,

Jacqueline Banton

Posted by Imad Hamza on 09.23.2014
Very nice site and I think I get what im looking for. Thanks

Posted by pecossound on 09.11.2015
Very informative story with those true Reggae music foundation artist, labels, record shops all from this important Orange Street. Great photos to add a special touch. It makes you have the old Rasta Vibe reading the story. Great, Great job may Jah Bless.

Posted by Rene Zemog on 07.05.2016
I'm visiting Jamaica for the first time later this year. I know Beat street won't be the romantic imagen i had in my mind for as long as i remember, but i still want to stand there and feel the history.
Could anyone please give me some pointers, record stores, places to see? I will appreciated it so much!

Comments actually desactivated due to too much spams

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