Alexander Minto Hughes (2 May 1945 – 13 March 1998 ), better known as Judge Dread, was an England|English reggae and ska musician. He was the first white musician|recording artist to have a reggae hit record|hit in Jamaica, and the BBC has Censorship of music|banned more of his songs than any other recording artist due to his frequent use of sexual innuendo and double entendre s.
Hughes was introduced to Jamaica n music when he lodged as a Adolescence|teenager in a West Indies|West Indian household in Brixton, South West (London sub region)|South West London. Thompson, Dave:"Reggae & Caribbean Music", 2002, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-655-6 He met Jamaican Musician|artists Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster through his job as a Bouncer (doorman)|bouncer at London nightclubs such as the Ram Jam in Brixton, and through another job as a bodyguard. allmusic.com biography by Jo-Ann Greene Larkin, Colin:"The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae", 1998, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9 After a brief spell as a professional wrestler (performing under the name "The Masked Executioner"), and as a debt collector for Trojan Records, he worked as a Disc jockey|DJ on local radio and ran his own Sound system (Jamaican)|sound system.
When Prince Buster had a big underground hit in 1969 with "Big 5", Hughes capitalized on it with the recording of his own "Big Six", based on Verne & Son's "Little Boy Blue", which was picked up by Trojan boss Lee Gopthal, and released on Trojan's 'Big Shot' record label under the stage name Judge Dread, the name taken from another of Prince Buster's songs. "Big Six" reached #11 in the UK Singles Chart in 1972, selling over 300,000 copies and spending six months on the Record chart|chart, despite getting no Airplay (radio)|radio airplay due to its lyrics. Further hit single s followed with "Big Seven" (co-written by Rupie Edwards ) and "Big Eight" — both following the pattern of lewd versions of nursery rhyme s over a reggae backing — as well as "Y Viva Suspenders" and "Up With The Cock".
He was the first white Musician|recording artist to have a reggae Chart-topper|hit in Jamaica, leading him to travel to Jamaica to perform live, where many were surprised that he was white. Dread had 11 UK chart hits in the 1970s, which was more than any other reggae artist (including Bob Marley ). The Guinness World Records|Guinness Book of World Records credits Judge Dread for having the highest number of Censorship of music|banned songs of all time, 11. In the 1970s, tabloid (newspaper format)|tabloid newspaper s expressed concerns that young fans of the comic book character Judge Dredd might buy Judge Dread's records by mistake, and hear things that may corrupt their minds. Several of his songs mentioned Snodland, the small town in Kent where Judge Dread lived. There is a road in the town of Snodland named after him, the Alex Hughes Close.
Judge Dread was also a songwriter, coming to the attention of Elvis Presley, who had planned to record "A Child's Prayer" as a Christmas gift to his daughter Lisa Marie Presley|Lisa Marie in 1977, but died before making the recording. The famine in Ethiopia prompted Dread to help organize a benefit concert featuring The Wailers (1963-1974 band)|The Wailers and Desmond Dekker, and he also released a benefit single "Molly". Despite this single not featuring Dread's trademark innuendo, it was still banned from radio airplay, and failed to chart. The radio stations' wariness over Dread records led him to release singles under the pseudonyms JD Alex and Jason Sinclair, but the BBC Radio|BBC still banned them.
Judge Dread died from a Myocardial infarction|heart attack as he walked off stage after performing at The Penny Theatre in Canterbury on the 13 March 1998.
"Big Six" (1972) - UK Singles Chart # 11
"Big Seven" - (1972) - # 8
"Big Eight" - (1973) - # 14
"Big One" / "Oh She Is A Big Girl" - (1973)
"Big Nine" - (1974)
"Grandad's Flannelette Nightshirt" - (1974)
" Je t'aime... moi non plus|Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus " - (1975) - # 9
"Big Ten" - (1975) - # 14
"Christmas In Dreadland / Come Outside (song)|Come Outside " (1975) - # 14