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Reggae legend Aston Barrett of Bob Marley’s band, The Wailers talks Marley and more

Bob Marley and his band, The Wailers, are the first names that come to mind when you think of reggae music. One of the last surviving members of the original band, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, and The Wailer Band are coming to Indian soon. We caught up with Barrett on email:

Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett (middle) with members of The WailersAston ‘Family Man’ Barrett (middle) with members of The Wailers

Q. How did you begin your journey as a musician?
A. Well, I started out on a one-string bass that I made myself. I was inspired by Jazz musicians and played the upright bass.

Q. How did you meet Bob Marley?
A. We got introduced through mutual friends. My brother (Carlton Barrett) and I had a band and Bob had heard about us. He wanted us to be part of what he and Bunny (Neville Livingstone) and Peter (McIntosh) were doing. The Wailers were like a four-leaf clover. We were special.

Q. Tell us about the initial days.
A. We were the architects of reggae. It was a magical time. When we joined Bob, Peter and Bunny, the band was just starting out. The drumbeats of my brother and I were to become its heartbeat. Although, the band eventually broke up, my brother and I remained with Bob and carried the movement forward.

Q. What is the secret of achieving a great reggae bassline?
A. I love singing. So, when I’m playing the bass, it’s like I’m singing baritone. I keep creating lines.

Q. You have been leading the band since Marley’s death. How difficult was to keep the band alive and relevant?
A. This music maintains its own relevance. Continuing the mission of spreading the music was my last promise to Bob and that is what we have been doing.

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