Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley, OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter, musician and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim, blending mostly reggae, ska and rocksteady in his compositions. Starting out in 1963 with the group The Wailers, he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide. The Wailers would go on to release some of the earliest reggae records with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.
After the Wailers disbanded in 1974, Marley pursued a solo career upon his relocation to England that culminated in the release of the album Exodus in 1977, which established his worldwide reputation and produced his status as one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, with sales of more than 75 million records. Exodus stayed on the British album charts for fifty-six consecutive weeks. It included four UK hit singles: “Exodus”, “Waiting in Vain”, “Jamming”, and “One Love“. In 1978 he released the album Kaya, which included the hit singles “Is This Love” and “Satisfy My Soul”.
Diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma in 1977, Marley died on 11 May 1981 in Miami at age 36. He was a committed Rastafari who infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time and credited with popularising reggae music around the world, as well as serving as a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity. Marley has also evolved into a global symbol, which has been endlessly merchandised through a variety of mediums.
Bunny Wailer, born Neville O’Riley Livingston, was a Jamaican singer and songwriter who was a founding member of the legendary reggae group, The Wailers. He was born on April 10, 1947 in Kingston, Jamaica and passed away on March 2, 2021 at the age of 73.
Along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer was one of the original members of The Wailers. He contributed greatly to the group’s early success with his soulful, melodious voice and his skills on the percussion and drums. He was a key figure in the development of the reggae genre, and his contributions to the group’s sound helped to popularize reggae music around the world.
After leaving The Wailers in the early 1970s, Bunny Wailer embarked on a successful solo career. He released a number of acclaimed albums, including “Blackheart Man” and “Protest,” which showcased his unique sound and his powerful lyrics about social and political issues.
Throughout his career, Bunny Wailer was known for his unwavering commitment to the Rastafarian movement and his advocacy for social justice and equality. His music was a reflection of his beliefs and his desire to inspire people to work towards positive change.
In recognition of his contributions to Jamaican music and culture, Bunny Wailer was awarded the Order of Merit, one of Jamaica’s highest honors, in 2017. He will be remembered as a pioneering figure in the history of reggae music and a champion of social justice and equality.
Peter Tosh was a Jamaican musician and songwriter, born on October 19, 1944 in the rural town of Grange Hill in the western parish of Westmoreland, Jamaica. He is best known as a founding member of the legendary reggae group The Wailers, alongside Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer.
Tosh grew up in poverty and faced numerous struggles throughout his life. He was raised by his aunt and uncle after his parents died when he was young. He moved to Kingston as a teenager and started performing with the vocal trio The Wailers, which eventually evolved into a quintet.
Tosh was known for his uncompromising political and social commentary in his music, advocating for the rights of the oppressed and marginalized. His solo career was characterized by a focus on the themes of resistance, revolution, and spirituality.
Some of his most popular songs include “Legalize It,” “Equal Rights,” and “Get Up, Stand Up” (co-written with Bob Marley), all of which became anthems for the international movement for the decriminalization of marijuana and the fight against social injustice.
In addition to his music career, Tosh was also a devout Rastafarian and a strong advocate for the legalization of cannabis. He was tragically killed in September 1987 at the age of 42 in a violent home invasion. Despite his untimely death, his legacy as an influential musician and activist continues to inspire people around the world.
Aston Francis “Family Man” Barrett (born November 22, 1946) is a Jamaican bass player and record producer. He is most known for his longstanding role as the bass player for Bob Marley & The Wailers, his brother Carlton “Carly” Barrett’s drumming, and their collective contribution to the development of reggae music. Aston’s nickname, “Family Man,” stems from his fathering of a large number of children.
Barrett was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and got his start in the 1960s as part of the Hippy Boys, a band that served as the house band for many early reggae and rocksteady hits. He developed his skills alongside his brother Carlton, who played the drums. In the late 1960s, the brothers joined Lee “Scratch” Perry’s band, The Upsetters, where they played a key role in the development of reggae music.
In 1970, Bob Marley, who had previously worked with the Barrett brothers during their time with The Upsetters, invited them to join The Wailers, the band he led along with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh. It was with The Wailers that Barrett would create his most influential and widely-known work. His innovative bass lines became the backbone of the band’s sound and heavily influenced the development of reggae as a genre.
While a part of the Wailers, Barrett also took on roles as a songwriter, arranger, and producer. After Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left the band in 1974, the Barrett brothers became even more critical to the band’s sound. They continued to play with Bob Marley & The Wailers until Marley’s death in 1981.
Barrett’s brother Carlton was tragically killed in 1987, which was a heavy personal and professional loss for him. Despite this, he continued his musical career, performing as part of The Wailers Band, which included many of the former members of Bob Marley & The Wailers.
Throughout his career, Barrett’s unique and innovative bass playing has been recognized worldwide. His bass lines have been sampled by various hip hop and electronic music producers, underscoring his influence on music far beyond the realm of reggae. In 2021, Barrett was awarded the Jamaican Order of Distinction for his contributions to the country’s music.
Despite his retirement in 2018, Barrett’s music and influence persist, ensuring the legacy of Bob Marley & The Wailers lives on.
Carlton “Carly” Barrett (17 December 1950 – 17 April 1987) was an influential reggae drummer and percussion player. His musical development in the early years was with his brother Aston “Family Man” Barrett as a member of Lee “Scratch” Perry‘s “house band” The Upsetters. The brothers joined Bob Marley and The Wailers around 1970. He wrote the well known Bob Marley song “War” and with his brother Aston co-wrote “Talkin’ Blues”. Carlton Barrett is featured on all the albums recorded by the Wailers. Barrett popularised the one drop rhythm, a percussive drumming style created by Winston Grennan. With Carly’s beats and his brother Aston’s bass, the Wailer rhythm section planted the seeds of today’s international reggae. Barrett was murdered outside his home in Jamaica on 17 April 1987.
Alvin “Seeco” Patterson was a Jamaican percussionist and a longtime member of The Wailers band, known for his distinctive and innovative style of drumming. Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1934, Patterson began playing music in his early teens and quickly gained a reputation as a talented percussionist.
In the early 1960s, Patterson joined The Skatalites, a pioneering Jamaican ska band, and played on many of their classic recordings. He later joined The Wailers in the mid-1970s, and played on some of the band’s most iconic albums, including “Catch a Fire,” “Burnin’,” and “Natty Dread.”
Patterson’s unique approach to drumming, which blended elements of African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms, helped to define the sound of reggae music and has influenced countless musicians around the world. He was also known for his skill on a variety of percussion instruments, including congas, bongos, and timbales.
Patterson continued to play and record with The Wailers until his death in 1999, and his contributions to the band’s music remain an essential part of their legacy. He was a true pioneer of Jamaican music, and his influence on reggae and world music is still felt today.
The I Three, commonly called “I Threes“, previously known as the Soulletes, were a Jamaican Girl group/reggae singing group that was formed in 1974 to support Bob Marley & the Wailers, after Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer — the original Wailer backing vocalists — left the band.
The three members were Marley’s wife Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths. Their name is intended as a spin on the Rastafarian “I and I” concept of the Godhead within each person
By age 23, Donald Kinsey had already earned his place in music history, having played in the bands of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Albert King. His credits for 1976 alone include Peter Tosh’s Legalize It and Live and Dangerous albums, as well as Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibration and Live at the Roxy. In short, Kinsey, master of the poignant guitar solo, has one of the most impressive blues and reggae resumes imaginable.
Son of bluesman Lester “Big Daddy” Kinsey, Donald was born in 1953 and raised in Gary, Indiana. Playing with his father’s revue, he became known as “B.B. King, Jr.” At 18, he was hired to go on the road with blues great Albert King, who featured him on his classic Stax albums Blues at Sunrise, Blues at Sunset, I Wanna Get Funky, and Montreux Festival. Donald’s next project, the short-lived power trio White Lightnin’, was signed to Island Records, which led to his celebrated stints with labelmates Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. Between 1976 and 1984, Kinsey went on several tours with Tosh, including opening for the Rolling Stones in 1978, and recorded six albums. He became a full-fledged member of Bob Marley and The Wailers in 1976 and, as described below, was in the room the night Bob Marley was shot by would-be assassins. Three years later, Donald joined the reggae legend’s final tour.
Since the mid 1980s, Kinsey has devoted himself to playing alongside those who bear his family name. He’s recorded four albums with his father and five with the Kinsey Report, which features his brothers Ralph on drums and Kenneth on bass. The following interview took place in Gary, Indiana, on August 1, 1985. At the time, Big Daddy Kinsey’s first album, Bad Situation, was about to be released.
Earl Wilberforce “Wya” Lindo (7 January 1953 – 4 September 2017), sometimes referred to as Wya, was a Jamaican reggae musician. He was a member of Bob Marley and the Wailers and collaborated with numerous reggae artists including Burning Spear.
While attending Excelsior High School in Jamaica, he played with Barry Biggs, Mikey “Boo” Richards, and Ernest Wilson in the Astronauts, and later played organ in the band Now Generation, and with Tommy McCook and the Supersonics, and the Meters. Aston “Familyman” Barrett heard Lindo and recommended him to play for a Saturday afternoon television program Where It’s At on JBC. Lindo also spent his early days working at Coxsone Dodd‘s Studio One, where he played on innumerable recordings.
In 1973, he was invited to join The Wailers on a US tour, going on to play on Burnin’. He left the Wailers in 1974 to join Taj Mahal‘s band.
Lindo can be heard on an album credited to the Impact All-Stars. Released in 1975, the album is a collection of dub tracks recorded at Randy’s Studio 17. On his return to Jamaica he played on recordings by Big Youth, Culture, I Roy, and Al Brown, and had some success with solo singles “No Soul Today” and “Who Done It”. In 1978 he rejoined the Wailers, playing on Babylon by Bus, Survival, and Uprising.
After Marley’s death, Lindo was a member of The Wailers Band.
Lindo died in a London hospital on 4 September 2017, aged 64, shortly after being admitted with abdominal pain. Among the tributes paid, Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, described him as “an exceptionally gifted musician who played a pivotal role alongside Bob Marley and the Wailers in the global success of Jamaica’s reggae music.”
Tyrone Downie (20 May 1956 – 5 November 2022) was a Jamaican keyboardist and pianist best known for his involvement as a member of Bob Marley and The Wailers.
He studied at Kingston College and joined The Wailers in the mid-1970s, making his recording debut with the band on Rastaman Vibration, having previously been a member of the Impact All Stars. He also played with The Abyssinians, Beenie Man, Black Uhuru, Buju Banton, Peter Tosh, Junior Reid, Tom Tom Club, Ian Dury, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Alpha Blondy, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Sly & Robbie. He resided in France and was a member of the touring band of Youssou N’Dour, whose album Remember he produced.
In 1983, Grace Jones released the single “My Jamaican Guy“. Unbeknown to Downie, he (though in a relationship and not romantically linked to Jones) was the subject of the song.
Downie released the solo album Organ-D in 2001.
Downie played keyboards on the album ‘Maroon Songs: Born Free, Live Free, Ever Free’ with Earl Chinna Smith‘s InnadeYard Binghistra Movement, released on August 17, 2022.
Downie died in Kingston on 5 November 2022, at the age of 66.
Nathaniel Ian Wynter (30 September 1954 – 30 March 2022), also known as Natty Wailer, was a Jamaican-born musician and Rastafarian, best known for his work with Bob Marley and the Wailers, Aston Barrett and King Tubby. He is credited on recordings as Natty Wailer, Ian Winter, Ian Wynter, or Brother Ian.
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