DUB VENDOR TEAM 2016
Since 1976 Dub Vendor Records has had a peerless reputation as the place for reggae fans to obtain their favourite sounds. If Dub Vendor didn’t stock it, nobody did – and the throng of soundmen and discerning ravers that lined the counters at weekends testified to the strength of the selection that this London reggae institution delivered non-stop for three-and-a-half frenetic decades.
The business’s roots date back to Clapham Junction market, when reggae fans John MacGillivray and his school friend Chris Lane opened a record stall at a time when the music was reaching a new, broader audience. Sure enough, hippies and punks stood shoulder to shoulder with London’s black youths at the stall in a search for hard-to-find pre-releases of the rebel music. A year later, in 1977, John and Chris set up the first Dub Vendor shop in Peckham, although this proved short lived, and Chris left the retail business soon after.
The usual suspects, circa 1982 PICTURE Original Record Shack photo: Chris Lane
In 1979 John expanded the company’s reach, launching Dub Vendor Mail Order to cater for the growing worldwide reggae fan base, quickly recruiting another knowledgeable fan, Noel Hawks, to manage that side of the operation. As the business flourished, John opened another shop in Ladbroke Grove, the Dub Vendor Record Shack, managed by Redman, for years a respected operator on the reggae scene. The shop was very successful and eventually moved from its’ original location at Ladbroke Grove underground station to larger premises on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Cambridge Gardens where the iconic mural, pictured, was painted on the side of the shop in 2001. The Record Shack closed in 2008 when the lease expired. But leaving its place in reggae history assured. Special credit goes to Martin "Redman" Trenchfield and the supporting team including David Trenchfield, Robert "Roberto" Allen R.I.P. and Don "Papa" Facey. Despite a local petition the mural was removed about a year after closing.
Ladbroke Grove Second Shack
Reggae shops invariably end up releasing tunes and a couple of Gussie Clarke produced releases on the Dub Vendor label surfaced before John and former Dub Vendor, Chris Lane, started Fashion records in 1980. The move proved highly fruitful. Fashion’s debut release, Let’s Dub It Up by Dee Sharp backed by local talent The Investigators, went straight to No 1 in the reggae charts. It was to be the first of many such successes.
In 1982, John opened the flagship Dub Vendor Record Store in Clapham Junction with Papa Face and Phillip ‘Godfather’ Wilks controlling the counter, its familiar Lion logo proving a lasting landmark in the Junction for years after. In the early years the A-Class studio was in the basement of the shop and a successful dub cutting business owned by Chris Lane ran alongside the 4 and then 8 track recording facility before the operation moved to Forest Hill. The larger premises at Clapham Junction enabled the shop and mail order to finally operate under one roof and the business continued to flourish. The eighties and nineties were the golden years for reggae sales in the UK and both stores and the mail order thrived. Shipments of fresh stock were coming in weekly from Jamaica and almost as frequently from the US and the customers couldn’t get enough of the hot tunes. The stores adapted to the changing market in the new millennium, we stocked more R&B and Hip Hop as the younger generation wanted other genres to go with their dancehall. We also catered for the resurgence in popularity of roots and dub, bringing respected UK roots pioneer Lol "Disciple" Bell-Brown in to the fold. Under his stewardship the mail order operation moved into the digital age with the launch of www.dubvendor.co.uk The growth of the online business meant that in 2011 the decision was made to close the store at Clapham Junction and concentrate solely online. Contrary to anything you may have read the closure was not forced by the riots in Clapham Junction, it had been planned to coincide with our 35th Anniversary which was held in September 2011>
A special thank you to all the staff who made the Record Store and Mail Order so successful and so much fun, key crew members Face, Phillip, Robert Allen R.I.P. plus later recruits Gaffa Blue, Eddie Oxman and Chad "Supa C" Walters not forgetting Mail Order stalwarts Noel "Teacher" Hawks, Cynthia "Ms Roots" Morgan R.I.P., Hortense "Mrs" MacGillivray and Patricia "Sister Pat"Walker.