Book Club – BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS: The Ultimate History

For fans of the greatest reggae artist in history, this book tells the story in words and images.

Even before Legend was the ubiquitous ‘best-of’ album that EVERY Gen Xer owned and spun, reggae was introduced to me at a young age. Growing up in Toronto, a city whose Jamaican population skyrocketed in the 1950s and 1960s, the reggae scene was vibrant thanks to popular local bands and artists such as Messenjah, Leroy Sibbles, The Sattalites, Fujahtive, and Tabarruk. Enormously influential Studio One house bandleader and keyboardist, Jackie Mittoo began calling Toronto home in 1969 yet continued to perform, record, and produce artists in Jamaica and abroad. My connection and early start loving reggae music began when my father created the cover art for Horace Faith’s album, Fly High Anansi. All this to say, I love reggae music and one of my SiriusXM presets is Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Radio. An amazing new book helps us diehards dig a bit deeper.  Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Ultimate Illustrated History, by Richie Unterberger, published by Quarto Books offers a unique look into this legendary artist’s life and work.

Broken out over the years of Marley’s life, the first chapter provides a quick Jamaican history lesson to better understand the culture and society Nesta Robert Marley grew up within. Raised on the radio in Kingston’s large Trench Town ghetto, Bob was inspired by the black American doo-wop groups that dominated the airwaves. Along with his young friends Neville Livingston and Winston McIntosh, known globally hereafter as Bunny and Peter Tosh, respectively, Bob was inspired to form a group of his own. Combining this new, exciting music, R&B, rock, and roll with Jamaican influences, the trio was at the forefront of the beginnings of ska music. Next, the Studio One years are mapped out as the Wailers began producing music at the famous studio including their hit, Simmer Down. Next, we find Bob Marley as he finds the spiritual path of Rastafarianism, which eventually pairs him with top Jamaican producer, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and by the 1970s, the development of roots reggae. The story breaks for an intermission as Unterberger begins to chronicle the artist’s albums by handing over the reins to music journalists such as Pat Gilbert, Garth Cartwright, and Chris Salewicz, among others. Without repeating the entirety of Marley’s fascinating life and story, sadly he passed away on May 11, 1981. What cancer could never kill was the important legacy Bob Marley created.

Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Ultimate Illustrated History shows the life and output of an ineclipsible artist who bridged race in his country and globally through the messages of love and peace in his words and music. A beautiful volume that tells an important tale, Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Ultimate Illustrated History does so with many brilliant photos and concise text by Richie Unterberger and a host of contributors. Early photos of Marley, his friends, and family as well as gorgeous live music photos make this book one devotees will come back to. A must-read for any Bob Marley fan but equally engaging for music fans alike, readers can find this book here.

Aron Harris
Aron Harris is ADDICTED Magazine's music editor as well as a contributor. As a graphic designer, writer and photographer, you can find his work all over ADDICTED. He also geeks out over watches, pizza, bass guitars and the Grateful Dead.