A short feature based on the news that The Wailers are touring this year. I looked in to other bands that have continued without their most prominant members....
This week sees reggae superstars The Wailers begin the UK leg of their latest tour. Only bass player Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett survives from the early ‘70s Wailers line-up, but this is not an unusual trend. When groups lose key components, the remaining personnel must decide whether to keep the name (and music) alive. Often audience interest wanes when high profile members are absent.
So is it possible for these continuing bands to remain relevant, or are they in danger of becoming their own tribute acts? In the case of The Wailers, it appears that the former is true. “They put on a great show, with occasional new material,” long-time fan Sian Caulfield explains. “It shouldn’t be considered a bad thing that they wish to keep the Marley name alive.” One of the group’s recent front men, Elan Atias, reinforced this in an interview with State Magazine. “I’m just trying to keep the message going…the most intimidating thing wasn’t ‘replacing Bob’, it was making sure I had all the lyrics”.
Others have thrived after forming new projects, such as Foo Fighters. Martin James is author of ‘Dave Grohl – Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Other Misadventures’ (2004). “At first the success of the Foos was linked to Nirvana, but as they went on people embraced them for what they do. It helps that Grohl is the hardest working man in rock!” he explains.
So the jury’s out. However, one thing is for sure. Due to the band’s evergreen appeal, those lucky enough to catch The Wailers live show won’t be worrying about the absence of Marley, Tosh, or Livingston.