I have included a short profile of legendary blues guitarist, and former member of Marley’s Wailers, Donald Kinsey.  I am a huge fan of his guitar work, especially his work with Bob Marley and the Wailers in the mid 70s.

Kinsey was a touring member of the Wailers in the mid-seventies, later leaving to become an integral part of Peter Tosh‘s Word, Sound, and Power. Kinsey was a part of Marley’s most memorable performances, including the Beacon Theater 1976, Roxy Theater 1976. and Santa Barbara 1976.

Born May 12, 1953 in Gary, Indiana, Kinsey is one of three sons of the late Chicago blues performer Big Daddy Kinsey. He is currently a member of famed blues collective The Kinsey Report, which he formed in 1984 with his brothers Ralph Kinsey Kenneth Kinsey, and Ron Prince. He has toured and recorded with some of the greatest blues and reggae musicians in the world including Albert King, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley & The Wailers and Roy Buchanan.

It is a day in 1975 that Kinsey walks into Island Records’ New York City office hoping to secure a deal for his band, White Lightning. For a roots musician steeped in the blues, what he saw altered the path of his career, and changed his life forever.

When I went inside, there were all these photos of Bob Marley on the wall. I had never heard of him or reggae,” Kinsey told Howard Campbell of The Jamaica Gleaner last year.

He leaves the office with 2 cassettes:  Natty Dread and Catch A Fire.  He cannot believe what he hears on these tapes.  A new form of roots music.  A music that, much like the blues, digs down deep in your soul and refuses to let go.  Almost a year later he is in Criteria Studios in Miami, FL recording guitar for “Roots, Rock, Reggae” and “Johnny Was.” He was soon touring the world in support of Rastaman Vibration.

In the Gleaner article published on May 3, 2011, Kinsey recalls his first meeting with Marley:

“Kinsey said he first met Marley at a press conference in 1975 in New York City. He struck up a conversation with his manager, Don Taylor, and got a call from the Marley camp shortly after, asking if he would be interested in playing on the superstar’s next project.

Touring the planet with the “King of Reggae” is a dream come true for the talented 23 year old guitarist, but his association with Marley is a risky proposition:

“The most dramatic incident of Kinsey’s association with Bob Marley came in December 1976 when thugs stormed the singer’s home and tried to kill him.  Marley and his band were rehearsing for the Smile Jamaica concert which was organized by the Government of prime minister Michael Manley to promote peace between political gangs.  Kinsey said he was with Marley and Taylor in the kitchen when the shooting started.  ‘There was a guy at the door ,and he had a gun. He must have fired about seven shots, and we ran for cover,’ Kinsey said.  Marley’s sustained minor wounds, but Taylor was struck five times and had to be flown to Miami for emergency treatment. Marley performed at the concert, but left Jamaica immediately after.”

Kinsey eventually leaves the Wailers and joins the legendary Word, Sound, and Power, a collective of super-talented musicians put together by Peter Tosh.  He records on the Mama Africa and Wanted: Dread and Alive albums, both of which are considered historic records.

On the last time he saw Marley:

“Kinsey said he last saw Marley in California in 1979 when Marley performed at the Oakland Coliseum.  ‘I rode with him to the hotel, and I could see something was wrong with him. I asked him if anything was wrong and he said he was just tired,’ Kinsey recalled.”

Kinsey currently tours with his band The Kinsey Report.  They regularly incorporate Marley tunes into their live shows.

See Donald Kinsey in the critically-acclaimed documentary “Marley” to be released worldwide April 20, 2012.

Please visit Kinsey’s website at www.donaldkinsey.com.

Donald Kinsey

©Lee Jaffe



It just so happens that Donald Kinsey plays guitar on one of my favorite Marley bootlegs: Beacon Theater, NYC, 1976.  As you can hear for yourself, Kinsey adds a bluesy guitar to the Wailers heavy roots sound.  It works just fine.  His guitar work is one of the highlights of this show for me.  He brings a new element to songs like “Rebel Music (3 O’clock Road Block)” and “Concrete Jungle.”

I have included the show in lossless (FLAC) audio for your listening pleasure.  Bob Marley and the Wailers performed at the Beacon Theater on April 30 and May 1, 1976.  They played 2 shows each night.  I have included the show from April 30, 1976.

I have also included a review of the show by John Rockwell, published in the New York Times on May 2, 1976.

Bob Marley and the Wailers
Beacon Theater, NYC
April 30, 1976

Band Lineup

Bob Marley, vocals, rhythm guitar
Aston Barrett, bass
Carlton Barrett, drums
Donald Kinsey, lead guitar
Earl “Chinna” Smith, lead guitar
Tyrone Downie, keyboards
Alvin Patterson, percussion
The I-Threes, backing vocals

Early Show

   1. “Are You Ready?”
   2. “Rastaman Chant” “Lion Of Judah” “Keep The Faith”
   3. “Burnin’ And Lootin'”
   4. “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”
   5. “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)”
   6. “Want More”
   7. “Roots, Rock, Reggae”
   8. “Johnny Was”
   9. “Lively Up Yourself”
  10. “Night Shift”
  11. “Crazy Baldhead”
  12. “Positive Vibration”
  13. “Rat Race”
  14. “War” “Get Up, Stand Up”

Late Show

1. “Rastaman Chant” “Lion Of Judah” “Keep The Faith”
2. “Burnin’ And Lootin'”
3. “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”
4. “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)”
5. “Want More”
6. “Johnny Was”
7. “No Woman, No Cry”
8. “Lively Up Yourself”
9. “Kinky Reggae”
10. “Crazy Baldhead”
11. “Roots, Rock, Reggae”
12. “Positive Vibration”
13. “Rat Race”
14. “Get Up, Stand Up” “War”