Michael Campbell, better known as Mickey Dread was a Jamaican multi-talented singer, producer and broadcaster. From an early age, Campbell showed a natural aptitude for engineering and electronics. After he finished college, Campbell started out as a engineer with the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). Campbell wasn’t impressed that the JBC’s play lists mainly consisted of bland, foreign pop music at a time when some of the most potent reggae was being recorded in Jamaica.
Campbell 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 had the most popular radio programme on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) radio station. Well-known for its adventurous sonic style, ‘Dread At The Controls’ become a hit all over Jamaica. Inevitably, JBC’s conservative management and Campbell clashed, and he quit in protest.
By that time, Mickey Dread had earned a solid reputation as a singer and producer he 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 collaborations with producers King Tubby and Carlton Patterson stand out as some of the best work each party has done. Mickey Dread’s music attracted the attention of British punk rockers ‘The Clash’, who invited him over to England to produce some of their music. Although suspicious of strangers, Mickey Dread soon became the best of friends with the band, producing their famous “Bankrobber” single and performing on several songs on their 1980 album ‘Sandini’. 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, Mickey Dread 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, Mickey Dread 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.
In October 2007, it was announced that Mickey Dread was being treated for a brain tumour. Mickey Dread passed away on March 15, 2008, at approximately at his sister’s house in Connecticut. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his passing. Mickey Dread was just 54 years old. Mickey’s family including his wife Monika and their 4 months son Zylen Jahlight; two sons from Jamaica Kevin and Michael Jr; three daughters Dionne who lives in England, Nicole Houston Texas and the other in Belize as well as Damian who lives in Canada.
Michael Dread was an influential performer and innovator in reggae music. His abilities, technical expertise, and unique vocal delivery combine to create a unique sound that tells the listener emphatically that he is the ‘Dread At The Controls’. We at Reggae Times sends our deepest condolence to the family and friends of Mickey Dread. His passing is a great loss to the music industry and the world itself. He will be sadly missed by all, Mikey may your soul rest in peace.