Wailers royalties battle begins

Bob Marley's bass guitarist brings claim against Island Records

The trial of the action brought by Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett against Island Records begins in the High Court today. Barrett, bass guitar player with Bob Marley & The Wailers throughout their 1970s heyday, is bringing the action both on his own behalf and as administrator of the estate of his brother Carlton ‘Carly’ Barrett, the group’s drummer who was murdered in 1987.


Barrett says that Island have failed to pay him or his brother’s estate royalties due under a 1974 recording contract and subsequent contracts, and that Island and other defendants have infringed the copyright in a number of songs he and Carly wrote or co-wrote.


Island Records claim that, despite the Barretts’ names appearing on the 1974 contract, it and all subsequent agreements were with Marley or one of his companies alone. They deny copyright infringement and contend that all of Aston’s claims are barred under a 1994 agreement entered into to settle a 1989 action brought by various members of The Wailers in Jamaica.


The claim is being heard by Mr Justice Lewison in the Chancery Division of the High Court in London.


5RB’s Stephen Bate and Richard Munden, instructed by Hamlins, act for Aston Barrett.