His knowledge and passion for the music, and Jamaica itself, was intensified after his first trip to the island at the age of 19. By this time he had left school and was harbouring ideas of running his own business. The beginning of this becoming a reality was to start a market stall, Dub Vendor, in collaboration with Chris in Clapham Junction.
John, Redman, Papa Face and Noel Hawks outside Dub Vendor
The pair developed the business together growing contacts and a reputation for having the best selection of reggae music to be found in London. This culminated in the opening of a shop in Peckham which foundered after being broken into. At this point Chris left the company for more secure employment and John continued to build Dub Vendor, continuing with the market stall and developing the Mail Order side of the business while setting up another shop in Ladbroke Grove.
As Dub Vendor continued to expand John felt that having a label would add to the profile and, after licensing a couple of tracks from Jamaica, went on to renew his partnership with Chris to form Fashion Records. Both partners relished the satisfaction of turning music from an idea into finished product that could be sold over the Dub Vendor counters and to the reggae market at large.
Andrew Paul & John in the original A Class Studio
The production combination worked well with John having the feel of what the market wanted as well as the contacts for promotion and distribution whilst Chris possessed the musical and technical skills to shape the productions the way the pair wanted.
Hold the front page!
Fashion and Dub Vendor thrived together during the 80’s and 90’s and from being a fan of producers like Coxsone Dodd, Bunny Lee, Winston Riley, Niney and Gussie Clarke, John had established his business as an important outlet for their productions and an important player on the UK Reggae scene, working closely with all the movers and shakers from UK, USA and JA. This resulted in the Fashion label gaining recognition with hits and releases in the major reggae markets worldwide.
John & Papa San
Since Fashion became dormant in 2000, John has concentrated on developing Dub Vendor through the myriad changes in the music business until its present day position as the UK’s premier online reggae retailer. As part of the continuing evolution of the business, Chris and John are now ready to re-launch Fashion Records digitally and with selected physical reissues planned too, the future looks promising.
Check the ‘About Us’ section on the website, www.dubvendor.co.uk for the Dub Vendor history and more information and pictures.