Wednesday, March 19, 2008

R.I.P Mikey Dread

I first heard of Mikey Dread courtesy his influence on and productions with the legendary U.K band The Clash. In fact in those days, there wasn't an "internet" for me to look him up on... just cryptic mentions on Clash ephemera and a picture hanging in my junior high locker of a stern looking Clash band member wearing a t-shirt that said "Dread At The Controls".

I just knew this mysterious and colorful figure must be cool!

His 12" dub records were somewhat obscure for a suburban kid in upstate NY like myself to obtain. But now via the web, much of his back catalog is available via iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, Amazon or whatever yer preferred legit download site is...

Here are many samples and links to download as well:

Turns out the dub toasting reggae DJ & longtime performer died last weekend at age 54 of a brain tumor in a Connecticut hospital with his wife and family by his side.

R.I.P Mikey Dread ( aka Michael Campbell )

Mikey got his first taste of notoriety as a broadcaster via the Jamaican Broadcasting Company in 1976. By 1977-78 he'd won Radio Personality Of The Year, and had the number one rated show on the island. It was this show where the words "Dread At The Controls" first hit the lexicon, and became a mantra for chilled out dub beats after midnight...

After his show took off, he began feuding with conservative station management and he gave up the radio show, but eventually worked with artists like Sugar Minott & Edi Fitzroy. He was soon brought to England at request of The Clash, where he produced their hit "Bankrobber" single. The track found it's way to ears stateside finally as part of the 1980 Black Market Clash release. Mikey also contributed to several songs on the Clash's triple LP Sandinista! for which he was bitter that he was never properly compensated. Mikey vocals can be heard on Sandinista cuts "Living in Fame," "One More Time" and "If Music Could Talk".

The Clash with Mikey Dread - Living In Fame

Long before being snubbed by the band's management & label, Michael himself can be heard surmising mortality on Sandinista! with the rap:

"When you living inna fame
You got to live up to your name
Or else you suffer and you die inna shame
It's all in the game, eh!

This is the game of life
We no wa' no strife
Game of life
We no wa' no strife, no no

Don't, no no no no

followed by Strummer's assertion of

"F*ckin' hell Mickey"

Here's Mikey in his own inimitable style proudly telling the tale of his work with The Clash

Mikey Dread - The Clash & Mikey Dread Story

Mikey also toured as a pre-show DJ & onstage toaster with The Clash in Europe, England and the US. Eventually after the Clash disbanded, he found a similar role with UB40 in the early 80's. He released many tunes through various labels, experimeting with hip hop crossover material, and even recorded with guitarist Izzy Stradlin formerly of Guns & Roses.

After many ups & downs, and eventually becoming disenchanted with the financial improprieties of the music biz, Mikey moved to Miami to attend college and pursued courses in electronics & business while hosting a local radio show. Eventually as his old music contracts dissolved, he regained control of his older recordings and began reissuing albums, and started a comeback. In reent years he was touring clubs & festivals throughout the US & UK, and even into unchartered territories like Poland...

During his career, he was a renowned broadcaster, brought dub music to the cultural fore in not only Jamaica but internationally, courageously fused it with punk, spread a global message of racial unity, and played a seminal role as a forefather of the now popular & very commercial dancehall & even reggaeton styles.

Mikey, who never was a particularly wealthy artist had taken great effort in getting his back catalog officially available in the digital realm recently and I'm sure his family would appreciate your support in this obviously trying time.

Mikey and his wife Monika at a show on Martha's Vineyard

The Cheaters, Cheapskates & Ne'er Do'ells can likely search the torrents, rapidshares & limewires or whatever you kids are up too for yer illicit audio whatnot...

But as an introduction, here's some tracks Mikey himself had officially sanctioned for free promotional distribution through his indie label Dread at the Controls and website

One of Mikey's first reissues was 2004's African Anthem Deluxe, which updated the old hit LP with six unreleased bonus tracks of dubs, sound effects and hardcore drum and bass. The album features exclusive King Tubby Dub mixes mixed at 'King Tubby’s Waterhouse Studio'.

Mikey Dread "Saturday Night Style"

from "African Anthem Deluxe: The Mikey Dread Show Dubwise"

African Anthem Deluxe: The Mikey Dread Show DubwiseMikey Dread
(Dread at the Controls)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Buy at Amazon
More On This Album

This collection is as good as any place to start, collecting several top tracks of his career beginning in 1979...

The Prime of Mikey DreadMikey Dread
"Industrial Spy" (mp3)
from "The Prime of Mikey Dread"
(Dread at the Controls)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Amazon
More On This Album

Here's some tracks from the compilation album Mikey Dread Best Sellers...
Best Sellers

Mikey Dread - Break Down The Walls

Mikey Dread - Roots And Culture (mp3)


John E. said...

I first discovered the unique vocal stylings of Mikey Dread via my favorite band at the time, The Clash..."Bankrobber" and "Crooked Beat" are two favorites which were wonderfully enhanced by MD's cool cool stylings...then, I heard much more on the local college radio station's weekend reggae show...I was very saddened to hear of Mikey's passing, but I know he's lighting up a sweet spliff in heaven right now...I will light one myself and go listen to some cool Dread soundz

Anonymous said...

I had the honor to see Mikey Dread live at a small reggae bar in St. Louis about 4 years ago. He was so down to earth, took my request (roots and culture)and bumped fists with him after the show. RIP Mikey!