By age 23, Donald Kinsey had already earned his place in music history, having played in the bands of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Albert King. His credits for 1976 alone include Peter Tosh’s Legalize It and Live and Dangerous albums, as well as Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibration and Live at the Roxy. In short, Kinsey, master of the poignant guitar solo, has one of the most impressive blues and reggae resumes imaginable.
Since the mid 1980s, Kinsey has devoted himself to playing alongside those who bear his family name. He’s recorded four albums with his father and five with the Kinsey Report, which features his brothers Ralph on drums and Kenneth on bass. The following interview took place in Gary, Indiana, on August 1, 1985. At the time, Big Daddy Kinsey’s first album, Bad Situation, was about to be released.
How does it feel to be back playing the blues?
I’ll tell you, it’s a good feeling. It really is. I was deep off into the reggae scene for a minute there. It was refreshing and almost regenerating coming back and playing the blues. Being here at home in the Midwest really, really, really did me wonders within myself.
When did you come back to the Midwest?
You co-wrote all the songs on your dad’s album.
Yeah. Normally how we work as a family is I might come up with a basic structure, and might even have a melody, but I might not have one word. I make a tape of whatever it is I have for my dad or brother. Or vice versa – they’ll do the same thing. We’re very creative musically, and usually the music is almost the first thing. We might have a concept of where we want the song to go. It was dad’s album, so we were writing for it to really fit dad. He had to be a part of everything, you know.
Like the “Nuclear War” tune, for an example. We picked a topic that was a now topic. It just so happened that his father was still living. His father was in World War I, my father was in World War II. I didn’t go into the service, but my brother Ralph, he was also in the service. So we just took it a little more recent than that and just said, “Well, my son is in Lebanon,” you know. It’s always a group effort. We always get together at my father’s house. Downstairs we have a little four-track system set up, so it’s like headquarters.
You’ve played with your brother Ralph in a few bands.
Yeah. First of all, it was White Lightnin’. We did an album on Island Records. That came about after me playing with Albert King. When I was with Albert, I met this bass player who goes by the name of Buster Jones. During that time my brother Ralph was in the service. He came home, and then the three of us got together. We put together a three-piece. It was rock and roll – kind of like heavy metal.
Lot of solos?
Right, right. It was good. And it was bluesy. I can’t think of anything that I’ve done, man, that wasn’t bluesy. We came here to Gary, and we got together. We started writing the material and just shooting stuff around, trying to see what our sound would be as a three-piece. We were using big chords and heavy solos. There’s something about three-pieces – I used to really check out a lot of Cream – and I was interested. “Mississippi Queen” was one of my favorite tunes, by Mountain. And then also playing with Albert King taught me a lot. It helped me at that particular time, because I was going through that period where I was thinking speed was it, as far as soloing and really trying to get something across. But Albert and a lot of people helped me grab my heart, man, and slow down a little bit. Then I was more into delivering something that would be easier for people to catch on to, something that they can carry with them in their memory.
Did you learn that from Albert King?
Yeah, Albert. Every now and then he would give me solos, you know, and one day we was on the bus and he just came to me and said, “Hey, when you solo, slow yourself down.” He said, “Those people out there in the audience, by the time they are getting ready to leave from that concert, they not gonna remember anything you done. You’re not gonna leave them with a feeling. It’s better for you to utilize four or five notes in some type of melody that can really connect with the people than to play 150 notes within a solo.” And it kind of made sense to me. I just took that and tried to mold it into something. It done me good. I try to play more with the melody type of form, where the solo is almost a vocalist type of situation.
What should a Donald Kinsey solo do?
It should enhance whatever the song is all about musically. It should be like an icing on the cake and not change the flavor of the cake. Yeah.
I’d heard about that. How did you get the name?
Is that your earliest memory of music?
What was the name of the band back then?
It was my father’s band. During that time, dad would always carry a revue. So for a while it was Big Daddy Kinsey and The Constellations, which was like the name of our band. Then it got off into Big Daddy Kinsey and His Fabulous Sons.
Were you in the Constellations when you backed Eddie Silvers?
Your first recording, right?
What kind of guitar was it?
Oh, man, I had a ’57 Gibson Les Paul, a sunburst. I still have it, man. It’s a monster guitar. So we sit down and we made an arrangement on this. And the one that dad did was “Livin’ a Hard Life.”
Were these 45 rpm singles?
Yes, these was just singles.
Did you do other recordings before Albert King?
Did you play with your dad up until you joined Albert King’s band?
Were you about 18?
Right, I was 18. And you know what? I’ll tell you something else too, man. I came out of school in January, because I had enough credits rather than wait until the commencement. I said, “Just go ahead and give me my diploma, and maybe I can go out here and work in one of these mills for a few months, help save up me some money and tighten up all my equipment.” I wanted to put away some money if I need to travel or go in the studio. So I was working straight days. It was perfect. I wasn’t trying to make no ton of money out there. I just wanted something easy and make a little money and be able to rehearse in the evenings and work on the weekends with my music. I was a janitor – that was cool. I wasn’t working that hard. I come to work one day, and they told me to go out on the tracks. They put me up on one of those blast furnaces. The next day, they told me to report for 3:00-11:00. I called home and told my father what they were doing. So dad said, “Well, quit, man.” So I came back in there and told them I quit. A week after that, Albert came through town, and then this happened.
How long were you with Albert King?
I was with Albert for a little over three years.
Did you leave his band to form White Lightnin’ with your brother?
Yes. That was a nice experience. When we was in New York, we hooked up with Gary Curford. He was involved with Felix Pappalardi [bassist for Mountain and producer for Cream]. Felix, at the time, hadn’t been doing too much, and Gary thought that it would be a very good project for Felix, with us being a trio and having the type of energy that we was dealing with at that time. Felix – I couldn’t have thought of anybody better, really. It was an honor for us to be working with him. We became very close, and we spent a lot of time together before going in the studio. The name of the album was White Lightnin’.
Did White Lightnin’ tour?
Yeah. Really just here in the United States. We was on the road with Black Oak Arkansas, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull.
Is this when you hooked up with Bob Marley and The Wailers?
Were you a reggae fan at that time?
Not at all! [Laughs.] Well, I’ll tell you what happened. When I first walked up inside of Island Records there in New York, I seen all these posters with Bob Marley. Naturally, I asked my manager, “Who is this guy Bob Marley?” My manager knew Bob Marley – they’d had some type of dealings before – and I got to pick up quite a few cassettes of his music. For some reason or another, I understood the music from the very beginning. I understood the vibration of the music. So when I met Bob, I was familiar with some of his songs; I had listened to some of them. But this was just like a week or two before I met him. Anyway, I guess Bob had heard the White Lightnin’ album or had heard something about me being a guitar player with a very heavy blues background. And Bob liked the blues.
Were you mostly playing blues?
Did you have to adapt your style much?
Well, I had to adapt it more or less more rhythm-wise. Reggae, to me, also has a touch of country and western flavor, especially when you’re approaching it from a lead guitar kind of standpoint. And then Peter Tosh, too, a lot of the songs he writes and a lot of the style really has a touch of country and western. I’m the type of guy if I walk in on a track – you know, somebody calls me in and they done already laid these tracks down – well, then, I just try to feel the music and what the song is all about. The mood of the song. And I try to enhance that. You take, for instance, the song on the Legalize It album “You Never Miss Your Water Until Your Well Runs Dry.” I see a lot of country and western kind of flavor in that, musically. So I wasn’t playing a bunch of heavy kind of sounds – it was more mellow, sweet kind of textures. You know that I mean?
The opposite of what you were doing with White Lightnin’.
So you had to compress your style.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Because it was definitely the opposite of White Lightnin’. What I found was it was really good for me to do something that was such a drastic change. It called me to have to discipline myself. The one good thing about it, though – they would talk to me, especially when it came to the rhythm. In reggae, they do a lot of doubling on the bass line and the plucking kind of stuff. They had to really get me into that. There are so many different methods that they use for doing that. And the skank – oh, man! The skank is like the chicka, chicka sound.
The scratchy rhythm.
Right, the scratchy rhythm. Peter Tosh is like the godfather of that. I mean, you give that guy a wah-wah and put a pick in his hand, and that just is gone! He’s the ultimate. He can do some rhythms with the scratchin’. But I picked up on this stuff really, really quick. The rhythm was in me already. The rhythm was there. It didn’t take me long to grab hold to it. Plus, I just put myself all the way into what they was doin’. I went down to Jamaica.
This is with Peter Tosh or Bob Marley?
When I did the Legalize It album, I met them in Miami. I never did go down to Jamaica until I hooked up with Bob.
Did you tour with Tosh before playing on Rastaman Vibration?
Yes. Just the Legalize It tour. That must have been, say, like about a year. That was about ’75, because we did the Rastaman Vibration album in ’76.
How did you switch from Peter Tosh to Bob Marley?
Man, I came home from our tour with Peter. I’d been out just riding around, and I came home and my father said, “You got a telephone call from a Don Taylor.” I said, “Don Taylor? That’s Bob Marley’s manager.” He said, “Well, he left a number here for you to call.” So I called him, and Bob answered the phone. When I tell him who I am, he said, “Don-al Kinsey! What’s happening, mon?” [Laughs.] I said, “Hey, you tell me what’s happening.” He said, “Yeah, mon, I want you to come down and play some gits with me.” And so I said, “Well, yes!” They was in Florida, recording at Criteria. The timing was just perfect. I said, “No problem. Just send me a ticket and I’ll be there.” It really just happened just like that.
So Bob had already recorded Rastaman Vibration, and then you overdubbed your parts?
Did you do some of the wah-wah parts?
Yeah, and I did the one [sings “Woman hang your head and cry”].
Yeah. I did most of the soloing on that whole album.
You joined the Wailers at that time.
And went down to Kingston?
Was there any pressure on you to become a Rastafari?
Did that lifestyle come naturally to you?
Well, my father’s father is a minister. Ever since I’ve known him, he was a minister. And I used to go to his church every Sunday. I also played guitar in the church. I used to play behind a lot of gospel groups and stuff like that.
Was that a Holiness church?
Yes, it was. Church of God in Christ. So I went through this period of time that I would go to church and my grandmother would get up and testify to all the saints. She would say, “I would like for the saints to pray for my grandkids, that they won’t take this talent that’s been given to them and use it in a negative way.” Or, as she would say, “use it for the devil.” That used to bother me, man. I didn’t know what she was talkin’ about. All I knew is that I liked music. I would play all kinds of music. I didn’t really know what she was saying. But one thing that kind of woke me up is that I know that my grandmother loved me, and I knew there was some meaning to what she was saying.
Maybe she had a premonition.
I don’t know, man. She probably did, because my grandmother is that type of woman. As a matter of fact, when I was there in Jamaica when the shooting [of Bob Marley] went down, my grandmother, she felt that because she had called my people. She’d been trying to get in touch with me while all this was going down.
But anyway, I kind of think that when I got hooked up with Bob and them, I began to start seeing another outlet with music other than, say, the traditional type of gospel that I was accustomed to. I saw how these guys was using music and the messages that they was puttin’ in their music. A lot of these songs that I was hearing – especially with Bob and Peter – was like gospel music.
Did you have any issues with their religious beliefs?
Well, as time went on, I started having some problems with it. I didn’t understand the whole concept with Selassie. Other than that, there really wasn’t too much problem. I understood the dreadlocks.
What kind of a man was Bob Marley?
Did he tell you what he wanted you to play?
He never did say anything to me about what he wanted. That’s one think I liked about them. I think that they felt that I was sincere about the music, that I liked the music, that I wouldn’t just come out there and go inside the studio and just put anything down. I would go in and look up and tell them to run the track down, and I’d tune up. As I’m doing this, I’d be playing a few riffs, just filling the track out. Most of the time, it would end up I would do something, and they would say, “Yeah, man!”
How did you affect their music?
There was one time I read an article, and the guy tried to say that I was adding American blues to reggae, or adding “slick licks” to reggae. But I’ll tell you the truth: After I had been around the music for a while, I started hearing certain things about, say, for instance, The Police or Men at Work and groups like that that take the basic foundation of reggae and turn it into pop. They go out here and take elements of different music and they become #1 records, big records for them. And you have these [Jamaican] guys that are like the godfather of this music, and they don’t know what a gold record or a platinum record looks like.
You see, Bob would expand more. I started seeing that the music needed to go somewhere. I started becoming interested in wanting to be part of the music from a track standpoint of view – from the very first creative impulse. Like on this last album, the Mama Africa album, I requested from Peter that I be able to be there from the moment of laying the tracks, because I feel that’s where it’s all that, man. If it’s not there in the tracks, it’s not really there. And so when we was doing that album, the producer Chris Kenzie came up to me – we were staying at the same house – and he asked me what if Peter did a version of “Johnny B. Goode.” When he first said it, I had to just think for a minute. I said, “Well, a lot of rock and roll groups have done a version of ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ and they did it just like Chuck Berry did it. If Peter did it, there wouldn’t be nothing there that would remind you of the original ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ other than maybe some hot guitar licks.”
So I sit down and try to work out an arrangement. And it turned out we came up with a pretty nice little arrangement and presented this to Peter. For a long time, Peter didn’t want to do the song. For whatever reasons, he wasn’t into doing somebody else’s song. I don’t know what it was. There would be a lot of other Rastamans around that would just tell him that he don’t need to do somebody else’s song. “You don’t need to do some rock and roll tune, man.” But I felt that the tune really had something in common with Peter. Peter’s from out in the country – you know what I mean? We changed a few of the lyrics around, like saying “deep down in Jamaica close to Mandeville, back up in the woods on top of the hill,” for it to really be Peter. Instead of being the leader of a rock and roll band, he’d have a reggae band. But, man, it was difficult. He did not want to do this song.
And this is an example of some of the things that I contributed, in a sense, to the music. Some people felt it as being “diluting the purity of reggae.” But I don’t see it that way. And “Johnny B. Goode” was a pretty nice record for Peter Tosh. After he finally laid the vocal track, it ended up being one of his favorite tracks.
What kind of a setup did you use for Bob Marley?
So you used that same guitar with Albert, Bob, and Peter?
Right. I think it’s a Les Paul Custom.
But anyway, when this guy pulled the gun back, I felt that I could walk, so I immediately ran and jumped behind a big Anvil case that we had in one of the corners. There was already about three or four people back there. And then I seen Don Taylor walking out, and he caught most of those bullets. Oh, he was in bad shape, man. He finally collapsed after losing so much blood. And then after all of that went down, I was left there – me and Neville Garrick, the artist – and everybody else went underground. The police came around. I didn’t know what was going on. The police had my passport – I couldn’t leave. So anyway, I didn’t want to stay at my hotel because I figured these people might know where I’m staying at and they might want to come and – you know. They might be looking for me. I didn’t know what was happening. I knew these sisters that was airline stewardesses, and I told them what happened. So they let me stay at their place. The following day I tried to get in touch with somebody to find out what was going on, but I could not get in touch with nobody.
Did you play at the Smile Jamaica concert?
Yes. What happened was the police, some kind of way, figured out where I was at. They had walkie-talkies and came over to the house and said that Bob wanted to talk with me. I said, “Where is he at?” He was up in Strawberry Hills – he was at this house up in the hills. So they took me down to the Sheraton Hotel and I couldn’t believe that. When I got there, there was so many TV camera crews and stuff there, so much wires you could barely make it through the front door. It was like a whole big scene down there. So I went upstairs and I talked to Bob by walkie-talkie. Bob asked me, “Donald, you wanna do the show?” Now, where I was at on the balcony, I could look over there at the park where all the people was. For some reason or another, I just had faith that the Almighty was with us, because if it was meant for something to happen to us, it would have happened then. So I wasn’t afraid. I just put my faith in the Almighty to protect me, and I told Bob. I said, “Yeah, I’ll be there. I’ll go.” We couldn’t find all of the band members – the bass player wasn’t there.
Didn’t Cat Coore from Third World fill in?
Yeah, I think Cat played bass. So man, we did it!
Was that your last appearance with Bob?
At that time. I got back with him in ’79. What happened was, after the Smile Jamaica show, everybody just went over to the Bahamas. I was really shaken up. I just came up to Bob and I told him that I needed a break. He understood. So that was pretty much how I split. We were still tight, but I was confused because nobody would tell me nothing.
Then you went back to working with Peter Tosh?
I got a call from Herbie Miller, Peter Tosh’s manager. I met them up in Woodstock because they was rehearsing for the Rolling Stones tour there. The Stones really was into Peter, man. Peter was finishing his Bush Doctor album there at Bearsville Studio, and the Stones was rehearsing for the tour there. So we went up there and Robbie Shakespeare, along with Peter, was producing. That album had a couple of hot tracks on it – I kind of liked it – plus I liked the fact of being able to do some tracks with Keith Richards. He played on the album too.
Did Keith Richards’ style fit in with yours?
Yeah, man. They love the blues, man.
Did you accompany Peter Tosh on the 1978 Rolling Stones tour?
Yeah. That was really great, man. I had fun doing that. Usually by the end of an album, I would end up doing the tour. We didn’t start the tour – I think the Stones was already out like a week or two before we actually started it. But that was an experience man, I’ll tell you. The first show we did was in Philly, I think. You get over 100,000 people at that big stadium. These people was there to see the Rolling Stones, man, and we was up on that stage. It was the first time I’d been in a situation on that level. We first came on, and we got a few apples up there on the stage, a few cans. This happened for about maybe 15 minutes. Mick Jagger eventually came out on the stage and he made a statement, which was really nice. He said that we was invited on this tour as his guests, and he told the people to just cool out, sit back, and get into the music. After doing that, we struck into “Don’t Look Back,” which was the record that they had did together on the Bush Doctor album.
Mick Jagger was up there singing with you?
Right. That tour there really exposed reggae to a wider audience. We started out with them on the East Coast, and out of the whole tour we must have did about 15 shows.
Did you ever join in during the Rolling Stones’ set?
Most of the time they was onstage with us. They wouldn’t do it every place, but every now and then they would do the “Don’t Look Back” tune. See, Peter was on Rolling Stones Records too. Keith wouldn’t come out too much. I was hoping that he would, because there was one tune that we actually played on together, which was the title track “Bush Doctor.” Keith wouldn’t come out too much, but Mick would, and he would play guitar too. I had the pleasure of singing “Happy Birthday” with Mick on that tour. [Laughs.]
After the Stones tour, you rejoined Bob Marley?
Yeah. That tour ended out there in Anaheim. I really liked the vibes of the people out there. This thing that I wanted to put together with the Chosen Ones, I thought the music would be more acceptable out there on the West Coast. I met a few people in the Bay Area and started to look for a house. I wanted a house big enough for the whole band to be there. I wanted it out in the country where we could rehearse and not disturb people. So we ended coming out there and hooked up with management. We all moved to Petaluma and started rehearsing. We started doing some gigs around there – you know, the Keystones and the Old Waldorf, different places. Next thing I know, Bob is coming back on tour. When he came into Oakland is when I hooked up with him. Really, I just did the West Coast with him. Junior Marvin was with him, and Al Anderson was with him as well.
Was this his final tour?
That was the beginning of it. It was a long stretch – they was out there for a long time.
Could you tell he was ill?
Are you in any of the Bob Marley films or videos?
You know what? I have not actually seen any of my films, but I’ve had people come up and tell me they’ve seen videos and films with me in them. There was a lot of places we played where there was cameras. But like I said, I haven’t really seen any of them myself.
What happened after Bob Marley’s West Coast tour?
I came back and I did the Chosen Ones EP.
What kind of music was that?
You mentioned that you thought the blues scene was picking up. Do you still feel that way?
Yes! I really do.
Are there any young players you admire?
Well, let’s see. There are not too many. Since I been back here, workin’ with my father, there hasn’t been too many young guitar players. Michael Robinson was with me with Chosen Ones – he’s playing with Koko Taylor now. Lurrie Bell is coming – he’s good. He’s with Billy Branch in Sons of the Blues. Now, he is someone to keep an eye on. He’s been knowing my father and my family for a long time. I just seen him last Sunday night.
Oh, wow. I would say my favorite track on it is “Kinsey’s Mood.”
Does your dad play the Elmore James-style slide on there?
Yes, right. Whenever you hear slide, that’s him, except for “Change Your Evil Ways” – that’s me.
That sounds kind of like Duane Allman.
Was that in open tuning?
No, that’s just straight-ahead tuning.
What did you play on the song “Tribute to Muddy”?
On “Tribute to Muddy,” I’m playing the basic rhythm guitar. Well, I’m doing two guitar parts on there. I’m also doing that kind of bass line type of thing.
Who does the “Treat Your Woman Right” solo?
That’s me. Dad is doing the rhythm on that.
Does he play rhythm in “Gonna Make You Mine”?
Yes, he’s playing like the reggae skanking there! I was playing the fills. Now that tune is one of my favorite tunes on there because we tried to create a new type of flavor. It was good for dad too, because when I was first getting off into reggae, it took a while for my father to have appreciation for that. [Laughs.] We was downstairs one day, me and him, just kind of messing around. I said, “Hey, dad. You play this seventh chord. Just give it one stroke – chank, chank, chank!” Then I came up with the other melody around it. Before I knew it, he was into it, and so we went with it. He felt the music – he was in the groove with it.
Did you use your Les Paul again for Bad Situation?
Alright. I used my Gibson, and another one too. There’s this guitar called Avatar – that’s the company in New York. Anyway, I got an SG from them. When we was in New York during the Mama Africa tour, they came up to me and the guitar player in Tosh’s band, Steve Golden – he’s a great guitarist – and they wanted us to check out their guitar. They knew I was playing the Gibson. So they brought two guitars down for us to check out, and they left one there with me. They just told me to keep it. If I liked it, great, play it. If I don’t, toss it in the trash or whatever. So I been playing it. I plays it now, as a matter of fact. Up until then, I used my Gibson on every recording.
Did you have a backup guitar with Marley and Tosh?
With Tosh, we always had a couple of guitars. Peter had a yellow Gibson with a double cutaway. I loved this guitar. In fact, I was using Peter’s guitar on the tour. I really wasn’t into taking my Gibson because I had a couple of guitars stolen on the tour, but not the one I’ve had since I was young. I was just not into taking my guitars out on the road, but I did take my main ax, and I took it with me everywhere I went. I wouldn’t let it go on the bus or with the rest of the equipment.
You have a very smooth style. Do you use a pick?
Yes, I do use a pick. Not all the time, but most of the time I do. There are only a few kind of picking things I do without one. I’ll tell you the song I didn’t use a pick on – the “Gary, Indiana” song. I was doing a lot of fingerpicking, like two-note kind of chords. So I use my fingers with that.
What fingers do you use to bend strings?
I use my first three fingers. The second finger not as much as the first and the third. Yeah.
When you’re bending a string, do you back that finger up with the others?
No, I use just the one.
That’s like Albert King.
What amps do you record with now?
I use Twin Reverbs – the same ones I’ve had all along. But on the Chosen Ones EP, for “Music Make Me Feel Alight” I used a little Yamaha rehearsal amp. [Laughs.] That was more of a rock and roll kind of tune, and that amp really distorted. I also used effects devices on dad’s album. I used a Lexicon Prime Time [digital delay] on “Gonna Make You Mine,” on the kind of reggae tune. I’m not into so much effects, really.
A true bluesman.
Yeah. If anything, just a little tight delay here and there to fatten it a little bit. On “Nuclear War” I used a Mutron Super Phase on the chords. I did all the guitar parts on that song.
Yes, I am. Basically, I’m with my father right now. I’m working on putting together the Kinsey Report – me and my brothers.
Are you going to have your dad guest?
I’m going to try my best! [Laughs.]
Are you happy with the way your career’s going?
Well, yes. I’m kind of unhappy with seeing what’s happening to Peter. I hate to see him going through the changes he’s going through.
Is his career stalling?
Yeah. I put a lot of energy into Peter’s thing. I was really into it. I had a vision of where it could go. The last album, man, it set a pace for us to come back to do something, and it didn’t happen. So I was very disappointed about that. But at the same time, I was very happy with being able to do this with my father and to do this with my brothers, you know.
Are you mostly playing around Chicago and Gary?
Pretty much, but more so Chicago. We did a Founder’s Day festival here in Gary. We don’t really do too much playing in Gary. We play in Chicago on the weekends.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a professional guitar player?
If they have done got to the point where they made up their mind that they want to be a professional guitar player, the main thing that I would tell them is to listen to a variety of guitar players. Listen to different forms of music in order for them to someday possibly create some style of their own. Don’t just go off on what’s supposed to be the hottest guitar player on the rock scene or pop scene or whatever scene. Listen to some of everything. Like me – when I’m in my car, I never just tune in to one radio station. I listen to Latin music, I listen to all kinds of music. That would be one of my key things, because music is like blood, man. We all have it, and it’s all connected – I don’t care what kind of music it is. It’s all related to some other form of music. It’s just different people’s ways of expressing the same notes. People ask me who’s my favorite guitar players. I couldn’t really answer that question because I don’t tune in that deep to any one particular guitar player. That’s kind of the way I feel about that.
Did you learn to read or write music?
I got into reading more or less from a chord standpoint rather than solos and getting that deep into it. See, I arrange a lot, but I work with a guy who’ll sit down at the piano and we’ll work out what it is I’m doing, and then he’ll chart it for me. But I have been getting into that. I’ve been having thoughts about maybe going in and taking a little classical lesson, just to have that under my belt. That’s definitely good to have. All the things that I play, I can’t sit down and write it all down.
You sure have had an interesting career.
Yeah, it has been, man. I have a lot to be thankful for.
You’ve contributed a lot to the music too.
That makes me feel good as well because I know for a fact that these guys wouldn’t have wanted me around unless they felt that I truly contributed something. I feel real good about it. If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it the same way. I just look forward to the future. I look forward to doing more work with my father and my brothers.
For more on Bob Marley: Bob Marley’s Early Years: From Nine Miles to London
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© 2010 Jas Obrecht. All rights reserved. This interview may not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission.