Michael George Campbell (4 June 1954 – 15 March 2008), better known as Mikey Dread, was a Jamaican singer, producer, and broadcaster. He was one of the most influential performers and innovators in reggae music.
Born in Port Antonio, one of five children, from an early age, Campbell showed a natural aptitude for engineering and electronics. As a teenager he performed with the Safari and Sound of Music sound systems, and worked on his high school's radio station.
He studied electrical engineering at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, and in 1976, started out as an engineer with the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). Campbell wasn't impressed that the JBC's playlists mainly consisted of bland, foreign pop music at a time when some of the most potent reggae was being recorded in Jamaica. He convinced his JBC bosses to give him his own radio program called Dread at the Controls, where he played almost exclusively reggae. Before long, Campbell (now using the DJ name Mikey Dread) had the most popular program on the JBC. Well known for its fun and adventurous sonic style, Dread at the Controls became a hit all over Jamaica. Examples of Mikey Dread's distinctive radio chatter can be heard on the US release of the RAS label LP African Anthem Dubwise.
He also began working as a recording artist, Lee "Scratch" Perry producing his signature tune "Dread at the Controls", also recording for Sonia Pottinger and Joe Gibbs, and performing with the Socialist Roots sound system. Inevitably, JBC's conservative management and Campbell clashed, and he quit in protest in 1978, becoming an engineer at the Treasure Isle studio, where he began an association with producer Carlton Patterson. They co-produced Dread's own work (e.g. "Barber Saloon") and that of others.
By the late 1970s he had started his own DATC label, working with artists such as Edi Fitzroy, Sugar Minott, and Earl Sixteen, as well as producing his own work. The label released Dread's albums Evolutionary Rockers (released in the UK as Dread at the Controls), and World War III.
Campbell's music attracted the attention of British punk rockers The Clash, who invited him over to England to tour with them in 1980, going on to produce some of their music. Although initially suspicious of the strangers, Campbell soon became the best of friends with the band, producing their famous "Bankrobber" single and performing on several songs on their 1980 album Sandinista!. Campbell also toured with The Clash across Britain, Europe, and the US, gaining many new fans along the way. He studied at the National Broadcasting School in London in 1980 and in 1984 studied advanced recording technology at the North London Polytechnic.
Some of his works in the United Kingdom include hosting series such as Rockers Roadshow and narrating the six-part Channel 4 reggae documentary series Deep Roots Music. He later recorded "The Source (Of Your Divorce)" for Warner Brothers Records US, which obtained regularly rotated video airplay.
In 1991, Dread recorded Profile and African Anthem Revisited. He also toured in Europe and the US with Freddie McGregor, Lloyd Parks, We The People Band, and the Roots Radics Band.
In 1992, he collaborated with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin on a duet entitled "Can't Hear 'Em". He was nominated for a NAIRD award, an award from the Billboard Magazine, for his work on his 1990 compilation album Mikey Dread's Best Sellers.
In 1993, Mikey Dread was involved in several projects, including his tour supporting the album Obsession and working in TV with the Caribbean Satellite Network (CSN) where he was Program Director and on Air personality as well as Producer of various shows.
In 1994 he presented The Culture Award of Honor in the Martin's International Reggae Music Awards in Chicago. In 1995, he worked as a Radio DJ for WAVS 1170 AM and WAXY-AM 790 in Miami, Florida. In 1996 he participated in the Essential Music Festival as a performer in Brighton, UK.
Mikey furthered his knowledge of TV/Video Production at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, where he graduated in 1996 with Honors and at Lynn University in Boca Raton / Florida where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Communications, with Magna Cum Laude honours.
After many years working as a producer and singer, Campbell withdrew from the business and moved to Miami where he furthered his college education with courses in electronics and business, and ran the Caribbean Satellite Network TV station in Miami. Campbell shrewdly waited until all of his existing contracts expired and then regained control over his entire catalogue; He began re-releasing much of it on his own Dread at the Controls record label.
Dread, together with The Blizzard of 78, featured on The Sandinista! Project, a tribute to the 1980 Clash album Sandinista!, with the song "Silicone on Sapphire". The tribute album, recorded in 2004, was released on 15 May 2007 by the 00:02:59 Records (a label named after a lyric from the Sandinista! song "Hitsville UK").
In October 2007, it was announced that Campbell was being treated for a brain tumour. He died on 15 March 2008, surrounded by his family, at the home of his sister in Stamford, Connecticut.
Released: 1989 Recorded: 1982–1989 Label: Heartbeat Records (HB 11568) Format: CD Producer: Mikey Dread Note: S.W.A.L.K. (1982) is combined with a compilation of Dread productions on Heartbeat Records.
Released: 20 May 1991 Recorded: 1979–1989 Label: Rykodisc (RCD 20178 and RACS 0178-2) Format: CD and cassette Producer: Mikey Dread Track listing All tracks written by Mikey Dread
"Quest for Oneness" – 3:03
"Break Down the Walls" – 4:43
"Goodbye" – 3:59
"Industrial Spy" – 4:24
"Wake-Up Call" – 3:38
"Warrior Stylee" – 4:30
"S.W.A.L.K." – 5:17
"Barber Saloon-Haircut" – 4:05
"Choose Me" – 4:40
"Jah Jah Love (In the Morning)" – 7:39
"Sunday School" – 3:41
"Positive Reality" – 3:22
"Enjoy Yourself" – 3:25
"Roots and Culture" – 6:10
"Knock Knock" – 4:42
"My Religion" (live with Roots Radics) – 3:45
2003 reissue bonus tracks
"The Source" (live with Roots Radics)
2003 Dread at the Controls (DATC CD 2003) (CD, alternative cover, bonus tracks, deluxe edition)
The Prime of Mikey Dread: Massive Dub Cuts from 1978–1992
1 2 Gilbert, Pat (2005) . "8–13, Epilogue, Discography, Bibliography". Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. pp.321, 332, 362, 367, 373–388. ISBN1-84513-113-4. OCLC61177239.
↑ Clash, The; Joe Grushecky; Katrina Leskanich; Willie Nile; Ship & Pilot.; Soul Food (Musical group); Sunset Heroes (21 September 2004). The Sandinista! Project A Tribute to the Clash (Compact Disc). England: 00:02:59 Records. OCLC178980813.