I Shot the Sheriff

12 hours ago
Albert Flores

"I Shot the Sheriff" is a song written by Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley and released in 1973 by with his band Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Bob Marley and the Wailers version

The song was first released in 1973 on The Wailers' album Burnin'. Marley explained his intention as follows: "I want to say 'I shot the police' but the government would have made a fuss so I said 'I shot the sheriff' instead… but it's the same idea: justice. +more".

In 1992, with the controversy surrounding the Ice-T song "Cop Killer", Marley's song was often cited by Ice-T's supporters as evidence of his detractors' hypocrisy, considering that the older song was never similarly criticised despite having much the same theme.

In 2012, Marley's former girlfriend Esther Anderson claimed that the lyrics, "Sheriff John Brown always hated me / For what, I don't know / Every time I plant a seed / He said, 'Kill it before it grow'" are actually about Marley being very opposed to her use of birth control pills; Marley supposedly substituted the word "doctor" with sheriff.


Eric Clapton version

Eric Clapton recorded a cover version that was included on his 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard. His performance of the song adds a soft rock to the reggae sound. +more Billboard described this version as being "a catchy goof of a winner" despite not containing a guitar solo. Cash Box called it a "smooth bluesy rocker with lots of guitar, keyboards and strong background harmonies. " Faring better in the charts, it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, his only US number one to date. In 2003, Clapton's version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Chart performance

Weekly charts

Chart (1974)Peak position
Australia (Kent Music Report)11
New Zealand1
South Africa (Springbok)9
Spain (AFYVE)12
US Billboard Hot 1001
US Billboard Hot Soul Singles33
US Cash Box1
US Record World1

Chart (1982)Peak position

Year-end charts

Chart (1974)Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)58
Canada Top Singles (RPM)11
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)50
US Billboard Hot 10076


Warren G version

"I Shot the Sheriff" is the lead single released from Warren G's second album, Take a Look Over Your Shoulder. Warren replaced Marley's original lyrics with his own, although Clapton's version of the song is sampled and R&B singer Nancy Fletcher sings the original chorus. +more The song was a hit in several countries. In the US, it peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the RIAA on 2 May 1997. It peaked at number two in the UK and at number one in New Zealand.

The official remix was produced by EPMD member Erick Sermon, it is based around EPMD's "Strictly Business", which also sampled Clapton's version of the song.

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (1997)Peak position
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)11
Italy (Musica e dischi)11
US Billboard Hot 10020
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles16
US Billboard Hot Rap Singles5

Year-end charts

Chart (1997)Position
Australia (ARIA)58
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)19
UK Singles (OCC)77
US Billboard Hot 10085

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