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Exclusive: Bikey Dread talks promoting biggest sound clash in history, Coxsone and sound system culture with MCN

On Friday 26th March 1993 History was made when world Promotion & Bagga John’s Surespin Promotion presented the 1st ever World Sound Cup Clash. The clash featured four of the roughest sounds in the world at the time all battling for the coveted World Sound Clash Cup. This featured from England and the UK cup holder, SAXON, also the people championship SIR COXSONE, from New York, AFRIQUE. And from Jamaica the 1992 cup winner BODYGUARD. 

The following year hot on the success of 1993’s event the second World Sound Cup clash was held 50 miles outside of London in Milton Keynes this event saw the largest ever turnout in the UK ever for a Dancehall Sound System and led to the suspension of the event for nearly 20 years due to the police concerns over crowd control.

We at Music Culture News caught up with one of the more high profile members of the first world clash promotion team Bikey Dread from out of Coxsone Outernational and asked him some questions on World Clash and sound system culture.

Question. How/when did you get into reggae/ sound system culture 

Bikey: I fell in love with music at a young age. I used to hang around the jukebox at a local bar in St Thomas JA. I was about 5/6 years old. There used to dance in Soho Sq. with a sound called Phoenix, that’s my first memories of the sound system and I was hooked. I used to sneak out of the house when my granny was asleep to go to the dances on my own because all my friends were very young and they couldn’t get out. I loved the weight and big boxes. Then arriving in the UK I built a sound while at school. Modeling the Amp case of Sir Coxsone. Daring to dream of playing in a dance with Coxsone.

Question. Did you ever lift the speaker boxes? I think that lifting box is a major part of really having an appreciation for the culture.

Bikey: I met Blacker dread while Coxsone was playing in club 67 in Wolverhampton. He brought me onto Coxsone sound and I started as what they called a box bwoy. Believe me, that was a great pleasure to be lifting Coxsone Sound boxes into a dance.

Question. As a soundman what has been your highest point the time when you felt the most joy?

Bikey: the day I finally found the courage to pick up the microphone and started to chat on Sir Coxsone was the game changer for me.

 

 

 

Question. As a promoter of one of the greatest if not the greatest dances ever WORLD SOUND CLASH how did you come up with that concept in that era?

Bikey; “The World Sound Clash” I have been keeping sound clashes since I joined Coxsone in the 1970s. I had Coxsone clashing with sounds such as Quaker City, Jungle man, Saxon all over the country. In around 1991 when I started to get involved in the dance music scene (acid house/Jungle) I saw how those guys promoted their events. They printed tens of thousand full-color flyers rather than our usual 5-10000. So I did a clash in Birmingham with Coxsone, Saxon, Asher World, Luv Injection, and V Rocket and printed 40,000 flyers. The printer thought I was mad. It was a Friday night and when I get to Handsworth outside PCRL record shop to check ticket sales, there was a huge crowd and what I thought was a fight at the shop, but it was people trying to buy tickets for the dance, I thought I need to replicate that in London. Then The Football world cup qualifiers were building up and everywhere the talk was about the World Cup. That’s when In 92 I thought why not do a World sound clash? I could not believe that out of all the clashes being kept around the world, no one did a World clash. The rest is history as they say.

Question. This question is a fan question what was the official number of people who attended the event in Milton Keynes? 

Bikey: It was over 10, 000

 
 

 

Question. What was it like for looking at the event as the Promotor knowing you had put on such a dance? 

Bikey: On the day of the dance my phone started to go crazy. People started to rush around London to find tickets for the Dance. That’s when I realized that this is big. During the event, I was too busy to step back and really think about it. But the day after, you realize you did something really special. I felt that after all the years promoting sound clashes I have achieved something big

Question. How did you choose the sounds to be in the first world clashes? 

Bikey: I wanted the best sounds around at the time and as you can imagine I had a lot of options. Thought about elimination dances but at the time the task of putting together elimination clashes in Jamaica and the USA was a task too far. Also, the tradition of sound clashes in the UK was to pick the best sounds around and put them together, so that’s basically what happened.

 

 

Question. What was your favorite sound from the three events that you kept as in entertainment value and just a joy to listen to?

Bikey: My thoughts are that all the sounds stepped up to another level for the World Clash. However for the first clash Bodyguard was exceptional, I thought they were very innovative and Johnny set the pace for others to follow.

The second clash was Saxon because it looked like they learned a bit from Bodyguard in the first clash.

In the third clash, I had two favorites, Shashamane representing Africa and Barrier Free Representing Japan. They really surprised me.

Question. What was your favorite dance out of the three you kept in the U.K. because they were all successful?

Bikey: My Favourite was the first one at Roller Express because that laid the foundation for all future major clashes. As they say “the first cut is the deepest”

Promotion team Irish and Chin

 

Question: Do you have an opinion on Irish and Chin and World clash picking up what you put down? 

Bikey; I didn’t really put it down as such because I tried to continue but because of what happened at Milton Keynes the clash got blacklisted so every time we tried to arrange a clash it got canceled. I even teamed up with some promoters in Jamaica to do it there, but it didn’t work out. As for Irish and Chin continuing with it, I thought that was a good thing because something so major in the sound system business needed to be continued. But my only complaint was that they [Irish and Chin] tried to say they created it and that was wrong. Respect has to be given where it’s due.,,, You follow?

Question. Who was really the baddest sound Coxsone or Saxon?

Bikey: Coxsone was the baddest sound in the UK for many years. We ruled supreme. However Saxon came along with a different vibe of MCs that eventually captured the younger generation. Therefore they became the baddest sound. 

Question. Have you an opinion on where we are at today in reggae sound system culture, have you even an interest in how the business is in 2021?

Bikey: Sound system has been a major part of my life so it’s difficult not to be interested in it today. When I started in sound it was the number one media platform for reggae music, if you wanted to hear reggae music you had to go listen to a sound system. In 2021 there are many different media to listen to music so the sounds don’t have the following and the importance they used to have. Also nowadays it’s so easy to get dubs and specials, that every kid can get them even just to play on their radio show or just to impress their brethrens, so the sound systems have lost the uniqueness that they once had,

Question. When you look back at the legacy and the works that you and others like you put in in that era of Coxsone/Saxon how does it make you feel knowing that that was the greatest sounds in U.K. reggae music history? 

Bikey: I am proud and grateful that I was able to put something together along with the crew, Speedy, Bagga, and Beris Bassa that will be remembered as part of Reggae’s music history.

Question. We see Sir Lloydie talking about David do you have an opinion?

Bikey: Lloydie Coxsone was a very influential figure in my life and a major power in UK reggae music. David Rodigan also played a major part in the UK reggae industry. There are too much war and destruction in this world. So I think within the music business there is no need for anything but love to anyone who helps to promote Reggae music.

Question. Are you ever going to return to Soundsystem even exhibition clash against Saxon both sounds full remaining crew would be a great money-spinner or U.K. cup Clash revisited with original sounds maybe we can ask Eaton fi hire back Babyface and the Dred can beg Dennis for another chance and Jonny…

Bikey: Anythings possible….

Question. What’s Bikey Dread up to now you ain’t holding a mic or counting gate receipts 

Bikey is still doing various businesses in the UK and the Caribbean.

 Look out for more inspirational interviews from more of the true pioneers. Bikey we salute you and apprecilove you for all the works you put in, thank you from every sound man in every part of the world.

 

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Written by The Editor

warrior dedicated to the cause of fighting the takeover of our culture.

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