Bob Andy remembers an afternoon with The Wailers at Studio One
© 1999 Keith Anderson

From as far back as the 60s, the Wailers were feared as much as they were admired. They were a very strict bunch of guys - always had screwfaces. They would keep anyone away from them with just a look. They didn't accommodate anyone. The Paragons liked and admired them, but were sort of scared of those looks, which protected them from any kind of intrusion or invasion of their privacy.
They would mix because they were bredren, but they also had a very elitist attitude. They were popular with "Simmer Down," and the song that Junior Braithwaite led, "It Hurts To Be Alone, " but they really made it when they sang "Rude Boy Ska". It was a monster success for Coxsone - it could have sold a hundred thousand copies. Jukeboxes used to order thousands of records in those days.
I was one of those artists who used to be able to hang with the Wailers. We never spoke much, but there was a mutual respect. In those days at Studio One I was into smoking herb very hard... well, as much as anyone in those days.
There was a room where we used to listen to records - Coxsone would give artists music to listen to on the turntable and speakers. But there was another room between Coxsone's inner office and the music room - Wailers had access to that: you could go and lock yourself in there and no one else could enter... I had access too.
This particular day I was the witness to a very special performance. It was like being let into a secret. I was very high from smoking, and they were always high too. It was the first time I had seen each of the Wailers with a guitar - each time I remember this, it's like remembering a dream. I sat there, and they were just messing around with various songs for awhile, but finally it climaxed with a song called "Ten to One," which I later found out was a Curtis Mayfield song. I realised how much The Impressions had influenced Marley in those times - they were both trios, and Curtis played guitar too.
Bob sang the first line, then Bunny came in second singing, and all three came in on the next line... Peter sang a line, then all three sang in harmony, then Bob and Bunny solo again...
When they started that song, I saw a side of the Wailers that I felt no one else had seen - it was like my personal revelation. I've never heard music so beautiful and I've never seen such love and camaraderie in this life. I knew then that the Wailers were special people. But they were special by being The Wailers, as a unit.
When I reflect on that occasion, it was divine. Those three brothers sang that song that day with such gentleness, perfection, sensitivity, egolessness. It was like being on a spaceship, listening to the music of the spheres. I was spellbound - it was like they were singing and I was being absorbed into that brotherhood. That memory has stayed with me and will stay with me forever. The screwfaces were gone, and in their place was endless, priceless love. The aggression was gone - we had all left our material beings.
I heard the Impressions version afterward, and it's great, but what the Wailers did that day was something else.