Interiors and Exteriors
Art and Design
Objects and Antiquities

Tuesday, March 11


When sites of great historical and cultural import are left to decay, the chance to glimpse their former greatness is often lost in the rot. Not so with Randy’s Studio 17. It is, it would seem, its rot which gives it life. Located at 16-17 North Parade in the heart of downtown Kingston, Jamaica, what was once Randy’s Studio sits above an empty shop that was once Randy’s Record Mart. Used now only as a storage room, the array of old recording equipment and abandoned instruments warped and cracked by decades of tropical humidity stand as reminders of the seminal recordings once made in this room – a room that measures barely 20’ x 20’. My host Carl points to a dusty organ in the corner with broken keys and partly obscured by a sagging cardboard box. “You see that? That’s the one that made the sound on the Wailers’ ‘Mr. Brown.’” 

Opened in 1969 by Chinese-Jamaican entrepreneur Vincent “Randy” Chin, Randy’s Studio 17 would produce hits by Bob Marley, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Alton Ellis, Big Youth, Toots and the Maytals, Dennis Brown, Augustus Pablo and countless others, before closing its doors in 1979. On a daily basis, musicians hoping for a shot at local stardom, or at least a chance to be hired as session players, congregated daily in the laneway beside Randy’s, a laneway that soon took the name "Idler’s Rest." While North Parade still bustles with fruit sellers, taxis, and the odd pick-pocket, music no longer booms from the speakers of Randy’s record shop and Idler’s Rest offers few clues of the greats and the aspiring unknowns who once leaned up against its walls. Yet in the back room, on the second floor at #16-17, surely the ghosts still dance and sing.

-Guest contributor T Jardim

1 comment:

  1. Great article, thanks. Very sad that this isn't a museum, its jamaican history...