From Reggae Report, V10 #4 1992
Tyrone Downie is a familiar name and talent to avid followers of Bob Marley and the Wailers. I had always been interested in meeting this renown keyboardist who first played with the Wailers at the ripe “old age” of 13, so I was pleased to hear that he was looking forward to this interview with Reggae Report.
The Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers tour had just finished and Tyrone was in Miami chilling for a while. As a member of Ziggy’s all-star band, memories of Tyrone’s magical keyboards were once again revisited. For the veteran keyboardist, performing with the son of his good friend and mentor was like a page turning in musical history.
His obvious energy and passion for performing was manifested in a warm, engaging smile and the unmistakable twinkle in his eyes that greeted me when he opened the door. Our meeting place was at the home of a friend, complete with a studio where Tyrone could lodge part of his cumbersome collection of keyboards and other musical “toys.” Surrounded by equipment and a big screen television that was tuned to “Video Jukebox,” Tyrone Downie felt comfortable and in the mood to talk.
I went right to the big questions: What was it like being a member of the Wailers during his impressionable teen years? What was it like working with Bob? These answers and more were revealed throughout our two-hour conversation that was as amusing and informative as it was intuitive and insightful.
When Tyrone Downie “officially became a Wailer” in 1975, he already felt like one because he had done studio work with Bob Marley since 1969. It was during this session time, under the tutelage of Aston “Familyman” Barrett, that Tyrone first realized that he was frightened of these Wailers. “They were real tough guys,” he describes, “they were scary.”