May 16, 2014|
There is no more legendary band in Jamaican music history than The Wailers. Formed in 1969, the group has created an extraordinary body of work whose echoes are heard in every corner of the world today. Original members included the man hailed as “The Artist of the 20th Century,” Bob Marley and his vocal partners Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, alongside the ground-breaking rhythm section of the Barrett brothers, Carlton on drums and Aston “Family Man” on bass. Today Aston leads the band as it continues its worldwide campaign of promoting peace, love and equality through the message of reggae and Rastafari.
To date, The Wailers have sold over a quarter of a billion albums, including seven top-ten entries on the British pop charts. Widely hailed appearances at major festivals include Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and Rothbury, along with superstars such as Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Sting, the Fugees and Alpha Blondy. More than 24 million fans have seen them performing live. In 2012 alone they played an impressive 180 concerts. Signed to Island Records in 1972 by Island Records’ chief, Chris Blackwell, they released two albums, “Catch A Fire” and “Burnin’,” that fused rock licks with the sound of modern roots reggae, startling critics and breaking through onto the airwaves of the UK and the U.S. Like the Beatles, each of the three Wailers vocalists was capable of composing and singing lead, and by the end of 1973, the singers split apart to pursue successful solo careers. Carlton and Family Man decided to stay with Bob and the group now became known as Bob Marley and the Wailers.
At the millennium, The Wailers’ 1977 masterpiece, “Exodus,” was chosen by Time magazine as the best album of the 20th century. It contained Bob’s anthem, “One Love,” called the “Song of the Millennium” by the BBC, which played it every hour for 24 hours during its globe-spanning coverage of the turn of the century. The New York Times called Marley the most influential musician of the 20th century, and placed a copy of the video of his performance at London’s Rainbow Theater in a time capsule to be opened in the year 3000, calling it among the most significant musical performances of our times. The Grammys bestowed upon him a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award and he received a star on Hollywood Boulevard. During his lifetime he was given Jamaica’s highest civilian award, the Order of Merit, and in 1978 he received the United Nations Medal of Peace on behalf of 500 million Africans.
Marley passed away from melanoma cancer at the age of 36 in 1981, instructing the band to carry on his mission. Family Man, the rock hard foundation of The Wailers’ sound, has led the band through various incarnations ever since. Because he was the arranger and co-creator of Marley’s finest works throughout the 1970s, hearing him play the Wailers’ songs today is the closest one can come to experiencing the excitement of those immortal performances during Bob’s lifetime.
Their tight and historically sensitive blend was never more apparent than at the beginning of 2013 during The Wailers’ “Survival Revival” tour of North America, on which the band reproduced what many critics consider Marley’s most profound statement of his personal philosophy, 1979’s “Survival” album. This follows other recent critically praised tours on which they have played the “Exodus” and “Uprising” albums in their entirety.
Now well into their fifth decade, The Wailers truly are living legends who embody the nobility, conviction and progressiveness of Bob Marley and his music. Their journey is far from over as the world awaits The Wailers’ next move in their “One Love” revolution. “Our music is the magic,” says Fams “the oxygen of the people. It’s the message of roots, culture and reality, meant to spread peace and love to all."
39 S. Main St.