Together with Bob Marley, the Wailers have sold in excess of 250 million albums worldwide. 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 other tours, playing to an estimated 24 million people across the globe.
Inspired by Rastafari and their ambitions of reaching an international audience, these musicians pioneered roots rock reggae, and signed to Island Records in 1971. The Barrett brothers--bassist Aston “Family Man” and drummer Carly--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.
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. Today, the band’s anchor is Aston “Family Man” Barrett; 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.
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