Jamaica: Byron Smith, [late 1960s]. 21 3⁄4 x 12 x 16 in. Very good; item has not been tested for audio. Item #6077
The kit tube amplifier built and modified by Byron Smith, the engineer who invented “versions,” giving rise to dub music. “Versions” are the beginning of remix culture, and thus an early predecessor to hip-hop, making this item a material artifact from the beginning of MCing.
The amplifier was built by Smith for the Sono Tone Sound System in the late 1960s in Kingston, Jamaica, around the same time that “versions” were born. Sono Tone brought the amp to London in 1971, before relocating to the Bronx in 1974 where they ran their sound until about 1979.
Byron Smith is the engineer credited with starting instrumental “versions” as B-sides of 45 RPM records. A long-time engineer and producer at Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle, Smith also ran his own record label, Baron’s, from 1969-1972. Duke Reid (1915-1975) helped popularize and distribute ska, rocksteady, and reggae at a time when jazz remained the most commonly played live music on the island. From police officer to liquor store operator, then owner of the most popular sound system in Jamaica, radio host, and proprietor of several record labels, Reid - with Smith - helped define the direction of Jamaican music in the 20th Century.
A unique piece of music ephemera from the birth of modern Jamaican dub.