Vernon Williams

1925 – 2004

Vernon ‘Fellows’ Williams, born in Trinidad and Tobago, emigrated to London in the 1960s where he spent a number of years travelling as a dancer, singer and musician. He travelled a lot in Turkey and across Europe – especially France and Germany. With and interest in languages he became multi linguistic, soaking up languages and ideas from other cultures. As a dancer and actor, he performed in a number of James Bond movies and also Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. He originally came to Britain to study dentistry in Leeds where he did his first year but decided to give it up because he was more interested in the Arts. While in London he met his cousin, Larry Ford, who founded the carnival band, Sukuya, in 1969. This band was later called Flamboyan. After helping his cousin for a number of years with his costume band in the 1970s, Larry encouraged Vernon to form the mas band of Genesis. In 1980 Vernon started Genesis together with a number of friends. They also taught youths the art of carnival in order to carry on the legacy, including his children, Symone Williams and Kevin Williams, who continue to lead the band today together with their mother, Alyson Williams.
Larry Ford, a pioneer and founding member of the Notting Hill Carnival, introduced his cousin, Vernon, to the beginnings of the colourful spectacle we today know as the Notting Hill Carnival – of which had numerous beginning stages. Claudia Jones did the adult indoor carnivals while Ronnie Laslett did the children’s carnival, both in collaboration with many other important figures. The street carnival that we know today is suggested to have begun in the Colherne pub in Earl’s Court where a lot of musicians who played on a Sunday jam one day decided to take their jam onto the streets. They played their musical instruments and paraded on the street from Earl’s Court to Acklam Road in Notting Hill. The years of 1964/65 have been contested as the beginning of what is now the Notting Hill Carnival, and Vernon ‘Fellows’ Williams was part of the group of people who contributed to the early beginnings of the Notting Hill Carnival.