Together with Bob Marley, The Wailers have sold over 250 million albums and have played to an estimated 24 million people across the globe performing an average of 200 dates a year. The anchor of the band is Aston “Family Man” Barrett, who in addition to being Marley’s most trusted lieutenant and co-producer, played on countless other classic reggae hits throughout the seventies. The authenticity he brings to the Wailers’ sound is indisputable and yet today’s line-up combines old school know-how with lead vocals from one of Jamaica’s most exciting new singers. The Wailers are undoubtedly the world’s premier reggae and world music group who bring high energy shows to fans across the globe.
The band performs varied sets from the extensive Wailers discography including those from Legend. Legend is #46 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Legend is also the best-selling reggae album of all-time, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide and a 2014 re-release topped Billboard’s Top 5 – proving the timeless appeal of their music spans generations. On its resurgence in popularity, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett laughs said the following: “It only took 30 years. My life with The Wailers has been an odyssey. To be in the top ten is hard for me to even imagine. We’ve come so far. Sharing this music with so many people around the world was my last promise to Bob and here we are.”
The band also performs selections from Exodus named by Time Magazine as the “Album of the 20th Century”, it was released in 1977. In keeping with the band’s tradition of touring with album themes, the Wailers have been performing entire sets devoted to songs from the specific albums, Legend, Exodus, Uprising and the album Survival released in 1979.
The current lineup includes Mr. Barrett’s young son, Aston Barrett Jr., a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass, drums and organ at varied occasions, helping bring the music forward to a new generation. On drums is Anthony “Benbow” Creary, who recorded and toured wtih the band in the early years. The two lead singers are Dwayne Anglin, known as Danglin and Joshua David Barrett. Lead and rhythm guitar and backing vocals by Audley “Chizzy” Chisholm. On backing vocals is Cegee Victory and keyboards is Chaka Taylor.
Outside of their groundbreaking work with Marley, the Wailers have also played or performed with international acts like Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, and Alpha Blondy, as well as reggae legends such as Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Burning Spear. As the greatest living exponents of Jamaica’s reggae tradition, the Wailers have completed innumerable tours, playing to a fan base that continues to grow and expand as new generations of fans are exposed to the music.
Their nucleus formed in 1969, when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh recruited the Barrett brothers – bassist Aston “Family Man” and drummer Carly – from Lee Perry’s Upsetters to play on hits such as Lively Up Yourself, Trenchtown Rock, Duppy Conqueror, and many more besides. Inspired by Rastafari and their ambitions of reaching an international audience, this is the line-up that pioneered roots rock reggae, and signed to Island Records in 1971. Bunny and Peter left two years later. It was at this point that the in-demand Barrett brothers – whose rhythms also underpinned innumerable seventies’ reggae hits by other acts – assumed the title of Wailers, and backed Marley on the group’s international breakthrough album, Natty Dread. Under Family Man’s musical leadership, they then partnered Bob Marley on the succession of hit singles and albums that made him a global icon, winner of several Lifetime Achievement awards, and Jamaica’s best-loved musical superstar. Drummer Carlton “Carlie” Barrett died in 1987, leaving his brother as the main beneficiary of the Wailers’ mantle.
Never ones to be pigeonholed in the past, The Wailers reaffirmed their continuing relevance and versatility in modern music with a guest spot on country superstar Kenny Chesney’s hit single, “Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven,” and also appeared in a video for the song which was shot in Jamaica. They have just rejoined him for a new single called “Spread the Love,” released in June of 2013. Nor have they forgotten their social consciousness, consistently donating proceeds to benefit the World Food Program (WFP) in conjunction with the United Nations, feeding thousands of starving children around the globe
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.”
Reggae music has never stopped evolving but for millions of people from around the world it’s still defined by the songs of Bob Marley and the Wailers. It’s been their heartbeat rhythms that have inspired so much of what’s followed since, as evidenced by the enduring popularity of the “one-drop” reggae sound.