* You’re over in the UK. Glad to be here again?
I’m very much looking forward to it. I grew up in England although I was born in Jamaica. I went to school in London and my mother still lives in London so I’ll be able to see my family and some of my old school mates too. It’s going to be awesome. I want to thank you for all of the love and support you’ve shown us over the years. We’ll do a show that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
* You’ll be playing the classic Legend album in full on this tour. Whose idea was it to base the tour on that album?
There’s so many hits on there and it was a big seller for us, it just made sense to play the whole album each night on tour. We’ll be playing some other songs too like Kinky Reggae that people like and one of my favourite songs to play is Want More. We’ll also do a couple of new songs that we’ve recorded, including one called Stand Firm that we hope to put out in 2018.
* The Wailers today features yourself and the incredible bass lines of Aston Barrett, Tyrone Downie on keyboards and Donald Kinsey that helped to create that music. Is it important to you as original members of Bob Marley’s band to continue to tour and keep the songs and Bob Marley’s legacy alive?
Before Bob passed he said he really wanted us to keep playing his music. He said there was only one thing he wanted us to do and that was to play the music to as high a standard as he did or even higher, nothing below what he did. We promised him we’d always keep his standard up and I think we have achieved that. Someone came up to us during our last tour in The States and said we sounded as good as we did on the record.
* How did you find Josh David to sing Bob’s songs?
He had his own band in New York and he met Aston Jnr and they became really good friends. He came and jammed with us one night and we were amazed at how good he sounded, so we invited him to join the band full time.
* You joined The Wailers in 1977. How did you end up in the band?
I’d done an album with Steve Winwood from Traffic, and Chris Blackwell, the boss of Island Records, invited me on Valentine’s Day to come and meet Bob. I just thought it was for a session or something. Before Blackwell came for me, Stevie Wonder called me. His guitarist at the time couldn’t go on tour so Stevie Wonder called me and said he’d like me to go out on the road with him. I just could not make a decision so I asked my parents and friends. They said Bob Marley was born in Jamaica and so was I, they said there’s many lead guitarists in America but not many in Jamaica. They said it would be hard to find a guitarist from Jamaica who understands the culture and they all said I had to join Bob Marley so I did and certainly think I made the right decision.
* When Bob passed away in 1981, had you known for sometime that he was ill or did this take you completely by surprise?
I didn’t have a clue. I don’t think any of us knew how ill he was at the time. He’d grown up in the countryside before he moved to Kingston and he was playing soccer and he stepped on a rusty nail. He didn’t get a tetanus shot or anything. His toe got infected and the doctors said they’d have to cut it off but he refused. It unfortunately poisoned his blood stream and became cancerous. It was tragic and he wasn’t ready to go.
* What do you think of his legacy and your music now looking back on it 40 years or so later?
His music is so important. It’s the sort of music that doesn’t hit you head on, it sort of creeps up on you and before you know it you’re singing along and caught up in it. At the time I didn’t really think of the importance. The music was like folk music with African rhythms with a very spiritual vibe. It wasn’t just music for entertainment. It was music for knowledge, music for motivation, music for encouraging people to work hard and get on in life and music to make people happy. Bob made people very happy. It’s funny, when I talk to people and they might say that they were about to quit college or something and Bob Marley comes on the radio singing “Don’t worry, be happy, every little thing’s gonna be all right” and it makes them stop and think and do something positive. I think he had that impact on people’s lives through his music.
The Wailers play at the O2 Academy, Newcastle on 2nd March.
Original article posted at: www.chroniclelive.co.uk
Written by Mick Burgess