Monday marks the 2nd anniversary of Mikey Dread’s passing.
Mikey was a Rastaman full of life and love, his heart was as big as the earth is round, his musical expertise was immeasurable. Mikey’s Contribution to Jamaican Reggae and Radio absolutely cannot be touched. He was not just a Singer, Song writer, Producer.
Mikey Dread was the first “True Authentic Reggae DJ on the Radio” he revolutionized this music on the Radio with the late night show at JBC “The Dread at the Controls”. Mikey did not just sit and play the music; he connected with the listeners. And thanks to short wave radios!!. This brought hoards of Reggae Lovers to the soil of Jamaica.
Kingston Singer Sidney “Mankind” Francis once said “When Mikey Dread – Dread at the Controls show took to the air all other stations in Jamaica had to just park”. It was without a doubt the most popular show on the radio during it’s time. Jamaican Writer Byron Henry once said to me “he was strictly a soul man, until Mikey Dread took the air that is when he became a lover of reggae”. DJ’s far away as Africa and Italy and yes even Russia, even today continue to hail up the Godfather of Reggae Mikey Dread, without his influence and dedication to the authentic of Reggae it would have fallen by the waste a long time ago.
Mikey was definitely a visionary, being a complicated dread and the most misunderstood Rasta in the business. He looked for alternative ways to fulfill his dreams with the media. He recruited and continued to develop our talents until he could no longer. Myself (Queen Mushiya) to handle radio and write and Carmelita to handle television. As the popular TV show in the U.S.; Charlie had his angels. Mikey had his: Me (Queen Mushiya), Carmelita and wife Monika.
Now, I was a little more of a challenge to him, being very shy at the time (smile). He pushed and pulled and let us not forget the yelling (smile).
He pushed me to my full potentials, until I was as comfortable on air as I am in my own skin. He was a perfectionist so his standards were really high. It helped that he kept throwing Artists my way to interview, such as: Andrew Tosh, Luciano, Freddie Macgregor, Tinga Stewart, Glen Washington (who has become one of my best friends), and Ed Robinson and on and on. He would listen to the show interviews and critique it and the music or listen to the tape show and critique it. As the years went on, the shows just became better and better. We owe it all to Mikey’s direction.
Mikey was such a powerhouse and influence in my life, people totally forget that I was just on loan to him from the Inner visions reggae Band. LOL Mikey just took over. No one ever complained because of his musical genius, we all learned so much from him. The education received from him I could have never received at a University.
He did the same to Carmelita (Carmelita Harris – Irie Vision – Worldbeat TV – San Francisco, California).
Back on February 21, 2007 – Mikey was invited by ‘The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame” to speak and perform. The rock and Roll band Mikey produced “The Clash” was being inducted. Mikey was overwhelmed with joy to have been asked this honor. We later learned that Mikey was the First Reggae Artist to be asked to Speak with the audience on the history of Reggae and perform, what an HONOR.
Mikey contributions to Reggae have been duly noted in reggae circles internationally. I personally will never rest at the thought of him never receiving or considered for “Jamaica’s Order of Merit”.
I’ve noticed over the years when ones pass it looks like they were automatically given this honor for their accomplishments. However, I’ve waited and waited and yet I am yet to see Mikey’s accomplishment acknowledged in Jamaica.
Of course I am not privy to what the requirements are. I would think his accomplishments in the music industry with eyes on Jamaica, should have at least been acknowledged with at least an honor of merit.
Mikey Dread’s career spanned over 30 years, being documented by BBC London, under the History of Jamaican Music documentary. As well as other International media;
most recently included in Roger Steffens book titled: Jamaican scrapbook. In this book under the title (REV105 Revolution Radio) Spreading the best by Peter Simon it goes on to say: “During the winter of 1976, when Stephen and I were touring Jamaica for our first collaboration, Reggae Bloodlines, the government-owned newspapers, magazines and local radio stations shunned the music, considering it socially and culturally disruptive. What you heard on the airwaves was R & B and bland American soft-rock programming. Only late night did an all reggae show, The Dread at the Control, created and hosted by Mikey Dread, finally surface. It caught on like wildfire, transistor radios blaring through the tropical nights with that irresistible riddim. When the Jamaican government realized there was money to be made – and not only in Jamaica – the floodgates opened. Bob Marley’s message and music began to spread worldwide, and the media began filling in the gaps. FM radio slowly began adding cuts to their airwaves, prompted by Eric Clapton’s hit cover of Marley’s “I shot the Sheriff”.
What grieved Mikey’s heart to his death was the fact that the Country he so loved (Jamaica), never really recognized his contributions as the rest of the world did.
With that said, myself and Carmelita will never give up the fight for the honor that Mikey deserves, the musical legacy that he has left. His permanent mark on; not only Jamaican reggae but other genres as well.
We are and will always be dedicated to our Brother, our Boss, Teacher and friend.
The Dread is at the Controls through life everlasting!!!!!