Mikey Dread

Seminal radio DJ, artist, producer, and TV host Mikey Dread may be best-known in the U.S. for his work with old school punk heroes the Clash, but in his Jamaican and adopted British home, his legacy is seen as much more than that. Born in 1954, in Port Antonio, Jamaica, Michael Campbell came to national prominence in the '70s with a weekly radio show on JBC (Jamaican Broadcasting Company). Taking the name Mikey Dread, the DJ's four-hour spot, which he called Dread at the Controls, was a revelation. Jamaican radio had not revolved around local talent, but rather imported music mostly from the United States. Even as the Jamaican recording industry had flourished across the '60s, this aversion to local music had not diminished. Some of the labels had overcome this handicap through a pay-to-play system that wasn't exactly payola, but a system of advertising. Thus Studio One, Treasure Isle, and the island's other larger labels would buy blocks of advertising time, during which they would play their new releases. This led to advertising coming solely from those labels with adequate cash and with only two radio stations servicing the island, there were few alternatives to reaching national audiences. Dread's radio show changed that. He not only featured Jamaican music, but played the hottest new songs within days (and even hours) of their pressing. The DJ also knew his musical history, and one of his favorite tactics was to spin the original classic songs whose rhythms were currently mashing up the dancehalls.

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