The pied piper of reggae reveals some, but not all, about his wild ride through the Jamaican music business.
When reggae producer Doctor Dread was at the height of his powers as the head of Real Authentic Sound Records, he hired a 16-year-old kid to work for him. That youngster became publisher Johnny Temple of Akashic Books, who has lured the legendary producer out of semiretirement to share his memories of the reggae scene. His real name is Gary Himelfarb, but it’s obvious he’s much more comfortable in the guise of Doctor Dread, a name he invented while hosting a reggae radio show in his native Washington, D.C. The book shows how Dread grew from being a starry-eyed kid in love with the sound of Bob Marley, becoming one of the most respected creators in what is a truly tightknit scene. Dread explains how his decision to form the RAS record label in 1979 came at a tragic but important moment in music history, as the death of Bob Marley in 1981 opened the floodgates to a market that now desperately wanted the earthy sounds of reggae. Dread also crafts lovingly solemn portraits of music legends like Philip “Fatis” Burrell, the many Marleys, Freddie McGregor and Bunny Wailer, who contributes the preface. There are also a few unexpected guest stars like Sinead O’Connor (who fares poorly in Dread’s version) and Bob Dylan, to whom Dread dedicated the classic tribute album "Is It Rolling Bob?" Following open heart surgery and a halfhearted return to a day job, Dread’s glory days are largely behind him, but he’s still got quite a story to tell: “Although the record industry is just a skeleton of its former self, music will always be created and heard, and that connection between the artist and fan will always remain.”
A heartfelt tribute to Caribbean roots music and those who keep it alive.