Colin Grant

Listen to Colin talking about I&I The Natural Mystics at Calabash  Jamaica 2012

I and I The Natural Mystics Marley, Tosh and Wailer

Published in January 2011 by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Norton (USA).

Over one dramatic decade, a trio of Trenchtown R&B crooners, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley, swapped their 1960s Brylcreem hairdos and two-tone suits for 1970s battle fatigues and dreadlocks to become the Wailers—one of the most influential groups in popular music.

From youth to early adulthood, they had been inseparable; united in their ambition, through musical harmony and financial reward, to escape Jamaica’s Trench Town ghetto. On the cusp of success however, they’d been pulled apart by the elevation of Marley as first among equals and by the razor sharp instincts of Chris Blackwell, the shrewd and charming boss of Island Records.

I & I: The Natural Mystics examines for the first time the story of the Wailers, arguing that these musicians offered a model for black men in the second half of the twentieth century: accommodate and succeed (Marley), fight and die (Tosh) or retreat and live (Wailer). It charts their complex relationship, their fluctuating fortunes, musical peak, and the politics and ideologies that provoked their split.

Following their trail from Jamaica through Europe, America, and back to the vibrant and volatile world of Trench Town, Grant travels in search of the last surviving Wailer. He unravels the roots of their charisma, their adoption of Rastafari, their suspicion of race pimps and Obeah men (witch doctors), and their quest to become not just extraordinary musicians but also natural mystics.

I & I is a remarkable story of creativity, squandered talent and fierce ambitious rivalry – a mix of reportage and revelatory history.

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