About the Wailers Timeline
This timeline covers the recording career of the original Wailers, the core trio of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer.
- Only songs that Bob, Peter, Bunny, or Junior Braithwaite sing lead on are listed in the "Recording sessions" section.
- Instrumentals (not versions or dubs, but A-side instrumental releases) are also listed if one or more of the Wailers played on the song.
- The group sang harmonies on several sessions for other artists in the 1960s, those sessions are not listed here.
- Rita sang a few lead vocals, but they aren't included here (because they were typically released under the Soulettes group name).
- Songs are only listed once per session, though several takes were always recorded. If the same song was recorded in multiple sessions, the title is repeated in each session.
- Demo sessions not intended for release are listed in the "Events and notes" section.
- The artist name below the song title is the name written on the session material (usually tape boxes) or the name on the first single release. So when you see something like "Whalers," that just means whoever wrote the session notes wasn't familiar with the group. Also the Jamaican record label printers were notorious for introducing typos and phonetic spellings.
- It is widely believed that Chris Blackwell started the practice of crediting releases to "Bob Marley and The Wailers," rather than simply "The Wailers." But as the recording credits show, the practice started almost a decade earlier, in 1964. And in fact, it was Peter, not Bob, who first had their name on a Wailers record. In mid-1964 "Amen" was credited to "Peter Touch & The Wailers." About a month later, "Where Will I Find" was credited to "Bob Marley And The Wailers." A little more than a third of the Wailers sessions were credited to the Wailers alone. The other two-thirds of the credits include the name of one of the Wailers (sometimes along with "and The Wailers," sometimes not).
- The "Releases" section primarily lists the Jamaican 45s (Island releases are also listed in 1973 and 1974). Other artists are sometimes listed here along with the Wailers because many times producers would pair two groups on one single. When albums are listed, their titles are in italics and outlined. Most titles were released on singles several times, often with different B sides. We list only the first appearance of each song. Apparent misspellings are taken from the labels of the singles.
- When the reissues section lists a "best sounding" version, that's strictly my opinion. I have compared all available reissue versions of each song, but that doesn't mean your best and my best won't be different. Music is subjective, right? The "buy/hear this song" links that lead to Amazon are affiliate links, meaning I may receive a fee if you decide to buy.
- Any live shows listed in "Events and notes" are there for context, they aren't intended to be a comprehensive list of all Wailer's shows. The Wailers played many shows in Jamaica at venues of all sizes.
Some statistics from the database
- 129 different musicians played 25 different instruments during the sessions.
- The musician who played on the most sessions (aside from Bob, Bunny, and Peter) was drummer Carlton "Carly" Barrett, who played on 95 sessions (32%). Bassist Lloyd Brevett comes in second, having played on 80 sessions (27%). (Though it's worth noting that Carly and Lloyd Brevett never played on a Wailers session together.)
- Peter Tosh played the largest number of different instruments on the sessions, at nine (guitar, piano, keyboards, organ, melodica, xylophone, clavinet, harmonica, and percussion). Bunny comes in second playing seven different instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano, percussion, funde drum, repeater drum, and jaw harp).
- The Wailers worked with 11 different producers (and produced themselves). The producer they worked with on the most sessions was Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, with 89 sessions (30%). Coming in second is Lee "Scratch" Perry, with 36 sessions (12%). The Wailers self-produced 92 sessions (31%).
- The studio the Wailers recorded in most often was Studio One, with 90 sessions (30%). Coming in second was Randy's Studio 17, with 67 sessions (23%).
- 22 of the 296 sessions listed here (7%) are recordings of cover versions or reworking of other artist's songs.
- There are 48 compilations or reissues referenced in the Timeline.
- Of the 296 sessions, only 14 of the songs (5%) have not been collected or reissued.
It wouldn't have been possible to present most of the recording information in this timeline without Roger Steffens and Leroy Jodie Pierson's Bob Marley And The Wailers The Definitive Discography. There's a mountain of information in there, a hundred times more than you can see here, so it's most definitely worth tracking down a copy of the book. Roger was also kind enough to send me a copy of the notes he's compiled in the years after the discography was published. Roger's oral history of Bob, So Much Things To Say was also indispensable.
If you have information that's missing from the timeline or spot an error, let me know:
Jah love, and keep the fire burning.
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