The History of Channel One Sound System
Channel One Sound System was born in 1979 by brothers Mikey Dread and Jah T. Before that time we played in parties and blues dances in 1973 with our father’s sound system Admiral Bailey who was also playing blues dances and weddings from the early sixties.
In 1975 we linked up with an elder sound in East London called King Edwards who was coming to the end of their sound system days. We merged the two sounds together and overnight became a force in East London armed with 4 foot & 6 foot double boxes (2 x 18” speakers) and various single 18” boxes what was amplified by a 3kw value amplifier.
In 1977 we bought our first truck, a Commer Carrier. We now had the transportation to get around without the need for hiring a vehicle. For the next two years we played locally and around London with other sound systems.
In 1979 we decided to rename the sound Channel One Sound System simply because we were playing nough tunes from out of the Channel One stable, Maxfield Avenue, Jamaica. In 1982 I (Mikey Dread) had a vision that I wanted to take the sound to a more international audience. The best places at that time were the colleges, polytechnics and universities.
In 1983 we started to go nationwide. Channel One started to be a travelling sound to places like Swansea, Cardiff in Wales, Bolton College in Lancashire, Plymouth University, Devon to the giant BIC venue in Bournemouth, Essex University to East Anglia University in Norfolk, Keele University in Staffordshire to Middlesborough University in Teesside in the North East of England. At the same time we were put on the bill with bands like Aswad, Misty in Roots and Ska bans like the Selectors and Bad Manners.
In 1983 we were given the opportunity to play Europe’s biggest street festival, the Notting Hill Carnival, London. Then we were playing to just 10 people for most of the day, 23 years later we are playing to 10,000 people a day.
In 1990 we took our first tour abroad with a 4 date tour of Italy and have been touring ever since. We have visited Sweden, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany & Finland along the way.
In 1994 we were the first sound System to travel to the Republic of Ireland for 2 gigs, we drove from London to Holyhead caught the ferry to Dublin port then drove to the other side of Ireland to a city called Galway. At that time it was strange for the Irish people seeing base bins being wheeled down Galway High Street into the Castle Club. The session itself was A1 because we took the crowd from all the pubs and clubs down the High street when they heard the heavy baseline. The day after we drove to Dublin and played to 800 people with a further 300 people being locked out side a venue called The Furnace. For the next few years we continued playing the college circuit up until 1998.
In 1999 we were invited to play at the University of Dub in Brixton, London which is a 3 sound system unity event.
In the year 2000 we went down to the South of France twice and played two memorable dances supporting Burning Spear on one and what was to be Dennis Brown’s last European show.
In 2004 we played at England’s biggest festival Glastonbury and ripped the place apart. The man controlling the PA system knew his pa had worked at the end of the 2 hour show. As usual the rain tore into Glastonbury for about 20 mins but the crowd stayed to make it the best two hours of the festival.
In 2005 we were back beating up Glastonbury when a man walked over to us and said he would like Channel One to come down under on the Big Day out Tour in Australia, which starts in Auckland, New Zealand for 1 date and another 5 across Australia, and true to his word we were on our way down under in January 2006. The first time ever for reggae music on one of the World’s biggest travelling rock tours. Channel One Sound System’s objective is to break down barriers through playing roots rock reggae music.
Channel One Sound System roars on like a lion.