LITTLE ROCK Bob Marley is gone, but the Wailers live on. And the band doesn’t even have any of the Marley offspring, as one might assume.
Rather, Aston “Family Man” Barrett, who was a part of the band that Marley led until his death from cancer in 1981, anchors the Wailers.
Going back to the beginning, the Wailers began in 1963 when Peter Tosh recruited Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston Wailer to join him in a group that later grew to incorporate 15 other musicians who were in and out of the band. Tosh and Wailer left in 1974, so Marley found replacement musicians and put his name at the front, as the group became Bob Marley & the Wailers, with Barrett and his drummer brother, Carlton Barrett, part of Marley’s new lineup, which also included Marley’s wife, Rita and two other women, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths.
Marley and the Wailers took their music to a worldwide audience — selling more than 250 million albums during Marley’s lifetime — thanks to many a song that became reggae standards: “Exodus,” “Lively Up Yourself,” “Roots Rock Reggae,” “Three Little Birds,” “Trenchtown Rock,” “Get Up Stand Up,” “No Woman No Cry,” “Is This Love,” “Jamming,” “Waiting in Vain” and “Stir It Up.” Eric Clapton helped popularize their sound with his version of another of their hits, “I Shot the Sheriff.”
The current group, known as The Wailers Band, became active again in the late 1990s, performing with Sting, Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana. In 2006, the group played on 311’s Summer Unity tour, and joined 311 again in 2010. Kenny Chesney recorded one of his No. 1 country hits, “Everybody Wants to Get to Heaven,” with The Wailers Band in 2008 on his album, Lucky Old Sun.
Current members are Koolant Brown and Elan Atias on lead vocals, Keith Sterling on keyboards, Anthony Watson on drums, Audley Chisholm on rhythm guitar, Chico Chin on trumpet, Everald Gayle on trombone and Brady Walters and Cegee Victory on backing vocals.
The recent documentary, Marley, about the life and times of Bob Marley, has interview segments with Barrett, although there is no mention of his court battles in Jamaica and Great Britain, as he attempted to gain a portion of the money that he claims is owed to him for creating the signature bass lines in Marley’s music. The film does mention that Marley died without a will, leaving his family and band members with no clue as to how he wanted his fortune to be distributed.
To add to the confusion, in 2008, two other former Wailers, Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, began touring in a band called The Original Wailers (although Bunny Wailer and Beverley Kelso are the only surviving members of the actual original lineup that featured Marley and Tosh).
The Wailers Band
Opening act: Butterfly with Irie Soul
8 p.m. Sunday, Revolution Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock
Admission: $20 advance, $25 day of show
Weekend, Pages 44 on 11/08/2012
Print Headline: Wailers Band keeps on, without any Marleys