Harnessing Harmony With Al Anderson Of The Original Wailers


It’s been over 30 years since Bob Marley and The Wailers’ iconic Legend album was released out into the world, and what a legacy has followed it. The Original Wailers have been on a cathartic journey since its formation and guitarist, Al Anderson, has made a phenomenal impact on where the remaining members stand today. The group is set to hit Australian shores this month, performing the Legend album in full along with new music to grace our ears.

We chat to Al Anderson about the upcoming Australian tour, his experience following the death of Bob Marley, and how we can come together as a global society to evoke harmony. Ayla Dhyani writes.

You’ll be performing the entirety of the Legend album on your upcoming Australian tour. Tell us about your thoughts on the album in comparison to when it was released.

It’s still wonderful. I remember when we went on a promotional tour for the Legend album after Bob’s passing with Jimmy Cliff. We played all the songs from the Legend album. There is another Wailers band that are more interested in being a tribute to themselves by playing all of Bob’s songs on the album in its entirety with original material from the Marley catalogue. We don’t do that. We honour Bob and The Original Wailers, but stay true to our own music as well.

What can Australian audiences expect from the show?

Just some world class festivities. It’s the best place to be at this time of year. You’ve got some good beer in your city and I’m looking forward to a great performance with some world class musicians from Jamaica. We want all our friends and fans to come out. We’re really looking forward to it.

Tell us a bit about your experience following the legacy of Bob Marley and the Wailers.

It’s just terrible that he passed so early. It was just a big hole. He was way too young and he had a lot more to offer than what was expected of him. He wrote some great songs, but he did a lot more for humanity. He was about uniting the world. I think if he had lived a little longer, he could have done a good job about keeping the peace. He would have been a good ambassador for the world, representing culture and music.

'Revolution' and 'One Love' have always been such important messages expressed in the music. Do you feel that the revolution has changed since then? Are we still fighting for the same causes?

Absolutely. I feel that Bob would have been a great leader even in his own country. I’m sure if he ran for policy, it would have been simple for him to be a minister. I would have voted for him.

On that note, there seemed to be a fair bit of backlash in regards to his messages at times. For instance, just before the Uprising tour in 1980, there was the iconic show in Zimbabwe where the stadium was tear-gassed and a riot broke out. What was the emotion like on that tour following that experience?

The performance was cut short by the revolutionaries. Overall I think it was for a great reason in support for Rhodesia. We thought it was a great cause for us to be involved in.

That’s very powerful. Within that, what do you think that us as a society can do to evoke change today?

I think that humanitarianism is on the low and we need to get people to start educating themselves about different cultures instead of their own.  For instance, the American experience is extended to us in earthquakes and everything else. So, I think that what God is doing, is bringing people together indirectly on his own. We then see that we need each other. I think we all need to start saving each other’s lives by being in love with the culture and individual people that are different. We should all live together in harmony.

Having been writing music and performing for so long, what’s the next step for you on your journey with music?

My intentions are to do the best that I can do to represent Bob Marley and The Original Wailers intentions and to perform at my best at all times to represent these iconic teachers. I am honoured that at such a young age, I had the opportunity to work with these people. I have the maximum amount of respect for them to have given me the guidance to get where I am today.

Is there a pinnacle moment that really stood out as a mind-blowing experience in your career so far?

Just the fact that I was connected to these people. I was very lucky. I was maybe 20 years old when I met them and I had no idea what was in for. I just feel grateful for that opportunity.

What moves you?

Just being alive everyday and giving thanks and praise to the Lord. He keeps us united, and hand-in-hand is the only way that we’re going to make a difference.