The Al Anderson Interview: Part 2

A World-A-Reggae/Midnight Raver Exclusive

Please CLICK HERE to read Part 1 of the interview.

(AA) “Wire did so much for ‘Catch A Fire’ and ‘Burnin’.’ But he wasn’t on ‘Natty Dread.’ On ‘Natty Dread’ that was Bernard Harvey and Tyrone (Downie) playing organ on that.”

“So Bob makes his journey, the band is looking for a new singer/songwriter and Junior Marvin wanted to be the one.”

(WAR) “I always dug your style. You layed back in the shadows and did your thing. Junior was always up front.”

(AA) “He’s that type of guy.”

(WAR) “Did Bob want that? Did he like that?”

(AA) “Personally, I thought it was a competition because one guy wanted to be as popular as the front man. And another guy would say “What’s wrong with this guy? Why can’t he just lay back and play guitar and get in where you fit in? But Junior Marvin studied drama and acting, and he had his own bands, and I think he was probably older than Bob. If I’m not mistaken he’s either the same age as Bob or older. He wanted it. I mean, that’s just his style. As soon as Bob made his journey, he stepped up and said ‘I’m going to put on these shoes, and this jacket, and I’m going to go out and be [the guy].’ And we went along with it for a while.”

(WAR) “You guys made some great music too.”

(AA)I don’t think so. I don’t think so. On the first album ‘I.D.’ I was like ‘we went from…'”

(WAR) “Come on, ‘Have Faith in Jah’…”

(AA) “It’s not for me. When you do a record and someone takes all the royalties from your record…”

(WAR) “Who took your royalties?”

(AA) “I don’t want to get into it. I don’t want to mention any names. We never got paid for it. We didn’t get one dollar. Not one dollar. So we became a tribute to ourselves. I wasn’t having it. That’s not where I come from. My background is this: learn some songs, go into the studio, knock out some songs, go on the road, represent them.”

(WAR) “You were trained at Berklee, right?”

(AA) “Yes I went there for free. There was an 8 month period where a friend of mine was going to Berklee. I moved up there and got a job. This was the early 70s and I was working with Aerosmith at the time. So before I went to Berklee I was working with Aerosmith and this guy said ‘I know of these ear training classes you can get into with Major Holley for free.'”

“So I said ‘How long?’ He said ‘probably for a year.’ They hadn’t established a system yet to check I.D.’s, this was the early days when Berklee was just getting into the system. There was Pat Metheney, Mick Goodrick, Al Di Meola. We had cats like Herbie Hancock. I wanted to be involved in that. So I went to these ear training classes for like 8 months and that was my Berklee education. I never graduated from Berklee. I never even went for a year. I got free training just by going to the seminars and classes until they asked for I.D.”

“But getting back to the point I’m making about ‘The Original Wailers.’ We became a tribute to ourselves with one individual up front. So I’m like ‘It’s not working for me.’ One individual, we don’t need to mention his name, I think he wanted to be Bob all his life. That’s the sad part about it. Again, I’m not trying to be the bad guy, but this was the reality of things and it just wasn’t working for me.”

(WAR) “Was he a jealous guy?”

(AA) “I don’t know if he was jealous, but he was very brave. I couldn’t drink that amount of gas to go that fast on a guy’s stage.”

(WAR) “You’re talking one of the greatest performers in the world…”

(AA) “It was confusing. We, the I-Three, everybody in the band was like ‘What is going on here?’

(WAR) “So it was something you guys noticed right?”

(AA) “We didn’t like it. So we dealt with it for a real long time and then I was like…you know, one of the main reasons I left wasn’t because of that, because he wasn’t in the band at that time. It was because of Don Taylor stealing all of Bob’s money, taking all his merchandise, counting all these ticket stubs in Australia and New Zealand where we played for 60,000 or 80,000 people and coming up short for the group.”

 (WAR) “Was Bob aware of this? Because there is a rumor that there was a scuffle in Africa in 1980.”

 (AA) “That’s all true. Bob was all about getting his music across to the people and performing. He didn’t care about the money. He was going to make his money off the publishing. Ticket money was all about ‘I have to play for these people so they can understand me,’ and so that is what we defended.”

“So then it became all about who’s going to be the next Bob Marley and Rita said it’s got to be Ziggy (Marley). Bob told me he wanted all his kids to go to school and be record executives for his record company. To manage us. But they decided to put the Melody Makers together instead. I made a statement that maybe I shouldn’t have, and I think Ziggy and maybe somebody else got angry because I thought he was too young and he should go to school and get an education like his father said. Their Dad wanted his kids to go to school, go to college, and be record execs for his record company. That’s what Bob told me. Whether anybody wants to believe it or not…that’s their problem.”

(WAR) “Because everything was the Wailers? It was all supposed to be about the Wailers…”

(AA) “It was all about the Wailers, that’s what we believed. Island records made me believe it was all about Familyman, and Carly, and Tyrone, and then that was all a lie. It was Chris Blackwell’s scheme to psychologically…because that’s what he’s good at: business and psychology. So he psyched all these guys-his Jamaican friends that, ‘Oh I’m going to see you guys through for the rest of your lives. Just keep doing like, ‘Legend,’ and we’re going to keep bootlegging all these albums and make millions of dollars off you guys.’”

 (WAR) “It’s awful..”

(AA) “We never got a dollar when they made millions.”

(WAR) “You never got any money from ‘Legend?'”

(AA) “We never got anything. And they still owe me $10,000 because I never got paid for the tour.”

(WAR) “What tour?”

(AA) “The ‘Legend’ tour, I never got paid for the second half of it.”

“Back to the name, back to the name. Now we have a frontman, we’re a tribute to ourself. The ‘I.D.’ album never came off the shelf. No one bought I.D., no one.”

(WAR) “I bought it.”

(AA) “Yeah, like 10-20 people. Now we know the songwriting is weak. Production was terrible on that record. It was engineered well. Terrible production when compared with ‘Exodus,’ ‘Uprising…’

“Familyman meets this groupie…”

(WAR) “This the woman from Baltimore?”

(AA) “She’s fucking out of her mind. She decided she was going to get a cash cow to work for her, cut the cow into steaks, you know, use every limb and organ to devour on her own…”

“And she did so. And he followed through with her. They had 7 children. She’s counting my merchandise money. She’s counting my…”

(WAR) “To this day?”

(AA) “Not me. I got my own thing now. With those guys. She’s got like more than 100% control over that group.”

(WAR) “Still?”

(AA) “Yeah, they got stupid administration telling me that I can’t…you know their manager calls me and tells me that, constantly tries to sue me, telling me that I don’t have the right to use the name, but that she does and it belongs to her and whatever.”

“So the issue came down to…OK, I was on the road with Familyman and her for like 12 years.”

(WAR) “Did you ever get along with Familyman? Or was this like a constant thing?”

(AA) “Man, I…This is a guy I’ve known for 10 years, in the studio, on tour. I never even got in an argument with him. But if I did a 6-month tour, there would be like 6 salaries missing, and that went on for like 12 years. She took our merchandise. She deducted money from our salaries for herself because she was controlling our money.”

(WAR) “Now what time period are we talking? Late 80s through the 90s?”

(AA) “Straight through until even now. Nothing’s changed. This woman counts The Wailers’ money, but she’s not going to count ‘The Original Wailers’ money because the ‘Original’ title is going to go back to the ‘Original’ people. I incorporated ‘The Original Wailers’ because she incorporated ‘The Wailers’ name and she was going to fire me because she owed me money. She always owed me money and could never keep a salary base solid.”

(WAR) “She wasn’t a music manager right? Did she have a background in this?”

(AA) “No. I mean, she took guys like Third World to Africa and almost ruined their careers. She was just a broom-riding witch who decided there’s a cash cow here, I’m going to take advantage of it…”

(WAR) “How did she get involved though?”

(AA) “After 7 kids you’re involved. You’re financially involved.”

(WAR) “No, he’s involved.”

(AA) “But that was his problem. We didn’t care who he was married to. It was all about the band and the music. It had nothing to do with money, and records, and merchandising and stuff. The Wailers were about going into the studio, making that solid music that everybody loved, and that’s what we lived off of. Then Familyman was hypnotized by something.”

(WAR) “But you guys weren’t. How did she move in?”

(AA) “She’s, she’s, you know, a groupie and groupies can do whatever they want. Look at the groupie line that the Stones have. All the iconic people in the world. The groupies have children and they own all the real estate now. But that was his problem. It had nothing to do wih me. But she could not count my money and count my merchandise money. I decided that wasn’t going to be my life. I departed, I formed ‘The Original Wailers,’ because I wanted to give back to Bunny, Familyman, Tyrone, Wire, Carly, Seeco, that was the whole issue. I thought ‘The Original Wailers’ was better than The Wailers.”

“The Wailers was any Wailers, The Original Wailers was Bunny, Marcia, Judy, Rita, Wire, Familyman, Carly Tyrone, Me.  That’s The Original Wailers as far as I’m concerned.  I don’t care what anybody else has to say.  I lived it.  I was there.  I slept on the floor for a year until they released Natty Dread.  Chris Blackwell….see I slept on Bull Bay Beach because there was…”

(WAR) “You came from London right?”

 (AA) “I flew from London…”

(WAR) “Weren’t you working with Traffic at the time?”

(AA) “I was working with Traffic on Aiye-Keta with Remi Kabaka.  I met Chris (Blackwell) through Richard Branson.  I worked for Richard Branson first.  Now when I worked with Richard Branson it was totally together.  It was Richard Branson and Simon Draper.  Those guys handled me like a king.  They gave me my royalties, they gave me everything.  I had nothing to say about Draper and Branson, but when I went to Island there was this whole other psychoilogical thing going on.  There was a slave master who had a whole bunch of slaves, you know, Third World, Inner Circle, Aswad.  He had all these musicians and songwriters…”

(WAR) “And he sent you to work on the plantation type deal…”

(AA)And he didn’t give us our 40 acres and a mule, and that’s what we were promised.  And it was a continual promise of that.  So I decided to call our group ‘THE Original Wailers’ to give it back to who it rightfully belongs to.  If it’s Bunny Wailer…”

(WAR) “That’s admirable.”

(AA) “But that name does not belong to some bitch who’s trying to count all of our money.  That’s out.  That’s not going to happen anymore.  She’ll never count my money again.  And that’s what she’s doing with The Wailers.  She’s counting their money, garnishing their wages, taking all their merchandise, videos, and everything, and putting it in her pocket, living in million dollar real estate and buying a lot of expensive jewelry and I’m not going to aid and abet to that.”

(WAR) “Is he still with her?”

(AA)I have no idea and I don’t care.  I’m more interested in Aston as a bass player.  His family and his friends are for him.  His business structure is for him.  I have nothing to do with that.  The only thing I want out of him is to get the band back together so people can realize who he is, who his brother was, and by the way, ‘Miracle’ was dedicated to Carlton Barrett.  The whole album is dedicated to him, the world’s greatest drummer.  The world’s greatest drummer who was assassinated for his royalties, by his wife.  That’s a whole other story.” 

“I’m going to get back to the issue of who this belongs to.  It belongs to any musician who put in that 10 year decade of hard work that it took to put Bob at the top of the food chain.  We are not doing this for money.  We are not making any money here.  When people come see us play, they go buy ‘Blackheart Man, they go buy ‘Catch A Fire’ and ‘Burnin’’, they go buy ‘Natty Dread.’  These are the records we are playing live.”

(WAR) “So you guys are playing Wailers stuff?”

(AA)We’re playing original stuff.  We brought on a songwriter like Desi Hyson who brings a whole new electricity…”

(WAR) “Well, let me just say about the album…”

(AA) “But I’m not finished with The Wailers thing.  It just became a cash cow for somebody to divide and psychologically separate musicians from what they were rightfully meant to do, which was represent Bob Marley.  Now we’re representing some woman who wants to count and garnish our wages.”

“For decades…Bob’s been dead for 35 years, and the whole time people are trying to take The Wailers and go somewhere with it.  She, for one, knows nothing about reggae music.  She doesn’t even like Bob Marley’s music.  That’s a statement she’s made to me right in my face.  She says ‘I don’t listen to Bob Marley’s music,’  So I said, ‘Well what the hell are you doing with this whole movement then?’  She said ‘It’s all about money for me,’ and she told me to sue her because she’s not going to pay me what she owes me.  Rather than sue her, I went out and put this whole ‘Original Wailers’ thing together and that’s what I’m doing.  Selling the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers from the past to the present, and at the same time playing and producing my own music.  I think it’s a great marriage for me and we are only representing those iconic figures.  And it’s not just about Peter, Bob, and Bunny.  It’s about all the musicians.  It’s about Ronnie, and Reggie, and Freitas, and Winston Wright, you know, Tyrone Downie, Earl ‘Wire’ Lindo, Carlton Barrett, Aston Barrett, it’s all about these musicians who made these songwriters.  That’s who I defend.  And to hell with whoever doesn’t agree with me.” 

“Now ‘The Original Wailers’, The Wailers, Bunny Wailer, the I-Three, we all need to come together.  What’s wrong with getting everybody together and having Bunny up front?  Have all those musicians back together.  What’s wrong with that?”

(WAR) “Nothing.”

(AA) “Nobody wants to defend that.  But would Clear Channel and Live Nation get behind that?  One million percent.  People don’t want to see that.  They want to see us fighting.  They want to see us talk bad about ourselves.  I’m not doing that.  ‘Miracle’ is all about the upliftment of reggae music.  Reggae has taken a wicked beating since we lost Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Bob, Peter…whole bunch of guys that passed.  These are endangered species, we have to keep their memory alive.”

(WAR) “So you’re on a mission here.  You’re not just out here touring and playing.”

(AA) “It’s about uplifting The Wailers so people know what Bunny Wailer is about.  Let’s honor the musicians that made Bob, Peter, and Bunny the crown winners.  People who spent decades of their lives sleeping on the floor so they could succeed.  Let’s give them something.  Let’s leave something for their children.  But there’s  too many people who don’t want to see it happen.  Everybody wants another Bob Marley.  It will never happen.  You can try your whole life, it will never happen.” 

“The mission I’m on is getting the original band back together.  But we’re getting a huge fight.” 

(WAR) “What do you mean you’re getting a huge fight?  From who?  I mean is Familyman on board with that?”

(AA) “Uhhh, I believe he would be.  It makes sense to put Bob Marley’s band back together.”

(WAR) “What about Rita?”

(AA) “We’re going to sell records for her.  We’re going to sell records for Island.  We’re going to sell records for the estate.  We’re going to sell so many records.”

(WAR) “So this would be a Tuff Gong venture? Or Island?”

(AA) “Tuff Gong.  Island has nothing to do with this.  I sland couldn’t have anything to do with this because he hasn’t given us a penny, nothing, since Bob’s journey.  Nothing.  Not a dollar.  This has to be disclosed.  The plantation and the evil slave mentality of all these years these Jamaican musicians never got their royalties from Europe.  There’s this lawyer, Andre Bertrand, what he did was groundbreaking.  He sent royalties to people who never got a royalty check.”

“Bob, Rita, Marcia, Judy, Tyrone, Wire, Carly, Aston, these are the jewels.  People need to know what songs they wrote, what songs they performed, what songs they produced.”

Please stay tuned for Part 3 of the Al Anderson interview where Al discusses ‘Miracle’, executive producing, and plans for the future.


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