Update No. 38
Volume 6: Issue 2: Summer 2006

'Family Man' loses £60-m suit against Marley family
MICHAEL EDWARDS, Entertainment editor
Friday, May 12, 2006

From www.jamaicaobserver.com

THE UK High Court yesterday ruled against Wailers bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett in his £60-million claim against the Marley family and their record label.

Barrett was reportedly denied on all 23 points of the suit in a 172-page judgement.

Barrett had claimed the sum on behalf of himself and his late brother Carlton, in respect of contracts from 1974, including copyrights on six songs, and royalties.

But during the trial, Marley's widow, Rita, testified that the late reggae king had not considered the rhythm section to be full members of the band, rather that they were merely session players.

Barrett, who was travelling outside of London yesterday, had apparently not yet been informed about the verdict in the case.

"I haven't done anything wrong. I just don't have any friends in high places like them," he said, in reaction to the news. The verdict brings to a close a long and bitter fight on the part of the bassist, who insists that he was legitimately contracted to the late reggae king.

If the decision stands, it is likely that Barrett will also stand the legal costs of his opponents.

Leading Marley archivist Roger Steffens, who also spoke by phone to the Observer, said the verdict was a tremendous blow. "For all of us who believed that he had a good shot at this, the verdict is incomprehensible and devastating," Steffens said.

Adding insult to injury, he said, the result came on the 25th anniversary of Marley's passing.

On May 1, 2006, Amistad/Harper Collins will publish journalist Christopher John Farley’s “Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley.”

It’s the first major biography of Bob Marley since “Catch a Fire” more than two decades ago. For the book, Farley interviewed everyone who played a significant role in Marley’s life, including Bunny Wailer, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Rita Marley, Family Man, Chris Blackwell and others. Chuck D of Public Enemy, after reading Farley’s new biography, said "Christopher J. Farley has respect for the root of black music and art...Trust me, Mr. Farley clearly makes one feel the importance of a culture." And Kwame Dawes, author of Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius, called Farley’s new biography “brilliant.”

Says Farley: “I wanted to show readers a side of Bob they had never seen before. I wanted to tell them stories about Bob they had never heard before. There have been some interesting things written about Marley in the past, but this book tells the definitive story of his early years. My research uncovered the fact that other books about Bob got major facts wrong. My book sets the record straight by talking to the folks that knew him best--his family and the musicians who played with him.”

Christopher John Farley was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Brockport, New York. He is a 1988 graduate of Harvard University and a former editor of The Harvard Crimson and The Harvard Lampoon. He has worked as a reporter for USA Today and as a music critic, writer and editor for Time magazine. He is currently an editor on the staff of The Wall Street Journal.

Farley’s previous book, the novel “Kingston by Starlight,” is a fictional retelling of the true story of Anne Bonny, a woman who dressed as a man and became a pirate in the 18th century. Frank McCourt, author of “Angela’s Ashes”, called the novel “superbly poetic” and Edwidge Danticat, author of “The Dew Breaker,” said “I could not put it down.” The New York Times named “Kingston by Starlight” one of its “Editor’s Choice” selections and the Library Journal, in a starred review, compared it to “Moby-Dick” and “Treasure Island.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote that “Farley creates Bonny's interior life with insight and compassion. The voice of this novel is convincing and seductive.”

“In way, I've been writing about Jamaica my whole life,” says Farley. “My mother is from Jamaica. My brother Jonathan is set to take up an appointment as head of the math and computer science department at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in Jamaica. The island, reggae, and Bob Marley's music is in my blood. To write my new Bob Marley biography, all had to do is open up a vein and let it spill onto the page.”

Farley is also the author of “My Favorite War,” a satirical novel about the first Gulf War. The Washington Post raved that “My Favorite War is one of those rare jewels. It has everything a page-turner should….chapters that hurl you forward, three-dimensional characters who come in all colors and genders, contemporary hipness that will preserve well over time, not to mention intrigue, romance, equal-opportunity stereotypes, political correctness and incorrectness.” Farley’s work is included in The Vintage Book of War Fiction, a collection of the finest writing about war in the 20th century which also features pieces by Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. Farley is also the co-author of “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues,” a book which served as the companion volume to the PBS series. Scorsese called Farley a “great biographer and critic.” Farley’s biography “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman” was a national bestseller.

Various online booksellers, including Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, are accepting preorders for “Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley” right now.

By Christopher John Farley

The Huffington Post 18 April 2006

This week, the New York Times published a story reporting that folk-rocker Neil Young was set to release a new politically-charged album that was "overtly partisan." Pearl Jam, the Seattle-based rock band, just came out with a single, "World Wide Suicide," that seems to be critical of President Bush's handling of the Iraq War. In recent years, a number of country singers have released songs praising the president and the troops and the conduct of the war.

Politics has returned to music. It never really left, but the Iraq War has put it on the radio, on the charts and in the mainstream media. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a war to raise the voices of political songwriters.

So it's a good time to look back at the greatest political singer-songwriter in music history: Bob Marley. May 11th is the 25th anniversary of the reggae singer's death.

Like a great politician, Marley transcended politics. In many ways he was like Barack Obama with a guitar. And dreadlocks. And a spliff. Well, maybe he wasn't that much like Obama, but you get what I'm going for here.

Marley could have toured the red states and the blue states. He could have toured the magenta states too, if they had them. It's hard to find people that hate Bob Marley. I once did an interview with Bob Dylan and the subject of Marley and his songwriting came up. Dylan told me "Bob Marley's music isn't political. Bob Marley's music is universal."

And, of course, the other Bob was right. Dylan did write "Like a Rolling Stone," after all, so he knows a little something about songcraft. Marley's genius is like that of William Faulkner or James Joyce: he made the local into the universal. Marley is also a lot more fun to dance to than Faulkner or Joyce.

I once saw an interview in which someone referred to Canada as the Bob Marley of countries. In other words, the speaker was using Marley as symbol for something innocuous, inoffensive, and easy-going.

Nothing could be further from the truth. They have a word they use in Jamaica, "Irie." It means many things, but it also means that things are doing alright. How you doing? Irie, mon. Marley found the perfect blend of ire and irie.

Many of his songs--"Babylon System," "Get Up Stand Up," "War," "Rat Race"--are filled with incendiary lyrics. Just Google them, you'll see. If you're Googling them in China, I'd be careful.

Many of today's partisan singers, on either side of the issues, miss the main point of political songwriting. Marley's most political songs are so convincing, so charming, and so righteous, they seem to have no politics at all. They draw you in with their warm grooves, and the sweet melodies make the angry lyrics go down easy. Great political songwriting shouldn't just enrage--it should enchant.

Marley's music continues to cast a spell over partisans of every stripe.

Christopher John Farley is the author of the new biography "Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley."


Essay by Author Christopher John Farley

April 18, 2006

Recently, MTV named its Ten Greatest MCs of All Time. There’s one they left out. Bob Marley.

No, Marley is not a rapper. But he should be considered a godfather of hip hop.

May 11th marks the 25th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death. He died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36. He is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He deserves to be considered a Hip Hop Hall of Famer as well.

Comment Why should the King of Reggae be ranked alongside the Princes of Hip Hop? Because rap was born in the Bronx, but it was conceived in Kingston, and Bob Marley played a part in its conception.

Turntablism has its roots on the streets of Jamaican cities. Starting in the 1950s, sound systems - traveling contraptions of speakers and turntables - competed for listeners around the island. The sound systems would have selectors or deejays who would employ witty patter over the songs they played to energize the crowd. This patter was called “toasting,” and it was considered an early version of rap.

Bob Marley came up in the sound system era. The Wailers were the greatest band to come out of the period. One of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ early songs, “Put It On,” helped popularize the use of the term “toasting.”

In fact, many of the early hip hop pioneers hail from Jamaica and the Caribbean. DJ Kool Herc was born in Jamaica, Grandmaster Flash was born in Barbados and Afrika Bambaataa has roots in Jamaica and Barbados. Voletta Wallace, mother of the Notorious B.I.G., was born on Jamaica’s North Coast. One of RUN-D.M.C.’s early tunes was titled “Roots, Rap, Reggae” - a play off of a song by Bob Marley - and pays tribute to the shared history of rap and reggae.

Today, there’s not much socially conscious mainstream hip hop. Much of top-40 rap celebrates materialism, banality or itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that sometimes. There are days and nights where you just want to dance.

But Marley had bigger vision. His music addressed the sexual, the spiritual and the social. You can groove to his music, protest to his music and make romance to his music.

Some of today’s performers get it. Damian Marley, one of Bob’s sons, scored a hit album, Welcome to Jamrock, in part by drawing on his father’s music. During the recording of her last album, Caribbean teen queen Rihanna and dancehall star Sean Paul paid a visit to the Bob Marley museum for inspiration. Bono of U2 - whose group also mixes the social and spiritual - inducted Marley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hasidic reggae-rapper, Matisyahu, aspires to the same sort of spiritual seriousness as Marley. Wyclef and Lauryn Hill have re-recorded Marley’s songs.

May 11th marks the 25th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death. Hip hop could move forward by looking back at Bob Marley’s example.

22nd May 2006 sees the re-issue of one of Aston and Carton Barrett's earliest albums.

Originally issued by Trojan on their High Note subsidiary in 1969, Reggae With The Hippy Boys caught the flavour of Skinhead Reggae at a time when the style was at its zenith. The original LP, which featured ten hard hitting, up-tempo instrumentals produced by Jamaica’s leading female record label owner, Sonia Pottinger, has long since been considered a highly prized collector’s item. Now, it is finally made available once more, albeit in very limited numbers for the newly launched Trojan Fan Club, with the original 10 tracks augmented by 15 bonus tracks of equal rarity and worth.


Nurse J’Kel
This Is It
Mad Movie
Capo (Version 1)
Foot Work
Seventh Heaven
Moon Walk Challenge
Spicy (aka Reggae Pressure)
Hippy Boys - Cat Nip
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Soul At Large
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Soul Of England
The Upsetters - What Do You Say
The Upsetters - Straight To The Head
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - African Zulu
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Confidential
The Upsetters - Oney (Happy Clap)
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Everybody Needs Love
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Stronger
The Upsetters - Mellow Mood
The Upsetters - Family Man
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Shang I (aka Shanghai)
Lloyd Charmers & Hippy Boys - Cooyah
The Upsetters - Capo (Version 2)

The messageboard at www.bobmarleymagazine.com has fast developed into the ultimate meeting place on the internet for any self respecting fan to meet and discuss all things related to Bob and the Wailers.

Thanks to a solid, and ever growing community, the exemplary work of Marco and Ivan, and of course the inspiration of Jah, it is possible for fans to discuss the music and life of Bob, Peter, Bunny and the Wailers band members, set up trades for unreleased live and demo material, and just generally meet with like minded spirits - not to mention the fantastic interviews that appear on the sites main pages .

If you haven`t registered to the forum yet, I strongly urge you to leave this page now and do so - you won`t regret it. Just don`t forget to return here once in a while!

Site compiled by Andy Clayden.

Previous Updates:

Number 37, Spring 2006     Number 36, Winter 2005

Number 35, Autumn 2005     Number 34, Summer 2005

Number 33, Spring 2005     Number 32, October/December 2004

Number 31, August/September 2004     Number 30, May 2004

Number 29, April 2004     Number 28, January 2004

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