Respect | Tony Chin

Irie Magazine Cali Reggae Edition - December 2015 - Respect - Tony Chin

Tony Chin

“Tony Chin is one of the great unsung heroes of Jamaica’s golden age of reggae in the 1970’s. As the rhythm guitarist for the Soul Syndicate, the prime studio band in Kingston during that electrifying decade, Tony helped anchor some of the biggest hits of the era.”


With a music career spanning over 40 years, Tony Chin is a true founding father of reggae music. Born in Kingston and raised in Trenchtown and Greenwich Farm, Tony’s career started off in the rocksteady era of the late 1960’s and progressed into reggae in the 1970’s as an original and founding member of the Soul Syndicate band. It is hard to imagine a chart topping hit that Tony didn’t record, or a singer that didn’t have Tony Chin on board for musical support both in the studio and on the stage. Such artists include Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Big Youth, Burning Spear, Johnny Clarke, Ken Boothe. Gregory Isaacs, The Mighty Diamonds, Jimmy Cliff, URoy, Freddie McGregor, Judy Mowatt, John Holt, Horace Andy and countless others. Tony was active as a session musician for producers Bunny Lee, Lee Scratch Perry, Niney the Observer, Joe Gibbs, JoJo for Channel One, Harry J, Randy’s, Phil Pratt, GG Records and Keith Hudson.

Tony Chin was prominent in creating the sound that defined roots reggae, and his legacy included the fact that it was he who developed the ‘flyers’ rhythm guitar style that became such a craze in reggae with classic songs such as Dennis Brown’s Cassandra and West Bound Train as well as Johnny Clarke’s Move Out Of Babylon featuring Tony’s flyers guitar sound. Though a devoted Soul Syndicate member, Tony Chin’s session playing found him included in the ranks of other notable Kingston ‘studio bands’ such as the Aggrovators, Randy’s All Stars, GG Allstars, the Observers, the Revolutionares, and Jack Ruby’s The Black Disciples among others. Rooted in Kingston 13, Soul Syndicate has created some of the legendary riddims of reggae music that still get recycled today. One of the most noted is ‘Stalag 17’, a riddim that was used for a version of Big Youth’s Jim Screechy, and later Tenor Saw did a version on it called Ring De Alarm.

Tony emigrated to the US in the early 80’s, eventually settling in Southern California where Tony remains today. After immigrating, Tony continued to tour and record with many artists including U Roy, Andrew Tosh, Michael Rose, The Mighty Diamonds, Big Youth, Mikey Dread, Joe Higgs and many others! In 1993, Tony joined the California based reggae band Big Mountain, giving the band the authentic reggae rhythm sound making this band strong for many years to come. While helping with some of the musical arrangements, most notably the billboard charts topper ‘Baby I Love Your Way’, writing and working on several Big Mountain albums including Unity Resistance and Free Up proved successful for Tony.

Tony toured the world with Big Mountain for several years including Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. Tony continues to tour and record with Fully as a member of the Fully Fullwood band, and Tony and Fully have taken to mentoring and producing young artists that they work with in Fully’s studio called Fully’s Kitchen in San Clemente, California. They also tour the world on the Tosh Meets Marley Tour where they pay tribute to both Peter Tosh and Bob Marley as well as perform many of Tony’s original songs such as Mr. Babylon and African from Tony’s debut solo album Music and Me which he released in 2001.

Tony has been writing songs for over 30 years, although only a handful of them were recorded and released prior to Tony releasing his solo albums starting in 2001. Beginning in the late 1990’s Tony started to take time out to work on his own music and has release 3 solo albums and several singles including his most recent single ‘What A Good Man Is’ and has much more music to give and will be releasing music as a solo artist as well as with Soul Syndicate Band in 2016!!