Reggae icon Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett dies aged 77

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Aston Barrett continued to perform with The Wailers into the 2010s© Getty Images

Aston Barrett, the bassist of the legendary reggae band Bob Marley and the Wailers, has died at the age of 77.

“Family Man”, as he was known, was born in 1946 and grew up in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

Announcing the death, his family said Barrett had been through a “long medical battle” but gave no details.

He was a key figure in the growth of reggae. He played on nearly all the Wailers albums as well as for Burning Spear, Peter Tosh and many other acts.

In a social media post on Saturday, Barrett’s son Aston Barrett Jr said: “With the heaviest of hearts, we share the news of the passing of our beloved Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett after a long medical battle.”

Aston Barret first gained fame as a member of the Upsetters, the backing band of reggae pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

He joined Bob Marley’s band in 1974.

His bass work is a key feature of many Wailers hits, including I Shot the Sheriff, Get Up Stand Up, Stir It Up, Jamming, No Woman, No Cry and Could You Be Love.

“The drum, it is the heartbeat, and the bass, it is the backbone,” Barrett once said. “If the bass is not right, the music is gonna have a bad back, so it would be crippled.”

Bob Marley died from cancer at the age of 36 in 1981. The Wailers continued to perform, with numerous line-up changes and various singers filling Marley’s shoes.

Barrett told the BBC in 2013 that he had fathered 23 daughters and 18 sons. “I am the family man,” he said. “I’m gifted with 41 [children].”


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