Original article posted at jamaicaobserver.com
While he defined the One Drop sound that helped make Bob Marley and The Wailers a global force, drummer Carlton “Barrett ” Barrett is largely forgotten in contemporary reggae. On December 18, one day after what would have been his 72nd birthday, his legacy will be honoured by his friend, Gladstone “Gilly Ras” Gilbert, who was also part of The Wailers inner circle. Barrett, younger brother of Wailers bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett, was murdered in Kingston in 1987 at age 36.
Gilbert will stage an event in downtown Miami that features the Aston Barrett Jr Band, led by Carly’s nephew. Performances are also expected from Tyrone Downie Jr and Andrew Downie, sons of Wailers keyboardist Tyrone Downie who died in November.
“The reason why I am keeping this gig is to show respect and honour to not just Carly, but some of the other great musicians that help paved the way for this powerful, conscious, rootical, mystical, peace and love music outa ‘Jamup’ we call reggae that the whole world love,” said Gilbert, who grew up in East Kingston with the Barretts.
Gilbert, who was Marley’s traveling chef for five years until the singer’s death in May, 1981, first met them during the late 1960s at the Green Mist, a popular club in their hometown.
The Barretts were members of The Hippy Boys, a band that would later include bassist Robbie Shakespeare. They became the driving force behind The Upsetters, producer Lee “Scratch” Perry’s band that backed The Wailers on classic songs such as Duppy Conqueror and Small Axe.
Carlton Barrett and his brother played on all of Marley’s hit albums for Island Records including Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibration, Exodus and Kaya. He was killed outside his home in an incident the court ruled was orchestrated by his wife and two men. All were imprisoned.
Gilbert said the Barrett family will be presented with a plaque reflecting “love and remembrance” for his contribution to reggae.