Randy’s records

Mike Atherton celebrates 50 years of a legendary Jamaican record company

Randy’s records

From its beginnings as a shop selling former jukebox discs, named after a Tennessee record distributor, VP Records is now the biggest reggae recording and distribution company in the world – and still in the hands of the family that founded it. A new 2-CD/DVD set has just been released to mark five decades of the label known to the record-collecting world as Randy’s.

Like many of the early players in the Jamaican music industry (Leslie Kong, Justin Yap, the recently departed Charlie Moo), Vincent Chin’s family origins lay in China. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1937, and the son of a carpenter who made the move from China in the 20s, Chin’s schooldays witnessed a burgeoning fascination with US radio programmes, particularly a rhythm & blues show sponsored by Randy’s Record Mart of Gallatin, Tennessee.

Chin’s fascination with the show saw his schoolfriends dub him ‘Randy’ – a nickname that would stay with him for the rest of his life. His first job on leaving school was with jukebox operator Isaac Issa, who had machines across the island, and the young record enthusiast would collect the takings and replace outmoded records with the latest in-demand tunes.

Chin astutely bought these redundant records from Mr Issa for “a …

by Mike Atherton
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