Massive Dread

b. Dennis James, c.1960, Trenchtown, Jamaica, West Indies. James began his career in 1982 touring with Byron Lee And The Dragonaires, which led to an appearance at the Jamaican Reggae Sunsplash show. His live appearances culminated in the Crazy Jim show, where he introduced the new DJ style that became known as ‘bubbling’ to an ecstatic audience. A adherent of the concept of leaving the audience ‘wanting more’, he withdrew from appearing on the live circuit. His reputation grew and he was soon recording for a number of Jamaican producers, including Tommy Cowan’s first wife, Valerie, at Music Mountain. He enjoyed his greatest achievements as a recording artist with Winston ‘Pipe’ Matthews and Lloyd ‘Bread’ McDonald of the Wailing Souls. The vocal group, like so many other reggae performers, focused their aims towards both artistic and financial independence by establishing their own record label. The Upfront Organisation released his version of the Wailing Souls’ ‘Things And Time’ as ‘Nice Dem Up’ as well as ‘One Way’, ‘Just Cool Melba’ and the Jamaican chart-topping ‘This Is Massive’. The Wailing Souls were asked to perform ‘Things And Time’, for UK’s Tyne Tees Television, which was included in a documentary of Jamaican music for The Tube. The programme also featured a rare performance from Massive Dread in his riding hat, worn in recognition of the then current craze of the jockey-ride dance. He performed at the Valentines dance alongside Yellowman, Eek A Mouse, Buro Banton and Billy Boyo at Aces. The DJs appeared as a showcase of the Volcano sound system’s top performers under the guiding light of Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes. In 1984, the hits continued with ‘Young Gal No Sell Your Body’ and ‘Justice Love And Harmony’ lifted from his second album. Following his association with Volcano, Massive Dread joined the Metro Media sound where he performed alongside Peter Metro and Zu Zu.

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