Bob Marley’s Band

A short (about 20 years) but what an incredible career?


Bob Marley and The Wailers



Bob Marley and the Wailers were a Jamaican reggae band created by Bob Marley. The band formed when self-taught musician Hubert Winston McIntosh (Peter Tosh) met Neville Livingston (Bunny Wailer), and Robert Nesta Marley (Bob Marley) in 1963 and taught them how to play guitar, keyboards, and percussion. By late 1963 Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith had joined the Wailers. After Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the band in 1974, Bob Marley began touring with new band members. His new backing band included brothers Carlton Barrett and Aston “Family Man” Barrett on drums and bass respectively, Junior Marvin and Al Anderson on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl “Wya” Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson on percussion. The “I Threes”, consisting of Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley’s wife, Rita, provided backing vocals.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


1. Band Members

1. Bob Marley – guitar, vocals (1963-1981 | died 1981)

2. Peter Tosh – guitar, keyboard, vocals (1963-1974 | died 1987)

3. Bunny Wailer – percussion, vocals (1963-1974 | died 2021)

4. Cherry Smith – backing vocals (1963-1966 | died 2008)

5. Beverley Kelso – backing vocals (1963-1965)

6. Junior Braithwaite – vocals (1963-1964 | died 1999)

7. Constantine Walker – backing vocals (1966-1967)

8. Hugh Malcolm – drums, percussion (1967-1972)



9. Aston Barrett  (Family Man) – bass (1970-1981)

10. Carlton Barrett – drums, percussion (1970-1981 | died 1987)

11. Earl Lindo – keyboards (1973-1981| died 2017)

12. Alvin Patterson – percussion (1974-1981| died 2021)

13. Rita Marley – backing vocals (1974-1981)

14. Marcia Griffiths – backing vocals (1974-1981)

15. Judy Mowatt – backing vocals (1974-1981)

16. Al Anderson – guitar (1974-1975, 1978-1981)

17. Tyrone Downie – keyboards, percussion, backing vocals (1975-1981)

 18. Junior Marvin – guitar, backing vocals (1977-1981)

2. The Wailers’ History

According to the Bob Marley official Website.

From humble beginnings growing up in the impoverished island of Jamaica, the nucleus of the Wailers – Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh – turned to music at an early age. Music not only provided the boys with a creative form of expression, but also offered them their best chances for rising out of poverty. The Wailers’ sound and energy, bound together by artistic and spiritual integrity, was fostered during their teens.


Joe Higgs’ Third Street Yard

Joe Higgs

Before becoming professionals, Bob, Bunny, and Peter, along with other area youths learned the finer points of music performance from Joe Higgs, a devout Rasta. From his home on Third Street, Higgs offered free music clinics. Higgs used the clinics as an opportunity to help motivate the youth by teaching them harmony techniques, breath control, music theory, and songwriting.

At the age of sixteen, Bob’s first taste of the music business, while attracting some attention with his songs, “One Cup of Coffee” and “Terror,” ended bitterly. In 1961 Bob broke off his relationship with Leslie Kong, after the producer failed to pay him money for songs he recorded for his Beverley label. Despite the bitter experience, Bob decided to take the next step forward by forming a group with Bunny and Peter, along with Junior Braithwaite and backup singers Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith, calling themselves The Teenagers which became The Wailing Rudeboys, then The Wailing Wailers.

They eventually shortened the name to The Wailers, which represented more than their style of singing. The name also reflected the pain and anguish the boys felt deep within their souls while growing up in Trench Town. “The word ‘wail’ means to cry or to moan,” said Peter Tosh later. “We were living in this so-called ghetto. No one to help the people. We felt we were the only ones who could express their feelings through music, and because of that, people loved it. So we did it.”


Clement Dodd and Studio One 

Clement Dodd

The Wailers auditioned for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label who was impressed enough to offer the group a contract. After recording “I’m Still Waiting” and “It Hurts to Be Alone,” Cherry and Junior, who sang lead on “It Hurts to Be Alone” left the group. In Junior’s absence, Bob took over lead vocals to record “Simmer Down” for Studio One. In February 1964, “Simmer Down” hit Number 1. The group continued recording more hits for Dodd, but

determined to earn enough money to finance his own record label, Bob left for his first visit to Delaware.

Johnny Moore, a studio musician at the ‘Simmer Down’ sessions, noted “Bob didn’t necessarily seem like the leader. The thing was so closely knit, the sound, whatever they were trying to get at: that was the objective, the force of what they were trying to accomplish. Rather than worrying about you lead or me lead: everyone would put their shoulder and heave-ho. They seemed to release that it’s much easier to get things done that way.” During Bob’s absence, Rita continued to record with the Soulettes, having a hit with her version of the current U.S. pop hit, “Pied Piper.” But her cousin Dream was spending more and more time filling in for Bob with the renascent Wailers, who, after having shut down for several months after Bob’s departure, were now doing live appearances again, sometimes with Rita singing backup instead of Beverly Kelso, who was losing interest. With a basic lineup of Bunny singing lead, Peter second lead and Dream on

harmony, they worked up new material and performed it at the State Theater, where they were booked to open shows for visiting American R&B singers Betty Everett (“The Shoop Shoop Song [It’s in His Kiss]”) and sometime Drifter Ben E. King (“Spanish Harlem”).

Coxsone like the new stuff, cut it and released it as “Wailers’ material: “Let Him Go (Rude Boy Get Gail),” “Dancing Shoes,” “Jerk In Time,” “Who Feels It Knows It,” “What Am I to Do,” “I’ve Got to Go Back Home,” “Sinner Man,” “Hoot Nanny Hoot,” “Dream Land,” “Rolling Stone,” “Can’t You See.”

They eventually shortened the name to The Wailers, which represented more than their style of singing. The name also reflected the pain and anguish the boys felt deep within their souls while growing up in Trench Town. “The word ‘wail’ means to cry or to moan,” said Peter Tosh later. “We were living in this so-called ghetto. No one to help the people. We felt we were the only ones who could express their feelings through music, and because of that, people loved it. So we did it.”


Wail’N Soul’M: Musical Independence 

Upon returning to Jamaica, Bob revealed to the other Wailers that he intended to launch his own operation, the Wail ‘N’ Soul ‘M record store, in honor of its first two acts, The Wailers and The Soulettes. This was also to be the name of The Wailers’ first label; the first single released, Bend Down Low, was recorded at Studio One but produced by Bob, while Mellow Mood appeared on the B side. The sound was rougher and tougher than the Studio One material had been; the feel was looser, freed-up, though that was partially the effect of the slower rhythm of rock steady. However, facing grim financial realities, the label had to close down.


Danny Sims

Danny Sims

In 1968, The Wailers hooked up with Danny Sims after one of his artists, Johnny Nash spotted Bob covering several of his tunes at a groudnation ceremony. Over the course of their relationship which ended in 1972, The Wailers recorded over eighty songs for Sims including a rock steady version of “Put It On” and an original hit called “Soul Rebel.” As Sims was trying to break Bob as an R&B artist in America, he tried to keep Bob from writing

about Rastafari. Sims didn’t have an exclusive agreement with The Wailers, however, and the group was free to record for whomever they liked.

Accordingly, the band returned to the Beverley label and Leslie Kong who was having great success with rocksteady. The Wailers’ atypical approach to rocksteady was characterized by a visceral, feisty flamboyance fighting a tugging backbeat. Their philosophy was “Give the drummer some!” (as soul giant James Brown liked to shout), but be sneaky about it. However, the songs The Wailers cut from these sessions, “Caution,” “Soon Come,” and “Do

It Twice,” sold poorly as The Wailers were losing flavor with the local record charts.


Lee “Scratch” Perry 

Lee “Scratch” Perry

This misfortune proved to be a rich opportunity for The Wailers as they would soon record with Lee “Scratch” Perry, a producer who sold his records in his Upsetters Records shop. The Wailers teamed up with Perry’s studio band, the Upsetters, to record “My Cup,” “Duppy Conqueror,” and “Soul Almighty.” The musicians became friendly after discussing the exploitive practices of Jamaica’s music scene which lead to a fusion between the Upsetters and the Wailers, providing Perry with a new studio band.

The Upsetters’ rhythm section, bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Carlton on drums, were happy to join the Wailers as they were aware that they were dealing with a spiritual message. Their first collaboration was “Small Axe,” a warning to Jamaica’s Big T’ree studios that the Wailers were ready for any competition.

The Upsetters’ rhythm section, bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Carlton on drums, were happy to join the Wailers as they were aware that they were dealing with a spiritual message. Their first collaboration was “Small Axe,” a warning to Jamaica’s Big T’ree studios that the Wailers were ready for any competition.


Island Records 

Chris Blackwell and Island Records

In 1972 the Wailers signed with Chris Blackwell and Island Records. It was a revolutionary move for an international record company and a reggae band.

For the first time a reggae band had access to the best recording facilities; further, before the Wailers signed to Island it was considered that reggae sold only on singles or cheap compilation albums. Catch A Fire was beautifully packaged and heavily promoted and was followed a year later by Burnin’.

In support of these releases, the group would embark on tours of Europe and America. However in the middle of their first tour of Europe, Bunny became disenchanted with life on the road and left the group. Peter left soon after, in a dispute with Marley. Chris Blackwell recalls: “Peter was always difficult. I found Bunny easier than him, because Bunny was consistently no: he didn’t want to tour overseas, he didn’t want to do this, do that, didn’t want to have anything to do with Babylon. Peter was yes and then no, yes and then no.

And that was more difficult. So really I hardly worked with Peter at all after Burnin’. But I did continue to work with Bunny.”

Christ Blackwell (Island Records) and The Wailers



Peter and Bunny Leave 

Bob and Bunny continued to maintain a good relationship. Bunny simply wasn’t prepared to make the sacrifices that life on the road as a new group entails. Bob was ready for this: he knew that it would not always be so uncomfortable. Peter, meanwhile, was being told by those around him that he was as powerful a performer as Bob, and could easily make it on his own.

All three members of the group had outgrown each other; they needed space to work.

With Bunny and Peter gone from the group, Bob sat down with Family Man and Carly, all that was left of the group that made and toured

Catch a Fire and Burnin’, to talk things through. By  October 1974, Bob’s new LP Natty Dread was completed. In London, where he had gone for the final mixing and overdubbing of the record, Bob was introduced to an American guitarist named Al Anderson who eventually joined the group. Anderson had overdubbed some parts on ‘Lively Up Yourself’ and ‘No Woman, No Cry’.

With a finished LP, the Wailers were without a full road lineup to support the album. Soon after, Bob asked the I-Threes (Rita, Marica Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt) who sang on Natty Dread, to join the group. The album, released to critical acclaim in 1975, was credited to Bob Marley and The Wailers; registering greater sales figures than their previous two albums, The Wailers’ music was gaining international recognition, continuing their missionary work.

Throughout the years the Wailers lineup would change as members shuffled in and out or moved on to other endeavors. Tyrone Downie (keyboards), Junior Marvin (guitar), and Earl “Wire” Lindo (guitar) have remained members of the Wailers throughout their careers and have also recorded with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.


The I-Threes 

The I-Threes

In 1974, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths came together to form the singing group, The I-Threes, which provided the rich harmonies that backed Bob Marley until his death in 1981.

Shortly after Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the band, Bob Marley formed a backing vocal group: the I-Threes.

At the end of 1974 Bob went out to stay with Lee Perry for a few days, at his home in Cardiff Crescent in the Washington Gardens section of Kingston. “We were all of us talking, talking, and Bob said, ‘Bwai, mi not know what fe do,'” remembers Perry’s girlfriend Pauline Morrison.

“So I said to him how American artists would all have a very identifiable set of people to work with. And if you have three girls with you, you will look representative of the way people are performing in foreign. Bob laugh and say, ‘Which three girls?'” “I say to him, ‘You have Marcia Griffiths, you have Judy Mowatt, and you have Rita, your wife,’ He said to me, ‘Them girls, deh?’ Mi say, ‘Of course, because those are the three girls mi really see now could go fe back up a man like you.” “I’m say, ‘Ok, mi see how it go.'”


Rita Marley

Rita Marley

Rita Marley, the widow of deceased Reggae Artist Robert Nesta Marley was born Alpharita Constantia Anderson in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba on July 25, 1946. She was raised in Kingston, Jamaica by her aunt who lived on Greenwich Park Road. While living with her aunt she studied Practical Nursing, however, her career as a Nurse was soon delayed due to the fact that she wanted to start a family. She is also known as “The Queen of Reggae” and is an accomplished Singer in her own right. A member of the group the “I Threes”, former back-up singer for Bob Marley Peter Tosh and “The Wailers”.

She met Bob Marley in the mid sixties. After he found out that she was a talented singer, he  asked her to audition for a group called “The Soulettes”, who were later named “The I Threes”. The group catapulted to fame with their song “I Love You Baby”. The “I Threes” consisted of her cousin Constantine Walker and Marlene Giffordwas. Bob Marley managed and mentored the group, and in the process of developing their careers, he fell in love with Rita Marley.

Rita Anderson and Robert Nestor Marley were married on February 10, 1966. Although she was raised a Christian, once married, she became interested in the Rastafarian Movement after a visit of Emperor Haile Selassie to Jamaica in April of 1966.

She has recorded several reggae albums as a solo artist and has received accolades and success in the United Kingdom.

After Bob Marley’s death she decided to transform his home into the Bob Marley Musem. A place where his music and legacy can be enjoyed and commemorated by Jamaicans and visitors from around the world. She is also the Founder and Chairperson of the Bob Marley Foundation, Bob Marley Group of Companies, and The Founder of The Rita Marley Foundation.

The Rita Marley Foundation is known for its philanthropic endeavors within the Jamaican and African Communities. Through the foundation, she has adopted 35 Ethiopian children and assisted hundreds of children in Ghana. Her foundation works fervently to help the poor and hungry in Third World countries and they have also endowed numerous scholarships to music students in Ghana’s Berklee College of Music.

Mrs. Marley’s dedication to the memory of Bob Marley has been tireless, even after his death, she continues to lobby to have his remains sent to Ethiopia. His after life spiritual resting place. She believes it was her late husband’s dying wish to be buried on the continent of Africa because it was his dharma or mission in life.

Rita Marley continues to dazzle audiences by collaborating with Fergie on a song called “Mary Jane’s Shoes” and performing vocals for Khaled on his album “Liberte”. She has also added the title of Author to her repretoire with a book named “No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley”.

She has been diligent in maintaining the memory and heritage of the Marley family for several decades. She is revered and honoured for being the driving force behind her husband’s and childrens’ stardom. A proud grandmother, and mother of Sharon, Cedella, David (Ziggy),Stephen, Stephanie and Serita Marley.

For all of her achievements in Jamaica and in Africa, the Jamaican Hall of Fame salutes and celebrates the life of Mrs. Rita Marley!



Marcia Griffiths

Marcia Griffiths

Marcia Griffiths was the diva of reggae, having had a stream of Studio One hits in the 1960s before scoring a massive international success, “Young, Gifted and Black,” with her boyfriend Bob Andy, also a seminal figure in Jamaican music.


Bob Andy and Marcia separate in 1974, Marcia takes part of The I-Threes.

In 1973, Marcia had joined Bob Marley and The Wailers and Rita Marley for the harmonies on the album Catch A Fire. In 1974, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt sing all together on stage (at Rita’s request).

Their trio seems interesting and so, Bob Marley decides to take them as his background singers (in order to replace Peter and Bunny too). They become The I-Threes.

The I-Threes will work for Bob Marley for seven years, from 1974 to 1981 (Bob’s death)

Marcia Griffiths: Dubbed the “Empress of Reggae,” Marcia Griffiths has maintained a successful singing career. Her crossover hit, “Electric Boogie,” made the line dance, the Electric Slide, an international craze which also earned her the privilege of having the highest selling reggae single by a female artist to date.


Judy Mowatt 

Judy Mowatt

Judy Mowatt, meanwhile, had joined a singing trio called The Gaylettes in 1967. When the group split she continued as a solo act. She and Rita Marley first sang together when Marcia needed some harmony vocals on a song she was recording at Studio One with Bob Andy.

Judy Mowatt: In addition to the contribution of her talent as 1/3 of the I-Threes, Judy Mowatt lent her beautiful harmonies to albums by Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Big Youth, Pablo Moses, U Roy, Freddie McGregor, and the Wailing Souls. Her solo recordings, including the hit “Black Woman” in 1980 and “Only a Woman” two years later, marked her as a powerful spokesperson for the Rastafari movement and feminist causes. After 22 years as a practicing Rastafarian, Ms. Mowatt converted to Christianity and recorded several gospel albums.


The trio settled on the name The I-Threes.

The evening that Judy and Rita had first worked with Marcia at Studio One, Marcia had been due to perform at a club in New Kingston called House of Chen: she asked them to sing harmony vocals with her on a song by The Supremes called “Remember Me.” The audience was enraptured, and Bob got to hear about it. 

 Jah Live 

The I-Threes

The performance had taken place close to the day when it was reported in the local press that Haile Selassie had died – on August 27, 1975. This, remembers Judy Mowatt, was a very sad, cold day in Jamaica. Some immediately lost their faith. But many more clung on, knowing that this was a false message the Bible had predicted.

“We were not afraid. We knew that it was not true. We knew that He had the power to disappear,” Mowatt said.

Soon after Rita’s daughter Sharon ran up to Bob: “Is it true? Jah is dead?”

Bob denied it. A few days later he recorded “Jah Live,” one of his most beautiful songs, in answer to Sharon’s question. As soon as the recording was completed it was rush-released as a single in Jamaica.

“So Bob wrote this song, ‘Jah Live,'” recalls Judy Mowatt, “and he went into the studio and he invited us to to the backup singing. Immediately after he started to do the album Natty Dread and we were asked to do the backup vocals on that. And when he did the first tour away from Bunny and Peter we were asked to tour with him. We felt highly privileged to be asked to work with such a great performer. I was excited. I saw it as divine intervention.

Because Bob is a messenger of the Lord, and God has chosen me to work with that messenger. I felt really elated,” Mowatt says 

The I-Threes Debut

Early in 1975, Bob aired this new line-up, in a show supporting the Jackson Five. By early spring, the group now worked under the name of Bob Marley and The Wailers had expanded even further. As ever, the Barrett brothers were there holding down the rhythm section. Al Anderson, meanwhile, had joined as guitarist; Seeco Patterson, Bob’s brethren from Trenchtown, became the group’s percussionist; Tyrone Downie played piano and synthesizer, leaving the Caribs, the resident group at the Kingston Sheraton Hotel; and Wire Lindo returned to the fold on organ.

Bob Marley & The I-Threes


(Source: The Bob Marley official Website)