Althea & Donna meet Mikey Dread at JBC Studio (A Cookie Epilogue)

MIkey Dread spinning vinyl in the booth at JBC Studios in the 1970s (photo: Pinterest)

This generation…rules the nation…with version…

Epilogue to the Durban Poison cookie story

One day Althea & Donna dropped in on their good friend and mentor, Mikey Dread, and brought him a half-dozen of Lord Sassafrass’s certifiably scrumptious chewy molasses Durban Poison cookies. They surveyed Mikey spinning discs, flipping switches, and dialing knobs in the dee jay booth at JBC studios, Kingston’s capital radio home of the eponymously named, “Dread at the Controls“. MIkey Dread (aka Michael Campbell) was the reggae heart and soul of Jamaican Broadcasting Company’s regular transmissions, and deserved big respect and love (RIP). He greeted the generous pair and thanked them for the kind treats, then recounted to them, as if reading from a book, his meteoric rise to the top of the Trench Town radio ranks:

Even though he wasn’t permitted to talk on the air, Mikey’s “Dread at the Controls” radio show was immensely popular and made him a household name. The program was a non-stop mélange of music and sound effects. Mikey would add echo and wild, animated sounds to the records he played. But he didn’t add effects randomly. He used them to accent the records. Mikey knew when the singer was going to stop and take a break – that’s when he would add the gong or rewinding tape or cartoonish boing. His audio enhancements were so popular among listeners that people would go into Randy’s (VP Records) or other vendors asking for the records with all those effects on them. It was the most imaginatively produced radio show Jamaicans had ever heard, yet listeners rarely heard Mikey’s voice. He cleverly worked around his boss’ directive that he never open the mic himself or make live announcements. In fact, in retrospect, the order probably worked in Mikey’s favor. Rather than coming on himself to do a standard ID, Mikey recorded a variety of jingles by superstars such as Big Youth saying things like “who is the man that play roots rock reggae? Michael Campbell…. to thrill your soul.”

Mikey was the first dee jay to break the hot-hot reggae-pop debutantes, Althea & Donna, and they loved him for it. He was a big reason for their success. They recalled how it all went down, also as if reading from a book:

The producer Joe Gibbs came across a song by Reggae star Trinity called “Three Piece Suit” and he decided to record a female response as a companion. His engineer Errol Thompson came up with the backing track and the Jamaican female duo 17-year-old Althia Forest and 18 year-old Donna Reid supplied various local slang words for the lyrics. Mikey Dread featured the record on his program Dread At The Controls, and it was a hit in Jamaica. John Peel started to promote it on his BBC Radio 1 evening show and then the daytime Radio 1 DJs started to play it.

By the time they were done reminding each other of their paths to success, the trio had devoured their ital snacks and were now overwhelmed with the love and positive vibrations enwrapping them. The Durban Poison put them in a happy, energized mood, and as Mikey’s last track was about to fade, and without a segue cued up, the dee jay flipped a few switches and turned a few dials, bringing up the backing track to the duo’s smash hit, “Uptown Top Ranking”. As if on cue, Althea & Donna burst out with a dubble vocal homage to Mikey & JBC studios, freestyling their fierce love for their good friend and the studio that broke them and made them famous. They were feeling much nostalgic love, and when Mikey asked them what they wanted to call the take, they told him it could only be called one thing: “JBC Days”.

“JBC Days”, Althea & Donna’s homage to their mentor, Mikey Dread (RIP) & JBC Studios

Primitive Zippo
Doing high dives into the California cannabis industry, cannabis culture, cannabis-friendly music and anything else cannabis-related residing in the vast expanse of my turgid cranium.

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