The Al Anderson Interview: Part 3

A World-A-Reggae/Midnight Raver Exclusive

Click HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2

(AA) “OK after ‘Catch A Fire’ and ‘Burnin’’ was ‘Natty Dread.’  Let’s look from Natty Dread forward, I defend that.  I didn’t have anything to do with ‘Catch A Fire’ and ‘Burnin.’’   I slept on the floor for a year until it was distributed.  And after it was distributed, 5 songs went to number one that I played on.  I became the session cat to play with in England.  Then they sent me to Jamaica and it was all downhill from there in terms of progress and success.  There was no success.  We had a number one album in England and we couldn’t even get arrested…we did get arrested.”

(WAR) “Did you enjoy this time in your life?”

(AA) “I would never look back on it.  I learned the language, I got the most incredible food, I was the fittest ever.  The Jamaicans did way more for me than the black Americans did.  Hands down.  Hands down.  I learned more spirituality from them, more levity, how to live.  Look at Jamaica compared to America’s concrete jungle, come on man, I mean it’s paradise there.  I got more out of living there than I did living in my homeland.  That’s why I patronize this music.  There’s some rotten elements, but on the other side of that they’re some of the most beautiful people I ever met.  That’s why I’m on a journey to bring it back – rocksteady – to the place it’s supposed to be.  I’m not the only one either.  There’s a bunch of musicians.   There’s a whole bunch of white reggae artists that are doing the same thing too.  We are all united about keeping reggae music alive.  Guys like Gentleman, SOJA, Movement, you know, B-Side Players, there’s a bunch of white reggae acts…”

(WAR) “American reggae acts are making a surge right now.”

(AA) “They are.  But where did they get it from?  They got it from The Wailers, and a whole bunch of other elements.” 

(WAR) “There’s just too much in-fighting.  The Rita-Familyman lawsuit, there’s so much bitterness.”

(AA) “OK the issue was this.  There was Bob, Carly, and Familyman.  They were the producers after Peter and Bunny left.  They didn’t want to give him any money.  He had to go to court with a woman who is taking his wages now.  He made a big mistake.  You don’t sue anybody in England, you sue them in France with Andre Bertrand, and you win.  She didn’t want to share the success of them winning in England with anybody so they couldn’t win.  There’s no way you can win.   The Lord of the court knew what her intentions were because the whole time she was there for a month of the lawsuit she was scribbling on a piece of paper and not even looking at the judge and convincing who was the most viable man to receive any awards.  His explanation was a disaster.  He couldn’t even talk to the Lord on the level of the Marley’s and Chris Blackwell’s representation.  Chris went to court and said, ‘I don’t remember anything.  I don’t remember.  Did you give them royalties?  I don’t remember.  Tours?  I don’t remember.  I had bands like U2 and Grace Jones…all these other successful acts like Robert Palmer.  I don’t know what Bob was doing.’”

“He’s full of shit.  He went to court and told The Wailers that he didn’t remember to pay us.  Now this lady with Familyman who is in court has no explanation whatsoever for what they are doing there to sue the Marleys for $160 million.  How can you go to court knowing, and after we had already written off all our rights to the Marleys…?”

“My signature was forged, from the beginning.  That’s a whole other bag of shit.”

(WAR) “Right.”

(AA) “The issue is she didn’t know what to say to convince Aston to win a court case.  She was just like, ‘we’re going to win because my Dad is a businessman and, you know, he told me that this was convoluted and this was slavery mentality.’  England has always dealt with slavery, you know?  They owned Jamaica for many years, and now Jamaica has its independence.  We wanted to be independent from all these people, make our music, and give it to whoever we wanted to.  That’s why Stevie Wonder came in, was trying to introduce Bob to Berry Gordy.  Michael Jackson came in, was going to introduce him to Quincy Jones and Walter Yetnikoff at CBS, where they were going to offer Bob major figures.  But here comes…We were surrounded by spies and murderous type people.” 

(WAR) “This was when you first came on board in ’74, right?”

(AA) “’75”

(WAR) “Jackson and Stevie Wonder, that was ’75.”

(AA)” That was later, ’76.”

(WAR) “Alright, so you say there were spies all around you?”

(AA) “They were sent from Island, they were sent from all over the place.  Any place that had something to do with Bob, they were everywhere.  There were groupies, spies, supposed managers, publicists, all confusing the issue.  But see he knew where he was going, he never strayed.  He stayed in gear and kept driving.  He did all the tours.  He never missed a gig.”

(WAR) “Even when he was so sick.”

(AA) “Man, never missed a gig.”

(WAR) “And those were some of his strongest shows, you know?”

(AA) “Dude, you had to be on stage with him and see how he was suffering.  Sometimes he would hold his head, and, you know when he stretches his hand out? He was feeling the worst at those times.”

“Of course, his family is going to want to embrace their father’s success.  Of course, Island is going to want to count all the money.  Of course, Universal doesn’t want to pay anybody.  They don’t want to pay The Wailers.  Man, that’s the last cats that are going to get paid.  We’re not in-fighting, we’re not fighting with anybody.  We just want to continue Bob’s mission, the way he wanted it.  The way he told me he wanted it.  And it’s not about 15 different impersonators, impersonating him, impersonating his music.”

(WAR) “What is ‘Miracle’?  What’s the miracle? 

(AA) That we are still alive.  Familyman’s alive.  Marcia and Judy, they didn’t get shot.  Rita got shot, but lived.  We’ve been threatened.  We’re still here.  That’s the miracle.  It’s a miracle that we’re still alive.  It’s a miracle that this album was made and dedicated to Carlton Barrett, the world’s greatest drummer, who was shot by his wife over his royalties.  He never got a dollar.  His children don’t have any money.  Familyman’s got 50 kids, and they don’t have any money.”

“I represent them.  Whatever they want to believe, I worship them.  I look up to these cats.  I don’t look down on anyone.”

(WAR) “Talk about Desi (Hyson).  How did you guys meet?  How did he get involved?”

(AA) “I did Desi’s first solo album with a guy named Lenny Shillingfirth from Rocket.  Lenny was an amazing brother of mine and I was in competition with Desi’s band Moja Nya.  There was Munakas (sp.), Earl Moore, Desi had Moja Nya, and I was playing with a band called Full Hand.  Out on Long Island at this place called My Father’s Place there was a bunch of shows, big reggae scene.”

(WAR) “When was this?”

(AA) “Wow, when was this?  This was like mid-70s, when I wasn’t playing with Bob I would play with a band called Full Hand.”

(WAR) “I didn’t know that.”

(AA) “Yeah, there was Mojo Nya, Munakas, and Full Hand.  Everybody had great musicians, and great music, it was a great time.”

(WAR) “Yeah, My Father’s Place.  That was a classic, classic venue.”

(AA) “Yeah, Eppy Epstein, you know.  This was a great time.  This is when I introduced Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger to Peter Tosh, because Peter was there and he didn’t know who they were.  After I introduced them, it was a done deal.”

(WAR) “History.”

(AA) “These are the days that I worship most because it was productive and things started to happen.  So Desi was working on his first album with Karl Pitterson and Karl asked me to come in and play some slide guitar.  I said, ‘For who?’  He said, ‘Desi.’ I was like, I know Desi. And so we needed a lead singer and he just came out of nowhere like bam.“

(WAR) “What was he doing at the time?”

(AA) “He was doing his own thing.  I was doing stuff with Lauren Hill, and Ben Harper…Look, I just want to play music.  I’ve been playing guitar since I’m 17 years old.  And I played with some really weird people.  I’m not rich, and I’ll never be rich.  I’m 58 years old.  The money has passed me by already.  It’s all about the music for me.”

(WAR) “Do you still enjoy it?”

(AA) “Man, look at me.  It’s what I do.  I can’t do anything else.  It’s all about music, it’s all about playing the guitar.  I’ve got 2 kids to feed.”

“Notice I’ve never strayed from reggae music.  Lauren (Hill) moved to reggae music, Ben (Harper) moved to reggae music.  All the people I play with are doing reggae music.”

(WAR) “Erica Newell.”

(AA) “She’s super.”

(WAR) “’Our Day Will Come’ off the new album, how did that come about?”

(AA) “I called Erica and I said ‘I got a song for you.  I didn’t write it, but I think it’s going to suit you.’  It’s a song that my mother and father used to love. ’  She just kills it.”

(WAR) “Now she toured with you as The Wailers.  Are there any plans to get her back on tour with you guys.”

(AA) “Erica, oh yeah.  She’s a business woman, a professional, and she is in demand.  If she isn’t busy she’ll give me a call and say ‘Hey I need something.’  When that happens, I’m elated.  She has an open invitation.  She’s another person who understands me musically.  Work with anyone, and have fun, and that’s where it’s at.”

“Go to the website to get the album.  There’s 2 free songs and you can download the album.”

(WAR) “Thanks Al.  Have a great show.”

(AL) “Thanks, man.”


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