BOB MARLEY LAWSUIT PENDING
"Give me back my place in history,"
says Wailers’ Aston "Familyman" Barrett
NORFOLK, Va. – March 16, 2001 - A multi-million-dollar lawsuit for copyright infringement, business defamation and breach of fiduciary duty is to be brought after the consistent failure by the Bob Marley estate and Island Records to credit those responsible for songs and records that made Bob Marley famous worldwide as one of music’s best-known artists.
The contributions made by Aston "Familyman" Barrett, his brother Carlton and members of The Wailers has been increasingly and systematically deleted. New and re-issued albums credit songs and arrangements – originally written and co-produced by the Barretts and The Wailers – only to Bob Marley.
"The Lifetime Achievement Award given to Bob instead of Bob Marley and The Wailers at this year’s Grammy Awards was the final straw," said Familyman.
"Bob and The Wailers were a group, and we wish to protect the essential part we played in the creation of the legend," he continued. "To mark the 20th anniversary of Bob’s early and unfortunate death, more albums are being re-released. It’s an insult that The Wailers are being removed from the credits.
"I was Bob’s best friend," Familyman added, "and I know this isn’t what he wanted. We’re going to stand up for our rights and take legal action."
Barrett’s U.S. and British lawyers have detailed the background to Familyman’s and his brother’s multiple legal claims. On March 2 they held a news conference in London to serve notice of the pending lawsuit.
"It’s right and fair that Familyman is recognized for his work and the significantly measurable contributions he made to reggae music, and to his first love of the band Bob Marley and The Wailers," said U.S. legal counsel Stu Levy of Eisenberg, Tanchun and Levy.
"We intend to see that Family Man gets what he is entitled to," Levy continued, "and we’ll pursue his case in the court systems of America and England if need be."
British legal counsel Chris Hutchins added, "Under English law pertaining to the entertainment business, record companies and publishers have a fiduciary duty to pay their clients. Elton John initiated and won a landmark case against publishers who had an obligation to account properly for royalties received."
What is at stake is tens of millions of dollars. Bob Marley and The Wailers have one of the largest-selling catalogues in the history of recorded music. Coinciding with the anniversary of Marley’s death, global interest is generating steadily rising record sales.
"I still love and miss Bob dearly," Familyman said. "We wrote and produced songs together that today still touch the hearts and souls around the world of all who hear them.
"If Bob were alive today, there wouldn’t be legal discussions. He wouldn’t have allowed this situation."
Contact: Bill Reid 757.622.9877
Sean Brickell 800.333.6397
# # #
PRESS RELEASE - March 1, 2001 London, England
Aston "Familyman" Barrett, the legendary bassist, producer and arranger with Bob Marley and the Wailers has retained a New York and London counsel in an attempt to prevent the continuous and systematic degradation of his and the Wailers role in the Bob Marley legend. According to counsel, people associated with Bob Marley, his estate, and record company have been raising Bob Marley to the level of a Rock-n-Roll icon, have neglected Mr. Barrett, his deceased brother, Carlton and other members of the Wailers to little more than glorified side men. To set the record straight and to recover what may amount to be tens of millions of unpaid songwriter and artist royalties, Barrett has sought legal counsel.
Stu Levy of the firm Eisenberg Tanchum & Levy, the Barrett’s (Wailers) U.S. lawyer, previously represented Danny Sims in his copyright lawsuit against the Bob Marley Estate. In that case, it was attorney Levy who discovered that Rita Marley who had forged her name to transfer the stock certificates of Bob Marley Music, to herself. Also representing Aston "Familyman" Barrett and the Wailers is English lawyer Chris Hutchings of the Charles Russell firm, which represented Bunny Livingston Wailer in his successful multi-million dollar suit against the Bob Marley Estate.
At the press conference, both lawyers discussed in detail the multiple legal claims that Aston "Familyman" Barrett and the Wailers have against the Bob Marley Estate and Island Music. Stating in the press conference, attorney Stu Levy disclosed that both Aston "Familyman" Barrett and his brother Carlton Barrett signed a 1974 Island Record contract with Bob Marley for the record Natty Dread which then broke Bob Marley and the Wailers internationally, Levy stated that neither Aston "Familyman" Barrett nor Carlton Barrett had received any record royalties from any Bob Marley and the Wailers record since the death of Bob Marley. Additionally, Levy commented that both Barrett brothers were "partners" with Bob Marley as they constituted the other half of the group "The Wailers". Futhermore since the beginning both brothers had never been paid songwriters or publishing income for the several songs they wrote for multiple Bob Marley and the Wailers records.
Despite the lack of significant financial compensation for their major contributions (they wrote, played, produced and arranged all the songs with Bob) to the international success of Bob Marley and the Wailers, the straw that broke the camels back was last weeks U.S. Grammy lifetime achievement award which was given to only to Bob Marley and not to the entire group "The Wailers". Citing recent multiple examples where "The Wailers" had been intentionally and systematically eliminated from recognition with Bob Marley, the lawyers made their case that someone involved with the Estate was trying to delete the Wailers importance in the hugely successful career of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Additionally, it was pointed out that there were several examples where the Barrett’s songwriting credits were changed and given to Bob Marley. In the 2000 Island Records release of Chant Down Babylon, the song "Rebel Music" written by Aston "Familyman" Barrett originally recorded for Natty Dread, was credited to Bob Marley.
English lawyer Chris Hutchings said the facts suggest there are several legal claims available to Aston "Familyman" Barrett including copyright, defamation, and breach of fiduciary duty. Hutchings explained that under English law, as it pertains to the entertainment business, record companies and publishers have a fiduciary duty to pay their clients. Hutchings cited an English case involving Elton John where the court wrote "there was a fiduciary obligation on the part of the Defendants (the Publishers) to account properly for royalties received".
What is at stake is tens of millions of dollars as Bob Marley is one, if not the biggest, selling catalogue artist in the history of recorded music. Furthermore, later this month Island/Universal plans to re-release the entire Bob Marley and the Wailers catalogue to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death. It was explained that Aston "Familyman" Barrett had attempted, in the last several years, to work directly with the family of Bob Marley to work this out, but they refused. Commenting on this action Aston "Familyman" Barrett stated that, "Bob was my best friend and my partner and I loved him dearly. We wrote songs together and produced music together that today still touches the heart and soul of everyone around the world. Upon hearing all this today, I know Bob must be rolling over in his grave. But today I am left with no choice but to stand up for my rights and insist on collecting, what I worked my whole life for and what I am rightfully owed."
The Wailers featuring original members Aston "Familyman" Barrett, Al Anderson, and Earl "Wya" Lindo are currently on tour in America and plan to tour Europe in May and June.
For more information go to www.wailers.com.