Originally, the Wailers were an early '60s vocal trio from Jamaica's ska days. Led by the teenage Bob Marley, the singers befriended current bassist Aston "Familyman" Barrett in 1967, when the threesome began recording for groundbreaking lunatic producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. Familyman and his younger brother, Carley, then made up the notoriously funky rhythm section of Scratch's house band, the Upsetters. After recruiting organist Earl "Wya" Lindo at the dawn of the next decade, the Barrett brothers and Wya subsequently toured and played on virtually every hit Marley recorded, up until his death in 1981.
Today, the Wailers continue to play Marley's music. The 11-piece band includes Familyman and Wya, and is complemented by Drummie Zeb, better known as the drummer for the classic British reggae band Aswad. Their three-piece horn section consists of virtuoso session men, all of whom played alongside Marley, either live or in the studio. Rounding out the sound is keyboardist Keith Sterling, whose name appears on nearly every major reggae album recorded between 1985 and '95. Filling Marley's enormous shoes is Gary "Nesta" Pine, who not only reworks Marley's material, but also creates fresh avenues off the well-worn path.
Let's face it, everyone in reggae plays Bob Marley's songs. No one else, however, is able to play them with the same authority or conviction as the Wailers.
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