Mikey Dread remains ‘hopeful’- Jamaican newspaper comments

Some time last year the Observer carried a story with the headline appealing for prayers for pioneer reggae stalwart Alton Ellis, who is now recovering from his illness. Around the same time, we also carried another article with the headline Not at the control: Mikey Dread has brain tumour.

Against that background, it would be fitting for us, admirers of Michael ‘Mikey Dread‘ Campbell, like we did for Alton Ellis, to extend some positive thoughts and give him such energies of love that he so richly deserves, so that in short order his recovery, too, may be celebrated.

Mikey Dread, on whom we carried a press release from his Miami-based company, Dread at the Controls in the Sunday Observer (October 28, 2007), as having been diagnosed with brain tumour, is still, according to well-informed sources, upbeat and hopeful about returning to do what he does best.

As you can imagine, he is still fighting as hard as he can, he’s not giving up life easily. He still says he will leave the earth when he’s ready…So he still feisty and happy to be surrounded by his loving family,” a source close to his company told the Observer.

One of the most influential performers and innovators in reggae music, who is blessed with technical abilities and unique vocal delivery, Mikey Dread in the 1970s became a phenomenon in the studios of the now-defunct JBC Radio.

According to his bio, it was from an early age that Campbell showed a natural aptitude for engineering and electronics. After college, Campbell started working as an engineer with the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). He 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 songs were being recorded in Jamaica. He convinced his JBC bosses to give him his own radio programme called Dread At The Controls, where he played nothing but reggae. Before long, Campbell (now using the DJ name Mikey Dread) had the most popular programme on the JBC. Well-known for its fun and adventurous sonic style, Dread At The Controls became a hit all over Jamaica. Inevitably, JBC’s conservative management and Campbell clashed, and he quit in protest.

By that time, Campbell had earned a solid reputation as a singer and producer and began recording his own material. Distinctive albums such as Dread At The Controls, Evolutionary Rockers, and World War III all became favourites amongst reggae fans. His collaboration with producers King Tubby and Carlton Patterson stand out as some of the best work each party has done.

Campbell’s music attracted the attention of British punk rockers The Clash, who invited him over to England 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.

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. Disgusted with several unfair contracts with record companies, Campbell shrewdly waited until all of the existing contracts expired and then regained control over his entire catalogue. Since then, he has been re-releasing much of it on his own Dread At The Controls record label.

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