Like Bob Marley, Carly Barrett has no equal as a reggae musician: the level of sophistication of his writing, playing, and arranging is unparalleled. Carlton is the alpha & omega of reggae drumming, and one could devote years to emulating his brilliance.
______________________________________________________________________________________ For logistical reasons, Bob Marley and the Wailers rented gear for live and studio use for most of their career. Therefore, there is much variation in Carly's equipment, other than professional quality gear.
Carly did own a few kits over the years, and often replicated them using rental gear:
EARLY era (1970-79) : Ludwig maple/poplar LATER era (1979-1981): Yamaha birch 9000 series (x2)
Carly's personal kits were housed/used at Tuff Gong Studio, and the few shows where BMW brought their own gear.
The snare drum that Carly owned, toured with (or requested as rental) was the Ludwig 402 (aluminum alloy) 14"x6.5" This was most often used no matter what kit he played
______________________________________________________________________________________ 1976: KIT PURCHASED BY BOB & GIVEN TO CARLY: LUDWIG Olive badge, 3-ply maple/poplar/maple, reinforcement rings (natural finish)
-Bob Marley bought kit while living in Delaware (working at the Chrysler car factory). Jamaican musicians often bought equipment in the US, as it was cheaper and credit was accepted -This kit resided in Jamaica & was used in Bob's studio -This kit was destroyed in a fire at the Green Mist (nightclub), 19-A Langston Rd., Kingston [circa 1978]
1977- Exodus Tour
___________________ 22x14 Kick 14x6.5, Ludwig 402 snare (chrome plated aluminum alloy), Ambassador head 12x8, 13x9, 16x16 toms- bottom heads removed (black dot or coated ambassador heads) Zildjian hollow logo cymbals: Observing the photos, Barrett used many setups, but comparing drums vs. cymbal sizes, he often used: 14" New Beat Hihats, 14" or 16" crash over the hihat, 16"-18” crash between tom 2 and the floor tom Cowbell (on hihat rod or separate stand)
* much like this one seen Live at Rainbow Theater 1977 *(thought this is a rental kit in England)
Carly owned two Yamaha 9000 kits: yellow (used in Japan/Jamaica) cobalt blue (N. Am. touring) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. YELLOW: SURVIVAL WORLD TOUR Japan: Yamaha kindly invited BWM on a tour of their factory, & gifting each member instruments -Carly picked out a huge yellow 9000 series kit (birch recording) *(a one time gift, no ongoing support/endorsement) *** This kit ended up in Tuff Gong Studios (see 1980 rehearsal video)
Below: Live circa 1980
Madison Square Garden, September 1980
2. COBALT BLUE(look for rasta stickers on toms) -Bought at Manny's, NYC, after losing his Ludwigs in a fire in Jamaica
While maintaining his usual set up (22, 12, 13, 16, snare), Carly often changed the position of the "extra toms" (8, 10, 14?, 15?)
In this era, Yamaha had supplanted Ludwig as the dominant maker, so they were often the brand of professional rental kits used by BWM
1979- New Zealand (similar rental kit)
22” kick 402 Ludwig Snare (or Yamaha Steel, or Yamaha birch)- Ambassador head 8", 10”, 12”, 13”, 16” (& either a 14" or 15") toms bottom heads removed (black dot or ambassador heads) Zildjian hollow logo cymbals- he started using larger setups of cymbals as well: 14" hihats, crashes : 14", 16", 18", 17"(?)
*as seen in Santa Barbara 1979, below
Soundcheck, "Slave Driver" with keyboardist, Tyrone Downie playing an alternative bassline. circa 1980, below
http://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/omega-auctions/catalogue-id-srom10035/lot-26cc842d-6be0-466d-b702-a442017d4a97 Miller, Mark. (2013). On the Road with Bob Marley, Theiconicimages.com, ISBN 978-0615760964.
Miller, Mark. stage manager for BMW. 1978-1981. Interview via email, May 20, 2016.
https://issuu.com/marleyarchives/docs/carly_f137af18dbdff2 (Carly Memorial article, Music Connection Magazine, June 1987)
Carlton "Carly" Barrett has been the drummer for the late Bob Marley’s Wailers ever since Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston Wailer—the original Wailers—decided to add a permanent bass player and drummer to the band more than a decade ago. It was Carlton Barrett and his bass playing brother Aston “Family Man” Barrett, both formerly of Lee "Scratch" Perry's Upsetter band, who were chosen to fill out the Wailers. Together these five musicians formed the nucleus of what soon was to become the greatest reggae band in the history of the music form. Even after Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the group to pursue solo careers, the Wailers flourished. And it was no big secret that the driving power of the Wailers music came from its bottom, the throbbing bass riffs of Family Man and the exceptionally tight-fisted drumming of brother Carly. Since the untimely death of Bob Marley in 1981, Carly Barrett and the rest of the Wailers have kept a rather low profile. For months after Marley's passing, the group agonized over whether it should remain intact as the Wailers. The band did a brief tour of California and the enthusiastic supportive response it received from loyal fans in Los Angeles and other parts of the state convinced the Wailers to carry on. Since then the band has been working on an LP of Wailer originals which should be released in the States very soon. Called "Out of Exile," the record features some of Carly Barrett's finest moments as a drummer.
RS: Before the rise of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, you and your brother Family Man had no rivals in reggae. You two were responsible for popularizing bass/drum combinations in reggae, as well as helping bass players and drummers get the recognition they so obviously deserved.
CR: Yes dat true. y'know, Fams and I, we always had a special pattern for playing, a cool drive that everybody take notice of, ever since the earliest days of reggae. The Barretts Brother - Aston “Family Man” Barrett and Carlton Barrett: a one-two punch.
RS: You've often described your drum playing as a spiritual experience. Can you explain what you mean by that?
CB: Well, it’s a spiritual vibe that I try and get from my drums to the music. Because drums come from the slavery days and from Africa, it comes from a lot of history. The reggae drummer carries that history more than the guitarist or keyboards player, and the good reggae drummers make playing a spiritual experience.
RS: You’ve been a member of the Wailers right from the very first album the band put out, "Catch A Fire," back in 1972. Why was it that Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer quit the group just at the time the Wailers were breaking big in the State and in Europe?
CB: Well, at dat time the group was called the Wailers, not Bob Marley and the Wailers like later on, y'know? Everything was cool until some people tell Peter and Bunny to break free. Instead of sayin’ to Bob, Peter and Bunny, “You are three singing together as one," they say to Peter and Bunny to break free and be their own superstars. Dat's why the Wailers separate.
RS: I understand that Bob Marley gave his musician a free hand, so to speak, when it came to songs arrangements. Is that true?
CB: Bob never interfere with his musicians. He always leave the basic parts for his musicians to figure out. He had a lot of respect for the Wailers.
RS: What is your favorite Wailers album, or better yet, what LP best reflects your drumming?
CB: I think it Kaya.
RS: And why is that?
CB: Because Kaya have some directly emotional songs on it. Things that hurt and feel, y'know? So I got to play deep; more within.
RS: Have you ever played with any artists other than Bob?
CB: Well yes, Scratch Perry and the Upsetter band and before that the Hippy Boys in the 60’s, When I first start to play drums, I think I played some gospel records too.
RS: Is it true that the Ludwig drumkit you used to play whenever the Wailers toured was a rented kit?
CB: Yes mon, it true. Finally Bob get the Ludwig drumkit and buy it. Today it’s in the Tuft Gong studio like a shrine .The first drumset that Bob give to me was a kit he bought an Delaware when he was living there and working in the car factory. He bought it for himself, but later he give it to me as a present, yknow.
RS: What happened to it? Do you still have it?
CB: No mon, It get burned up in a fire at the Green Mist in Kingston. Dat’s when I get a new kit. Bob go to Manny's in New York City and buy me a new kit after everything cool with Island (Records).
RS: Are there any tracks from the Bob Marley and the Wailer LPs of the past that you did not play on?
CB: One record, Survival. Nobody knows this, but I'll tell you, right? One side of the LP is the Wailers, but the other side is not the Wailers.
RS: You're right. I didn't know that. What side isn't the Walters' ?
CB: Well, let me think now, [hesitation] The side with the song “Africa Unite”.
RS: Why didn't the Wailers play on that side?
CB: Well, some people try and convince Bob that he should try playin' with some new players. Y'know, to see if the Wailers are really good as everyone say. So Bob brought in some players - Mikey Boo played drums—and dey cut the tracks. But after Bob hear the results, he realize the Wailers the best reggae band in the world. [laughs]
RS: Speaking of other Jamaican drummers, it you had to nominate, say five Jamaican drummers for a reggae hall of fame, who would you choose?
CB: Boy, dat a tough one. y'know. Let me think on it…okay you got Sly Dunbar and Lloyd Nibbs. And then Hugh Malcolm and Winston Graham of Soul Vendors. And one more–Carlton Barrett. True.
RS: It’s quite difficult for drummers to get live gigs on a steady basis in Jamaica. Why is that?
CB: Because there not enough night-clubs in Jamaica. Ghetto people mostly listen to reggae and support the music. But ghetto people don't have the money to go to night clubs so the clubs close down and fold up. Most drummers don't get the chance to show their stuff live on stage unless dey join a band that tours the States and Europe.
RS: Another thing, you don't sec many music stores in Kingston. Where do you and other drummers get your equipment?
CB: Most of the drummers get their equipment in the Stats when they go on tour there. Youths get drums if they're lucky from relatives and friends in New York or Miami or someplace else in the States. A drumkit is very very expansive to buy in Jamaica plus you have to pay cash, mon. No monthly payments or credit like in the States. Pay it all in cash.
RS: You once told me Ludwig and Rogers were the drumkits you preferred to play. But you're playing Yamaha drums. Why the change?
CB: I have been touring Europe for years and the Ludwig company never offered me any drums for an endorsement agreement. But the first time the Wailers go to Japan, the Yamaha people want me to endorse their drums. So they give me a kit since the Wailers was the top reggae group in Japan. I cannot turn down an offer like that!