In 1963, Jamaicans Neville O’Riley Livingston, Peter McIntosh, and Nesta Robert Marley — jacked on weed and American pop by the likes of Ray Charles and Fats Domino — formed a group of their own. They rehearsed at a public-housing development in Trenchtown, says a New York Times reporter, that had a kitchen called the Casbah. The kitchen was operated by Vincent Ford, who would cowrite songs with the band that would eventually become the Wailers. There were name changes all around: Neville Livingston was now Bunny Wailer, McIntosh changed his name to Peter Tosh, and Nesta Robert became Bob Marley.
Under the guidance of producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Wailers had a spellbinding release in 1970 called Soul Rebels. But they became international stars only after Eric Clapton covered “I Shot the Sheriff.” For whatever reason, the Wailers broke up soon after and Marley reemerged as Bob Marley and the Wailers with a new crew. Marley and his new Wailers released 11 albums before his death, and they are the architects of reggae as we know it today. In 1999, Time magazine called 1977’s Exodus the Best Album of the Century.
Today, one almost needs a scorecard to keep track of the bands with the word Wailers in their name. Remember, the first Wailers was a band that Bob Marley was in. The second Wailers were launched in 1974 to back Marley. The Original Wailers were formed in 2008 and include two members of the second Wailers band — Al Anderson and Junior Marvin. And there is an American garage band from the 1960s called the Wailers, but aside from a few revival shows they haven’t done much since they cut a cover of “Louie Louie” in 1961.
Psydecar also performs.
ORIGINAL WAILERS: House of Blues, Saturday, June 19, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583.