This iconic Dread at the Controls t-shirt was given to Joe Strummer of the Clash by Jamaican singer and producer Mikey Dread. Regarded as one of Reggae’s most influential and innovative performers, Dread collaborated with the punk rockers on several albums, including Sandinista and Black Market Clash.
Dread at the Controls was Mikey Dread’s second album, released in 1979. One year after this release, the Clash invited him to come to the UK and tour with them. Initially Dread was suspicious of the punks, but he soon found that they had a lot in common. They became best friends and collaborated on many occasions. Dread’s music was well received during his tour of Europe and the US with the Clash. He picked up many new fans and introduced reggae to wider audience. He returned to the UK and continued to record with the Clash and produce his own music whilst broadening his skills with a stint at North London Polytechnic to study advanced recording technology in 1984.
This ethos of empowerment and social justice were perhaps the things that initially united the Clash and Mikey Dread, as biographer Sean Egan explains in his 2014 book, The Clash: The Only Band That Mattered:
“They were a group whose music was, and is, special to their audience because that music insisted on addressing the conditions of poverty, petty injustice, and mundane life experienced by the people who bought their records. Moreover, although their rebel stances were often no more than posturing, from the Clash's stubborn principles came a fundamental change in the perception of what is possible in the music industry, from subject matter to authenticity to quality control to price ceilings.”
If you’re not familiar with Dread’s work, check out this classic collaboration on the Clash’s Bank Robber from 1980, with a tasty bit of dub on the end:
And if you’re after a Dread at the Controls shirt, you can find them right now in our online store.BUT! The Worn Free gang are away on holiday right now and won’t be posting out any shirts for three weeks. HOWEVERif you order it now you’ll get a free mystery t-shirt with your order! Essentially 2-for-1 (if you don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks for the shirt!)