Ska, Mods and Stamford Hill

R&B Records



Bunny Lee: ‘The main t’ree people was when I come a Englan’ forty odd years ago, right, was who now . . .? Mrs King . . . and . . . husband name Benny. Benny use’ to come a Jamaica too, yunno, an’ put out – a get record. Him use’ to put out anyt’ing wha Ken Lack [Caltone imprint] make, Rita an’ Benny, y’understan’ . .…

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About Me:

I live in Stamford Hill, Hackney, and am doing the research for an exhibition at Hackney Museum, opening in October, on Stamford Hill Mods. The exhibition accompanies another one on Jamaica and Trinidad and Hackney. My main focus in on Marc Bolan in Stamford Hill, mod clubs, cafes, etc in the area, and, above all, on Rita and Benny King's shop, R and B Records, and their various record labels. Desperately looking for photos of the shop (we only have one), other local venues, memories, etc. So do get in touch if you can help or want to know ,more.

Top 5 tunes at the moment:

Dandy Livingstone: Message to You, Rudy The Wrigglers: The Cooler The Blue Flames: J.A. Blues Skatalites: Guns of Navarone Laurel Aitken: Hey Bartender

Vespa, Lambretta or other?



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  • Just seen the exhibition. Excellent, just one small point, I am sure R&B shop was in exisitance prior to 1959, see the following


    Re: 1974-1980 reviews on current reggae releases...

    Author : stepping razor

    Date : March 1, 2009 14:02

    BLACK MUSIC JULY 1974: Vol. 1 / Issue 8


    Ignored By The Mass Media, Often Beset By Hassles, The Music Scene Of London`s Black Community Is Nevertheless Alive And Grooving. A Six-Page Special Report
    By Carl Gayle: -

    JAMAICAN music was bound to gain a foothold in Britain once the first wave of immigrants had settled here. It all started back in 1953 at a shop in Stamford Hill, North London. The shop was opened by Mr Benny King and his wife Rita, in June 1953. By September, many Jamaicans were visiting the shop and asking for `blues` records.

    "We didn`t know what they meant," said Benny, "but we soon found out it was Jamaican music. Then one customer said we should get the records from Jamaica and he gave us Coxon`s (the Jamaican label owner / promoter / producer / sound system man) address in Jamaica. We wrote to him sending the money and finally we got the first shipment."

    About six months later Benny and Rita approached two English jazz labels--Esquire and Melodisc to see if they would import the records and release them in Britain. Esquire released the first such record, "Boogie In My Bones"/"Little Sheila" by Laurel Aitken on their Starlite label in 1954.

    It was Melodisc Records that really pioneered Jamaican music in England, notably through their Blue Beat label. In fact the name `blue beat` was passed on to all early Jamaican music in England, and `R&B`, `ska` and `rock steady` music became known as blue beat, even when they appeared on other labels.

    Melodisc Records received records from Sir Coxson, Duke Reid, and Prince Buster (three of the biggest promoters at the time in JA) and released some of the finest ska records, including Laurel Aitken`s "Bartender" and Eric Morris`s "Humpty Dumpty" (1961), Prince Buster`s "Independence Song" (1962) and "Have Mercy Mr Percy"/"She`s Gone To Napoli", two lively R&B sides by the team of Owen Gray and Laurel Aitken (1963). They released two of the Maytal`s finest songs on one record in `64--"He Is Real"/"Domino." In `66 there was Buster`s "Hard Man Fe Dead" and in `67 Buster`s "Judge Dread". And there were many more.

    In 1964 Rita and Benny Knig started their own label--R&B--for the release of Jamaican recordings. It was notable for some of the earliest records that appeared on it by Don Drummond and the Skatalites. But it was their Ska Beat label that played the more enterprising role with releases like Derrick Morgan`s "Don`t Call Me Daddy", Lord Tanamo`s "I`m In The Mood For Ska", Baba Brooks` "One Eyed Giant", The Wailers` "Love And Affection" and "Lonesome Feeling", and Dandy Livingstone`s British-made "Rudy A Message To You" the record that made a name for Dandy.

    Benny and Rita no longer release records themselves. They started concentrating on importing records from JA in 1969 in response to the demand for records that none of the British-based record companies were releasing. "We got hold of other names in JA through Coxson. We import about a thousand records a week now. We not only supply the sound systems, we supply other shops in Britain like Brian Harris`, Black Wax, and Don Christie, they`re the three biggest reggae import shops in Birmingham."


  • Great article, fantanstic memories.

    I used to subscribe to the US Billboard magazine, and when I finished with it I used to pass it on to Benny at R&B.  In return he used to give me a sight discount on any records I used to buy.  I used to run the record club at the North London Day College and it was my job to buy the records for it.  The big event was the Christmas dance when I was charged with buying the complete top 20, of course, from R&B.

    I always remember Friday nights at Rita's with the crowd of Jamaicans, mainly from the Stamford Hill bus depot just around the corner buying the latest imports.

    With respect to the Mods they definately preferred milling around the amusement arcade, I am sure in the earlier days (early 60's) they were called 'faces'.

    Just for the record, the bowling alley used to be the 'Super' cimema.

    Clubs visited in the early 60's included Cooks Ferry Inn at Edmonton, the club above the Manor House Pub, don't know if it has a name, 100 Club Oxford Street, Klooks Kleek ( what a name!) and of course the Tottenham Royal

  • thanks for the great comments Malcolm looking forward to reading more of your blogs mate many thanks

  • welcome to the mod generation Malcolm loved reading your blog

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