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"Buffalo Soldier" is a reggae song written by Bob Marley and Noel "King Sporty" Williams, and recorded by Bob Marley and the Wailers. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became one of Marley's best-known songs. The title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as "Buffalo Soldiers", that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. Marley linked their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance.[1]

"Buffalo Soldier"
Single by Bob Marley & The Wailers
from the album Confrontation
Songwriter(s)Bob Marley & King Sporty
Bob Marley & The Wailers singles chronology
"Natural Mystic"
"Buffalo Soldier"
"Iron Lion Zion"

The song has been recorded by many other artists, including Cultura Profética (on their album Tribute to the Legend: Bob Marley), and Vanilla Ice (on his 2008 album Vanilla Ice Is Back!).[2]

The origin of the term "Buffalo Soldier" is theorized as given to black troops by Native Americans, who thought African Americans' hair felt and looked like a buffalo's pelt.[3][4] The name was embraced by the troops, who were well acquainted with "the buffalo's fierce bravery and fighting spirit".[3] The Buffalo Soldier's duties were settling railroad disputes, building telegraph lines, repairing and building forts, helping settlers find a place to live, and protecting the settlers from attacks by Native Americans.[3]

A similarly named and themed song by Flamingos was a minor hit in 1970. It reached #54 in Canada[5] [6]



The song's bridge, with the lyrics woe! yoe! yo!, was rumored to be inspired off the chorus from the Banana Splits' "The Tra-La-La Song", the 1968 theme from their TV show, written by Mark Barkan and Ritchie Adams. There has been no proof of this, and a story by the BBC in 2010 seems to cast doubts on this origin story.[7] There has never been any history of litigation connected to the chorus.[8]

In pop cultureEdit

The song is featured prominently in the 1990 film No Fear, No Die.

The song is referenced in the television show South Park, in the episode "Medicinal Fried Chicken".

The Japan national rugby union team made a parody of the song called "Japanese Soldier" for their size disadvantaged team at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The song was released by The Flying Pickets in their 1986 album "Flying pickets Live" and in some subsequent compilation albums.


  1. ^ Black Heretics, Black Prophets: Radical Political Intellectuals - Bogues, Anthony, Page 198, via Google Books. Accessed 2008-06-28.
  2. ^ "ASIN: B001I1TU2Y". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  3. ^ a b c National Park Service, Buffalo Soldiers (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on January 4, 2007, retrieved 2007-05-01
  4. ^ Brief History (Buffalo Soldiers National Museum) (PDF), 2008, retrieved 2009-11-30
  5. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - May 2, 1970" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Flamingos–Buffalo Soldier".
  7. ^ "Did the Banana Splits inspire Bob Marley?". BBC News Magazine. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  8. ^ Adam Conner-Simons, "Picking Up What They're Laying Down," Gelf Magazine, July 24, 2007.

External linksEdit