CARLTON "CARLY" BARRETT (17 December 1950 – 17 April 1987) was an
influential reggae drummer and percussion player. His musical
development in the early years was with his brother Aston "Family Man"
Barrett as a member of
Lee "Scratch" Perry 's "house band" The
Upsetters . The brothers joined
"Carly Barrett", as he liked to be called, was born in
In the late 1960s Carlton started playing sessions with his brother Aston, the pair calling themselves the Soul Mates or the Rhythm Force, before settling on The Hippy Boys , a line-up that featured Max Romeo on vocals. Leroy Brown , Delano Stewart , Glen Adams and Alva Lewis also played in the band's fluctuating line-up.
The Hippy Boys became one of Kingston's busiest session bands;
fittingly their first recording was "Watch This Sound", backing the
Slim Smith . They also released a couple of albums for Lloyd
Reggae with the Hippy Boys and
Reggae Is Tight. As well as
playing on many sessions for
Bunny Lee and
Sonia Pottinger , the
Barrett brothers also played on two 1969 UK chart hits, "Liquidator"
For Perry, they took the name The Upsetters , and knocked out a long run of instrumentals, including "Clint Eastwood", "Cold Sweat", "Night Doctor", and "Live Injection". It was while with Perry that the Barrett brothers first teamed up with The Wailers, then a vocal trio consisting of Bob, Peter and Bunny. After recording many now classic numbers, Carly and Aston decided to team up with The Wailers on a permanent basis.
The Barrett brothers recorded several singles with the Wailers in 1969–70: "My Cup (Runneth Over)", "Duppy Conqueror, "Soul Rebel", and "Small Axe". Most of these songs appeared on two Perry-produced Wailers albums: Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution, and formed the early foundation of the one drop sound.
Though original Wailers
Carlton remained with the Wailers in the studio and on tour until Bob Marley's death in 1981. His signature style can be heard on every recording the Wailers produced since 1969, with the exception of the 1970 "Soul Shakedown Party" sessions produced by Leslie Kong .
On 17 April 1987, just as Carlton arrived at his Kingston home and walked across his yard, a gunman stepped up behind him and shot him twice in the head. He was dead on arrival at a Kingston hospital at age 36.
Shortly after his murder, Carlton's wife, Albertine, her lover, a taxi driver named Glenroy Carter, and another man, Junior Neil, were arrested and charged with his killing. Albertine and Carter escaped the murder charge, and were instead convicted and sentenced to 7 years for conspiracy . After just one year in prison, they were released in December 1992 on a legal technicality .
Throughout his tenure with the Wailers and other projects, Carlton used a standard five-piece drum set consisting of a bass drum , two tom-toms (mounted on the bass drum), a floor tom-tom, and a snare drum .
Each tom-tom had only one drumhead , which gave the drums a dry sound that was ideal for the close-miked environment of the recording studio. However, it was Carlton's snare drum which was perhaps the biggest part of his signature sound. Carlton used Ludwig drums, and his snare was the popular Supraphonic model, which is made of "ludalloy", an aluminium alloy . The metal construction of the drum, in combination with the extremely high head tension that Carlton preferred, produced a loud, cutting "crack" sound that was a very prominent element of the Wailers' recordings. Carlton almost always left the snare wires of the drum disengaged, making the drum sound very similar to a timbale .
It is unknown exactly what make and model of cymbals were used on
Carlton's drum set, although it is very likely that they were made by
Avedis Zildjian Company in the
He also used a cowbell for live performances, evident in Bob Marley ">
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