Reggae icon Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, Bob Marley’s bassist, dies

Aston Barrett, the bassist of the legendary reggae band Bob Marley and the Wailers, has died at the age of 77.

“Family Guy,” as he was known, was born in 1946 and grew up in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston.

In announcing his death, his family said Barrett had been through a “long medical battle” but gave no details.

He was a key figure in the growth of reggae. He played on almost all of the Wailers’ albums, as well as Burning Spear, Peter Tosh and many other acts.

In a social media post on Saturday, Barrett’s son Aston Barrett Jr said: “It is with the greatest of sadness that we share the news of the passing of our beloved Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett after a long medical battle.”

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Aston Barret first gained fame as a member of the Upsetters, the backing band of reggae pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

He joined Bob Marley’s band in 1974.

His bass work is a key feature of many Wailers hits, including I Shot the Sheriff, Get Up Stand Up, Stir It Up, Jamming, No Woman, No Cry and Could You Be Love.

“The drum is the heartbeat and the bass is the backbone,” Barrett once said. “If the bass is not right, the music will have problems in the background, so it will be paralyzed.”

Bob Marley died of cancer at the age of 36 in 1981. The Wailers continued to perform, with numerous lineup changes and several singers taking Marley’s place.

Barrett told the BBC in 2013 that he had had 23 daughters and 18 sons. “I’m the family man,” he said. “I have the gift of 41 [children].”