Bob Marley (& The Wailers)

Reggae's only true superstar, Robert Nesta Marley, was born in 1945 in rural St Ann, Jamaica, the son of a teenage mother and middle-aged white British sea captain. As part of vocal trio The Wailers - who scored their first hit in 1964 with rude boy anthem Simmer Down - he emerged as a singer of considerable(...)

Burning Spear

Winston Rodney was born in St Ann's Parish, Jamaica, where civil rights leader Marcus Garvey was born in 1887, some 58 years previously. The experience of growing up among the working class in St Ann's (also the birthplace of Bob Marley) would colour both men's work. Garvey would champion the "back to Africa" crusade through(...)

Harder They Come, The (1973)

Few soundtracks have changed the face of popular music more than the one for The Harder They Come, which single-handedly put reggae on the map, paving the way for Bob Marley's breakthrough album a year later. Billed as 'Jamaica's very first feature-length film', it shouldered the responsibility of introducing the country to a world so unfamiliar with Jamaica that(...)

Peter Tosh

Having quit The Wailers and Island Records (he would frequently call the label boss Chris Blackwell, "Chris Whiteworst"), Tosh delivered Legalize It in 1976. The album was less politically focused than Tosh's later work, but listeners loved his exuberance - and the cover image of him in a marijuana field. The album charted at #54 in the(...)

Steel Pulse

The original members of British reggae band Steel Pulse - David Hinds, Ronald "Stepper" McQueen, Basil Gabbidon and Selwyn Brown - all hailed from the Birmingham Ghettoes of Handsworth, England. Their families were immigrants from the West Indies. Growing up in poverty, they were victimised by racist attitudes that kept them from being accepted in(...)

Toots & The Maytals

Toots and the Maytals were already huge reggae stars - they were credited with coining the very word on their Do The Reggay (1968) - when they released Pressure Drop in 1970. Rumour had it that the Maytals were Island Records president Blackwell's first choice over Bob Marley and the Wailers when he looked to sign a reggae group(...)