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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Marley sidemen carry Reggae icon's beat

When Bob Marley lay on his deathbed in 1981, the members of his band, the Wailers, vowed to stay together and continue to promote their fallen leader's positive vibrations and "one love" worldview.

But money, as the song goes, changes everything.

Several Marley mainstays, including guitarists Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, continued performing as the Wailers Band until it split into factions. Family Man kept the Wailers Band name, leaving Marvin and Anderson to form a new unit, the Original Wailers.

"We worshipped Family Man for being one of the founding members of the Wailers," Marvin says by phone from London. "Although I was running the band, Family Man was the person who we all reported to. After awhile, his female companion came on board and took over and totally disrespected everybody, financially and otherwise. It's kind of like the John Lennon-Yoko Ono situation, you know?"

The Original Wailers, Marvin says, "focuses on the music and not just the money. The way Bob would have liked it."

Observing Marley up close, Marvin says, gave him an undying respect for the reggae great's bottomless well of inspiration, but also for his work ethic.

"He was a poet, great songwriter, great performer," Marvin says. "But most of all, a workaholic. He would sleep, on average, four hours a day. We'd say, 'OK, Bob, time to go to sleep,' and he'd say, 'OK, just one more hour.'

"But it was a joy to be around him. He was a good leader and also a funny character, too. He wasn't serious all the time."

Marvin, Anderson and the band's new vocalist, Desmond Hyson, have worked up some original material and have readied an album titled "Justice."

But the band also remains committed to preserving Marley's memory and his music for fans of all ages.

"(Bob's music) is very people friendly," Marvin says. "Kids hear it from their parents, from their bigger brothers and sisters. They come to the concerts. You ask 'em, 'How did you get into this music?' and they go, 'Well, my dad has the vinyl, and I went out and bought the CD.'"

Marley's message "is something you can talk about forever, because it's the truth and it's positive. It's a great legacy to be a part of." 


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