Carlton "Carly" Barrett (17 December 1950 – 17 April 1987) was an
influential reggae drummer and percussionist. 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
Bob Marley and The Wailers around 1970. He wrote the
Bob Marley song "War" and with his brother Aston co-wrote
Carlton Barrett is featured on all the albums
recorded by the Wailers. Barrett popularised the one drop rhythm, a
percussive drumming style created by Winston Grennan. With Carly's
beats and his brother Aston's bass, the Wailer rhythm section planted
the seeds of today's international reggae. Barrett was murdered
outside his home in
Jamaica on 17 April 1987.
"Carly Barrett", as he liked to be called, was born in
1950, the son of Wilfred and Violet Barrett. As a teenager he built
his first set of drums out of some empty paint tins, and had initially
been influenced by Lloyd Knibb, the great drummer from the Skatalites.
He and his brother Aston were raised in Kingston and absorbed the
emerging ska sound. Working as a welder he first tried building a
guitar and playing. He realised guitar wasn't his thing and picked up
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
late 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 Harry J, and "Return of Django" for Lee "Scratch" Perry, with whom
they had now taken root.
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
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
Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution, and formed the early
foundation of the one drop sound.
Though original Wailers
Peter Tosh and
Bunny Livingston left the group
in 1973, Carlton and Aston remained with
Bob Marley and went on to
Natty Dread in 1974. Carlton has songwriting credits for two of
Natty Dread's songs: "Talkin' Blues" and "Them Belly Full".
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
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
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
Avedis Zildjian Company in the
United States and imported into
Jamaica. Carlton used only a pair of hi-hat cymbals (relatively light
in weight), at times with a cloth placed between the two cymbals, and
two crash cymbals (most likely of medium weight), but due the nature
of Carlton's style, in which the snare drum, bass drum, and hi-hat
cymbals were the primary timekeeping instruments, he did not use a
He also used a cowbell for live performances, evident in Bob Marley
& The Wailers album Live!.
Carlton Barrett Website
This article does not cite any sources. Please help improve this
article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material
may be challenged and removed. (December 2009) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message)
Bob Marley and the Wailers
Bob Marley (outline)
Other vocalists: Junior Braithwaite
Musicians: Aston Barrett
The Wailing Wailers
The Wailing Wailers (1965)
Soul Rebels (1970)
Soul Revolution (1971)
The Best of The Wailers
The Best of The Wailers (1971)
Catch a Fire
Catch a Fire (1973)
Natty Dread (1974)
Rastaman Vibration (1976)
Rebel Music (1986)
Natural Mystic (1995)
One Love (2001)
Africa Unite (2005)
African Herbsman (1973)
Rasta Revolution (1974)
Babylon by Bus
Babylon by Bus (1978)
Talkin' Blues (1991)
Live at the Roxy (2003)
Live Forever (2011)
Uprising Live! (2014)
Easy Skanking In Boston '78 (2015)
Chances Are (1981)
Chant Down Babylon
Chant Down Babylon (1999)
B Is for Bob
B Is for Bob (2009)
Songs of Freedom
Songs of Freedom (1992)
Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967–1972 (1997–2002)
Catch a Fire
Catch a Fire Tour (1973)
Burnin' Tour (1973)
Natty Dread Tour (1975)
Rastaman Vibration Tour (1976)
Jamaica Concert (1976)
Exodus Tour (1977)
One Love Peace Concert (1978)
Kaya Tour (1978)
Babylon by Bus
Babylon by Bus Tour (1979)
Survival Tour (1979–1980)
Uprising Tour (1980)
The I Threes
Word, Sound and Power
The Wailers Band
The Original Wailers
Lee "Scratch" Perry
Bob Marley Museum
Tribute to the Legend: Bob Marley
Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley's 50th Anniversary
Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley
One Love: The
Bob Marley Musical
Bob Marley and the Wailers singles
Catch a Fire
"Stir It Up"
"Get Up, Stand Up"
"I Shot the Sheriff"
"No Woman, No Cry"
"Waiting in Vain"
"Three Little Birds"
"One Love/People Get Ready"
"Is This Love"
"Could You Be Loved"
"Iron Lion Zion"
"Sun Is Shining"
"Turn Your Lights Down Low"
ISNI: 0000 0000 7730 3422