Duke Vin: sound system pioneer


Friday, November 16, 2012

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In commemoration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer's Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country's culture. This week we feature Duke Vin.

JAMAICAN-BORN sound sytem operator Duke Vin has died. A key figure in British reggae, he passed away in London last Saturday.

No cause of death was given in the British press. He was in his mid 80s.

Duke Vin started his career as a selector in the early 1950s for pioneer sound system operator Thomas 'Tom The Great Sebastian' Wong.

In 1954, he moved to the United Kingdom, as a stowaway on a boat from Kingston. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Duke Vin built the UK's first sound system, The Tickler, which helped popularise ska in that country.

During the 1960s, Duke Vin played at London's top West End clubs including the original Marquee Club and The Flamingo.

He was a founder of the Notting Hill Carnival in 1973 and, despite suffering a major stroke, played the event for 37 years.

"People just love my music and there is in fact nothing like it at Carnival. People of all nationalities come together to listen and dance to the music. I just love it, love it. It is in me, it's in my blood. It is my life. Death has to retire me " he told the BBC three years ago.

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