Orange Street, also known as ‘beat street’, was the birthplace of many reggae, ska and rocksteady artists, as well as the area where these genres were championed – especially in the 1960s and 70s. We asked Mitchie Williams of Rockers International, one of the street’s last remaining record shops, to put together a playlist evoking the area’s glory days
Orange Street in downtown Kingston was once the heart and soul of Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae. The street and the surrounding area helped give one of the most important music genres of the 20th century to the world; the first ska recordings were made at Studio One on Brentford Road just around the corner from Orange Street. The street itself was alive with record shops and recording studios, and legends such as Dennis Brown and Prince Buster were even born on the street. Sadly, as with much of downtown Kingston, it’s a very different place today – dubbed Ghost Street by locals – but there are still a handful of studios and vinyl record shops flying the flag, and the area is a must-see for music fans visiting Kingston.
Stepping into the fabulous Randy’s records and recording studio (upstairs at 17 North Parade) is like going back in time (check out this gallery of Randy’s back in the day), while Rockers International exports vinyl to reggae fans all over the world and was refurbishing the store when I visited. We asked Rockers’ manager Mitchie Williams to compile a tribute to Orange Street’s pioneering (and speaker-throbbing) spirit.