Story and photos by Gargs Allard
The Wailers, which formed in 1963, originally consisted of reggae greats Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. In the beginning, they emulated Motown and were basically a ska singing group. Shortly thereafter, singers Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith were added. Soon, however, Marley, Tosh and Wailer learned to play instruments and together they gradually developed the reggae sound that fans all over the world would come to love. They also took to the practices of the Rastafarian religion.
After Tosh and Wailer left the group to pursue successful solo careers, Marley continued with the band’s initial success and became an international superstar after signing with Island Records. The Barrett brothers, who were members of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s studio band, The Upsetters, soon took over duties as main players, with Carlton “Carly” Barrett taking over the drums and Aston “Family Man” Barrett on the bass.
Soon Marley, with the Barrett brothers making up the main structure of the band, added Junior Marvin and Al Anderson on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl “Wya” Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson on percussion. The “I Threes”, consisted of Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley’s wife Rita, on backing vocals. Marley requested the girls to remain pure by kissing the lips of no men (with the exception of Rita kissing Bob’s lips) so that their singing could have more potency.
Tragedy hit the group when Marley died of skin cancer that started in his foot from a soccer wound and metastasized to his brain, taking his life in 1981. The band continued on without Marley but in April of 1987 the tragedy around the band continued when Carlton Barrett was murdered in his home in Jamaica. The trend of misfortune further continued when one of the original Wailers, Peter Tosh, who had gone onto great solo success after leaving the band, was murdered in his home after a gang of three thugs invaded it on September 11 of that year. Dennis “Lobo” Lobban, who Tosh tried to help after Lobban’s release from jail, was solely convicted for Tosh’s murder.
Here is a list of Wailers members up until Bob Marley’s death from Wikipedia:
Bunny Wailer, 69, is the only remaining living member of the three original Wailers.
For years, and despite some legal wrangling, Aston “Family Man” Barret has led various incarnations of the post-Marley Wailers. Although he has fathered 41 children, the moniker “Family Man” came before he had any.
While discussing his comeback record that became “Double Fantasy” in 1980, John Lennon positively referred to the the Barrett brother’s sound when he said,
“In fact, if they really wanted the right sound, they should go to Jamaica. Go to the same studio that Bob Marley used. Get down with the Rasta men and smoke ganja in big spliffs or hash in chillums. Then they could get that deep-down, super funky, bass-box sound that comes from Trenchtown. You couldn’t get that sound in New York. No way!”
Today’s lineup of The Wailer’s Band consists of:
Aston “Family Man” Barrett – bass
Aston Barrett, Jr. – drums
Junior Marvin – lead guitar & vocals
Donald Kinsey – lead guitar
Owen “Dreadie” Reid – rhythm guitar
Josh David Barrett – lead vocals
Javaughn Bond – keyboards
Shema McGregor – vocals
(list courtesy of Wikipedia)