Spreading the musical message

Cassie Pence
Special to the DailyBob Marley's reggae co-conspirators light his one-love fire Saturday at the Dobson Ice Arena.

Bob Marley’s most trusted musical accomplice, bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett, and Marley’s other long-time musical co-conspirators, guitarist Al Anderson and keyboard player Earl “Wya” Lindo will spread his musical message Saturday at the Dobson Ice Arena.

The original Wailers – Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh – emerged from the depths of Jamaican poverty to express the pain and anguish of their peoples’ souls.

“The word “wail’ means to cry or to moan,” the late Peter Tosh said. “We were living in this so-called ghetto – no one to help the people. We felt we were the only ones who could express their feelings through music and, because of that, people loved it. So we did it.”

The original Wailers’ “Simmer Down” hit No. 1 on the Studio One label in February 1964. The band experienced some minor setbacks after this initial success – their new records sold poorly and they were losing favor with the local record charts. But as some doors close others open, and the Wailers found themselves recording with Lee “Scratch” Perry, a producer who sold records in his Upsetters Records shop. Here the trio aligned forces with Perry’s studio band’s rhythm section – the Barrett brothers – and with Perry’s guidance, the Wailers cried out hit after reggae hit.

But it wasn’t until 1972 when the Wailers signed with Chris Blackwell of Island records that the band gained international success. A revolutionary turn for reggae as a genre, it was the first time any reggae band had access to top recording facilities. Smothering the notion that reggae music was fit only for singles and cheap compilation albums, “Catch a Fire” was polished and packaged well, spiraling the band into a tour of Europe and America.

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To outsiders the overseas opportunity appeared a blessing for flourishing the one-love philosophy; but for Bunny and Tosh, it created an irreparable riff within the band. Bunny and Tosh eventually left the Wailers to attend to solo careers. They had outgrown each other.

Bob Marley, Family Man and the late drummer Carly Barrett played on. In London for the final mixing of “Natty Dread,” Marley met American guitarist Al Anderson, the only Ameirican ever to play with the Wailers.

The Wailers had a full road lineup to support their new album, which was released to critical acclaim in 1975. Most importantly, though, it was credited to Bob Marley and the Wailers. Their missionary work had gained strong attention.

And the torch of that missionary work still burns – brighter and stronger, during a time of potential war, when we may need it most. The Family Man lights the one-love fire and spreads Bob’s message 7:30 Saturday night at the Dobson Ice Arena.

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