Entertainment

Mike Dread at the Controls

UNSUNG

Howard Campbell

Friday, August 10, 2012    

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In commemoration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer's Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country's culture. This week we feature Mikey Dread.

THE Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) produced its share of firebrands during the 1970s. One of them was Michael 'Mikey Dread' Campbell.

He is best known for his Dread At The Controls radio programme which aired for two years on the JBC where the Portland-born Campbell began working as a transmitter engineer in 1976.

The show played the cutting-edge sounds of producers Osbourne 'King Tubby' Ruddock and Augustus Pablo and dancehall singers like Linval Thompson.

In a 2003 interview with the Jamaica Observer, Campbell cited Dread At The Controls among his biggest achievements.

"Before that show come along, people at the JBC wanted to play classical music which had no relevance to Jamaican people," he said.

Campbell was part of a formidable disc jockey unit at the JBC. His colleagues included Errol 'ET' Thompson and the emerging Barry 'Barry G' Gordon.

In 1977, he launched Dread At The Controls which started at midnight on Sundays and ran for four-and-a-half hours. The show stayed away from mainstream music and gave recordings of underground producers an artistes a chance to be heard.

After two years on the air, Campbell left the JBC and went into music production. He produced singer Rod Taylor's His Imperial Majesty; Miss Molly and The Gun by Edi Fitzroy and worked with influential British punk band The Clash.

As 'Mikey Dread', he recorded hit songs such as Barber Saloon and African Map.

The maverick broadcaster/producer/artiste died in Connecticut in March, 2008 at age 53, six months after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

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