September 4, 2017 – Earl Lindo was born Earl Wilberforce “Wire” Lindo on January 7, 1953 in Kingston, Jamaica. His nickname “wire” over time became “Wya”.
While attending Excelsior High School in the late sixties, he played bass and classical piano, before he became interested in the jazz sounds of Lee Dorsey and Jimmy Smith. With Barry Biggs, Mikey “Boo” Richards, and Ernest Wilson he then played in the Astronauts.
His initial foray into the reggae music came when he played keyboards for Tommy McCook And The Supersonics; a notable hit from the period was ‘The Ball’, credited to Lindo With The Supersonics. He then performed in the Meters alongside Bobbie Kalphat and Bobbie Denton. During their brief existence the group supported Bob Andy, Peter Tosh and Dennis Brown. Following the dissolution of the Meters, Lindo joined the Now Generation, supporting Sharon Forrester through her association with Geoffrey Chung. Lindo’s earlier association with Peter Tosh resulted in him being recruited on keyboards on a US tour alongside brothers Carlton and Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett.
When Reggae superstar Aston “Familyman” Barrett heard Lindo and recommended him to play for a Saturday afternoon television program Where It’s At on JBC. Lindo already spent his early days working at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One, where he played on innumerable recordings with every star Jamaica has to offer.
In 1972 he was invited to join The Wailers. He did the Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1973 US tour, but quit to join Taj Mahal’s band in 1974. They recorded, among others, ‘Black Man Brown Man’, which was later recorded and released by Judy Mowatt. In 1977, Lindo returned to Jamaica where he recorded with Big Youth, Culture, I. Roy and Al Brown. During his respite from the Wailers he also released two solo hits, ‘No Soul Today’ and ‘Who Done It’.
He was still looking for his personal musical direction, which he pursued for a handful of years in the trenches. He can be heard on an album credited to the Impact All-Stars. Released in 1975, the album is a collection of dub tracks recorded at Randy’s Studio 17. On his return to Jamaica he played on recordings by Big Youth, Culture, I Roy, and Al Brown, and had some success with solo singles “No Soul Today” and “Who Done It”. But in 1978 he rejoined the Wailers, playing on Babylon by Bus, Survival, and Uprising. He actually accompanied Marley on guitar in the recording of “Redemption Song”.
Marcia Griffiths, a member of Marley’s harmony group, the I Three, remembers Lindo as a “great musician”.
“He had a signature sound. Just like how you hear Jackie Mittoo, Wya had a different and unique sound. He was the best musician, and mi nah just say that because him dead — every musician can tell you. Bob Marley did love him sound, that’s why he had two keyboard players, Tyrone Downie and Wya,” she said.
“No keyboard man can shuffle like him. When you watch him, his hands look like it’s not going to the beat, but the sound is perfect.”
Griffiths remembers an incident involving Lindo on Bob Marley and The Wailers’ Uprising Tour at Madison Square Garden in New York, in September 1980.
“Wya was late for the Madison Square Garden concert. We had started without him. During the performance, Bob a look ’round for him; no Wya. Bob very uncomfortable. When we eventually saw him, he was trying to come on stage and the police beat him up. Bob was happy to see him when he got through to the stage but was very disappointed that the police punched him up. But when you talk about humility, that is Wya. I’ve never known a human being as humble as him,” said Griffiths.
Days after the gig, Marley collapsed in Central Park while jogging, and was told to immediately cancel the United States leg of the tour. He however, instead flew to Pittsburgh to perform what would be his final performance. Lindo was part of the band.
There is only one Earl “Wya” Lindo, and today he went home to join Bob, Peter, & Carly for a mystical jam session in Zion…this teenage musical genius, producer & visionary was the first invited to join Bob, Peter & Bunny when his reputation & talent reached Bob’s ears… We are so proud that Wya joined us in March 2017 for our UK tour…keeping TheWailers music & message alive…his contribution to Reggae and the music industry on a whole will never be forgotten… We love you brother Wya, and you shall never be forgotten, you are forever in our hearts… once a Wailer, a Wailer forever.
Lindo kept joining up with the Wailers for many years, while also pursuing solo projects as he lived in London, England. In March 2017 he completed a 15 date England Tour and was looking forward to completing a project that was titled:‘Earl Lindo Presents Bob Marley in Classical’. Sadly this project will never see the daylight as Earl “Wya” Lindo passed on September 4, 2017 from undisclosed illness. He had gone to the hospital with complaints about stomach pains and died within hours.