Duke Reid  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Arthur "Duke" Reid (c. 19151975) was a Jamaican record producer, DJ and label owner.

He ran one of the most popular sound systems of the 1950s called Duke Reid's the Trojan after the British-made trucks used to transport the equipment. In the 1960s, Reid founded record label Treasure Isle, named after his liquor store, that produced legendary ska and rocksteady music. He was still active in the early 1970s, working with legendary toaster U-Roy. He died in early 1975 after having suffered from a severe illness for the last year.


After serving 10 years as a Jamaican Police Officer, Reid left the force to help his wife Lucille run the family business, The Treasure Isle Grocery and Liquor Store.

He made his way into the music business first as a sound system (outdoor mobile discotheque) owner, promoter and disc jockey. Soon he was also sponsor and presenter of a radio show, Treasure Isle Time. A jazz and blues man at heart, Duke chose 'My Mother's Eyes' by Tab Smith as his theme tune. Other favourites of his included Fats Domino, a noticeable influence on the early Duke Reid sound.

Early Reid productions were recorded in studios owned by others, but when the family business moved from Pink Lane, Kingston to Bond Street, Reid set up his own studio above the store. He became proprietor of a number of labels, chiefly Treasure Isle and Dutchess (his spelling). Much of his income derived from licensing agreements with companies in the UK, some of which set up specialist Duke Reid labels.

He dominated the Jamaican music scene of the `60s, specialising in ska and rock-steady, though his love of American jazz, blues and soul was always in evidence. By the `70s, the Rastafarian influenced roots & culture reggae was becoming more prevalent, and Reid was noticeably less sure-footed (famously he turned down the chance to record The Wailers). Reid maintained his position largely by recording the `toasting` of DJs U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone as well as vaguely Rasta-influenced oddities such as Cynthia Richard's `Aily-I`.

At around this time, Reid protege Justin Hinds noticed his boss appeared unwell and recommended a doctor. Cancer was diagnosed and Reid decided to sell the Treasure Isle label to Sonia Pottinger, widow of his friend Lenford `Lennie the King` Pottinger, and already a record company owner in her own right. He kept busy for a while acting as a Magistrate but died in 1975.

Partial discography

  • Various Artists - Soul To Soul DJ's Choice - 1973 - Trojan Records (1995)
  • Various Artists - Gems From Treasure Isle - 1966-1968 - Trojan Records (1982)
  • Various Artists - Ba Ba Boom Duke Reid - 1967-1972 - Trojan Records (1994)
  • Various Artists - Duke Reid's Treasure Chest - Heartbeat Records (1992)
  • Various Artists - Treasure Isle Dub Vol 01
  • Various Artists - Version Affair Vol 01 - Lagoon (1992)
  • Various Artists - Version Affair Vol 02 - Lagoon (1993)
  • Various Artists - Sir Coxsone & Duke Reid In Concert At Forresters Hall - Studio One

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Duke Reid" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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