Duke Vin

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Duke Vin
Vincent George Forbes

(1928-10-25)25 October 1928
Died3 November 2012(2012-11-03) (aged 84)
London, England, United Kingdom
OccupationSound system operator
Years active1955–2009
Known forOperating the first Jamaican-style sound system in the UK

Vincent George Forbes (25 October 1928 – 3 November 2012), better known as Duke Vin, was a Jamaican-born sound system operator and selector who operated the first sound system in the United Kingdom.


Born in Kingston, Forbes was raised on Wildman Street and attended the Calabar All-Age School.[1]

He began his career as a selector on the Tom the Great Sebastian sound system in the early 1950s, being given a chance after helping Tom Wong to change a tyre on his car.[2][3][4] At the time he was known as 'Shine-Shoes Vinny' due to his smart appearance.[1][5]

After travelling to England in 1954 as a stowaway on a boat from Kingston, he found work as an engine cleaner for British Rail, becoming an electrician two years later.[1][4][6] George built his first sound system in 1955 using a second-hand turntable bought from a shop in Edgware Road, a speaker bought for £15 and an amplifier built for £4, soon establishing 'Duke Vin the Tickler's', in Ladbroke Grove, London, the first Jamaican-style sound system in the UK.[4][7] The sound system played an important part in popularising ska in Britain.[2][3][8] He initially played R&B but soon concentrated on Jamaican music - he was supplied with fresh Jamaican releases, including many from Studio One, by the Daddy Peckings shop in West London.[8][9][10] Fellow Jamaican Count Suckle soon set up a sound system in the same area, leading to a rivalry between the two and several sound clashes, with Vin involved in the UK's first clash in 1958.[1][4][11]

In the 1960s his sound played at top London clubs including The Marquee and The Flamingo.[2][4]

In the late 1960s he served time in prison after being convicted of pimping, a charge that he denied.[4] On his release he built a larger sound system and bought a house off Harrow Road.[4] One of the tracks that exclusively featured on his sound system was "The Tickler", a track produced by Derrick Harriott that was unavailable elsewhere until it was released in 2006.[1]

In 1973 he was one of the founders of the Notting Hill Carnival, and performed at the event for 37 years, despite suffering a stroke in his later years.[2]

He was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Duke Vin and the Birth of Ska, directed by Gus Berger.[6]

He died in London on 3 November 2012.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Duke Vin", Daily Telegraph, 23 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012
  2. ^ a b c d e "Unsung: Duke Vin: sound system pioneer", Jamaica Observer, 16 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012
  3. ^ a b Katz, David (2006) People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee "Scratch" Perry, Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-1846094439, p. 16
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Salewicz, Chris (2012) "Duke Vin: 'Soundman' who brought sound systems to Britain", The Independent, 21 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012
  5. ^ Hutton, Clinton (2007) "Forging Identity And Community Through Aestheticism and Entertainment: The Sound System and The Rise Of The DJ", Caribbean Quarterly, 1 December 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2012  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b Burrell, Ian (2009) "The Duke of Notting Hill", The Independent, 4 September 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2012  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  7. ^ Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter (2004) The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd edn., Rough Guides, ISBN 978-1843533290, p. 384
  8. ^ a b Hebdige, Dick (1987) Cut 'N' Mix, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415058759, p. 77
  9. ^ Beckford, Robert (2006) Jesus Dub: Theology, Music and Social Change, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415310185, p. 41
  10. ^ Broughton, Simon et al (eds.) (2000) World Music: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides, ISBN 978-1858286365, p. 457
  11. ^ Bradley, Lloyd (2001) Bass Culture: When Reggae was King, Penguin, ISBN 978-0140237634, p. 115

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