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Dwayne ‘Danglin’ Anglin on fronting the band which made Bob Marley famous

The Wailers will perform at The Irish Village in Dubai on Thursday, May 21. Courtesy Beverly Shaw



As musical shoes go, they don’t get much bigger than those of Bob Marley – the icon, the innovator, the legend.

Yet these are the shoes Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin steps into more than 200 nights a year, as frontman of The Wailers, the band Marley led from the mid-1960s until his death in 1981.

Along the way, of course, Marley brought the reggae rhythms of his Jamaican homeland to the world with timeless anthems including One Love,Jammin’, Get Up, Stand Up and No Woman, No Cry.

After his death, at the age of 36, Marley’s reputation solidified not only as one of the best-selling musical artists ever (an estimated 75 million albums), but also as a cultural icon destined to be imitated, replicated and to adorn bootlegged T-shirts.

In a bid to keep the original music alive, The Wailers continue to tour, led by 68-year-old bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett – so named because he allegedly fathered 52 children.

So, there’s a lot to live up to, and as The Wailers return to Dubai for a gig tonight, we caught up with 34-year-old Danglin.

We’ve seen a lot of The Wailers in the UAE of late – at Sandance in 2013, the MusicHall last year, and now The Irish Village. What keeps you coming back?

The people. The message that we have to spread – it’s important that we get it to as many places as possible. The fans in Dubai are very receptive, so I guess it’s the people that keep us coming back.

You talk about the message – why does Marley’s music still hold this almost magical spell over people?

The message inspires people, and people all over the world need inspiration. No matter where you are in the world, some people have been through different struggles to others, but the struggle is the same. We all just want to be accepted, and live in peace and unity. The Wailers’ music is very inclusive – it’s all about harmony between the races, one love, so people are drawn to that whenever they need inspiration.

Bob Marley & The Wailers

Bob Marley & The Wailers

Do you remember the first time you heard Marley’s music?

I grew up in Jamaica and The Wailers is part of our culture, part of our upbringing – it’s the music you hear on the radio, in the dancehalls and at home.

There was a backlash in the late 1970s, when the Jamaican people felt Marley had turned his back on them by pursuing the mainstream rock audience.

People were getting adjusted. The reason his music is so globally accepted is because he could pull off the rock influence that was in the music. It became something that was somewhat familiar, and at the same time very unique – that’s what people want to hear, and that’s what Marley provided. Jamaica is a very small island, so at that time it might not have been apparent what was needed – but Bob Marley knew what was needed.

You sound in awe of Marley. Did you have any reservations about taking this gig?

I haven’t done anything to deserve being in this position and I see it as a responsibility, not a burden. The burden is with Family Man – he’s the one who’s been left to carry on the music, to make sure the message is spread through live performances, which he has done faithfully for 34 years, non-stop, so he knows his responsibility.

You play more than 200 dates a year; in five years you must have sung some of these songs close to a thousand timed. You never get bored of, say, One Love?

No, it’s always important. When you’re on a mission it’s a different thing. I’m not just singing songs and entertaining. I’m educating people – if the fans never get tired of hearing it, I never get tired of singing it.

When you joined The Wailers in 2010, you were on the cusp of a successful solo career. Do you plan to resume it anytime soon?

I’ve been working on an album. It’s almost done at this point, but now I really just live for The Wailers. I haven’t made any plans as far as what can and can’t be done. So whatever happens I’m just going to go with it, rather than setting deadlines.

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

Let me put it another way – you’ve been with The Wailers for five years. Can you see yourself in the band another five years?

I don’t know, I honestly don’t know.

Will the band be going in five years?

Oh yeah, the band will definitely be still going. The burden is on Family Man. This is what he does – I’ve known him five years and I’ve never seen him interested in doing anything else.

There’s another band, The Original Wailers, led by Marley’s guitarist Al Anderson …

I really don’t know what their deal is. I’ve never spoken to Family Man about it. I just know that they exist. Family Man had the name, he always had the name The Wailers – that’s what I know.

How many of Family Man’s 52 children have you met?

I really haven’t been keeping count, to be honest.


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