In a memoir published by Akashik Books, Doctor Dread reveals “The Half That’s Never Been Told,” a 256-page account about his encounters and travels promoting Jamaica’s reggae music and in addition tells another story that advances his own investments in the genre.
Throughout the book Washington D.C, native, born Gary Himmelfarb describes and more often than not, repeats his affinity to Rastafari, Emperor Haile Selassie I and the music that beckoned him to visit the island of its birth.
How he detoured from a career selling fish to one that exalted a claim owning Real Authentic Sounds (RAS) Records and a publishing company he named Tafari Music becomes fodder for reflection on how he influenced the lives of some of the premiere recorders of reggae music.
In brief chapters, he details information of how he rendered his guidance and in the process guided many as the most enabling force to their successes. Although deferring to avoid the tag of Great White Hope, the often self-medicated Dread delivers a fraction of what insiders might have expected from an individual whose roster includes Melodians, Inner Circle, Joseph Hill/Culture, Tiger, Hugh Mundell and Augustus Pablo, Eek-A-Mouse, Black Uhuru, Michigan & Smiley, Tenor Saw, Israel Vibration, Charlie Chaplain, Eddy Grant, Burning Spear and Bunny Wailer.
“Each chapter is a song,” he said, “and I have layered them with different verses and choruses.”
And if this book parodied any CD, hits would feature encounters with Freddie McGregor, Gregory Isaacs and producer Philip “Fatis” Burrell.
Those were the true gems of his revelation.
Most interesting too are chapters nostalgically recounting his adventures in South America, his life-threatening heart attack in 1995 — “Doctor Please Help Me” and an eye-opening too-short insight into “The Fish Business.”
Prior to committing to reggae, Doctor Dread worked with his family members in the fish industry. Apparently, he was quite adept at buying and selling the chicken of the sea and could well have made a profitable and probably less stressful lifestyle had he pursued a daily grind among vendors bound by refrigerators.
Doctor Dread was not that guy.
He dabbled on and off with the prospect of settling with consistency, routine and perhaps stability and even less danger.
But by his own account said, “While many people trod off to work each day and punch a time clock and have no real love for their jobs, and are only there to get a paycheck, I had the luxury of doing what I truly loved. My work became my life.”
“The Half That’s Never Been Told” will satisfy the curiosity of those with an insatiable appetite for all things reggae.
Seemingly, honest and sometimes funny, Doctor Dread attempts to set the reggae record straight on the role he played in captivating a real authentic Jamaican sound.
To that effort he penned his version of some of the events he encountered while forging intimate relationships with Jamaican artists. A nice read, sometimes hilarious and spell-binding — a brief mention of an incident with former Irish parliamentarian and singer Sinead O’Connor attests to.