Author(s): Colin Grant
The Wailers are the undisputed sovereigns of reggae: and one of the biggest and most influential groups of the twentieth century. In the course of their ten years together, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley produced a raft of songs – including ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, ‘I Shot the Sherriff’ and ‘Stir It Up’ - that have come to define an era, and a golden age in music. They had, at one stage, been inseparable; three great men united in their ambition for the kind of musical harmony and financial reward that would provide an escape from the Trench Town ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica. On the cusp of success however, they’d been pulled apart, if not by dark forces, then by the rapacious instincts of Chris Blackwell, the charming Machiavellian boss of Island Records. I & I: The Natural Mystics examines for the first time the history and development of the group, and the overlapping stories of each member in detail. It charts the complex relationship of these three strong personalities, from their beginnings as ‘The Teenagers’ to the group’s slow start, the roller-coaster of their fluctuating fortunes and musical peak, and the politics and ideologies that provoked their split in the mid 1970s. Following the trail of the Wailers from Jamaica through Europe, America, Africa and back to the vibrant and volatile world of Trench Town, I & I: The Natural Mystics is a remarkable and revelatory story of creativity, squandered talent and fierce ambitious rivalry – and an exploration of black emotional and intellectual thought in the twentieth century.
Colin Grant is the son of Jamaican parents who came to Britain in the late 1950s. He grew up in Luton and spent five years failing to study medicine at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel before turning to the stage. He has written and produced numerous plays including The Clinic, based on the lives of the photojournalists, Don McCullin and Tim Page. He joined the BBC in 1989 and worked as a script editor and producer of arts programmes on BBC World Service before joining the BBC radio Science Unit. He lives in Brighton.