I Shot The Sheriff (5:26)

Cover of One Love: The Very Best Of...

From One Love: The Very Best Of... and 11 other releases

I Shot the Sheriff” is a song written by Bob Marley. The song was first released on The Wailers’ album Burnin’.

Eric Clapton recorded a cover version that was included on his album, 461 Ocean Boulevard. It is the most successful version of the song, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

During the controversy over the Body Count song “Cop Killer”, it was frequently pointed out that there were no similar complaints about Marley’s song even though they had similar themes.

On EPMD’s 1988 “Strictly Business” LP, the title track uses a sample of “I Shot the Sheriff” (Clapton’s Version).

In 1997, rapper/producer Warren G covered the song for his Take a Look over Your Shoulder (Reality) album. This version peaked at #20 on the Hot 100. It hit #1 in New Zealand.

In 2000, the song has been covered in a ska-punk version by Voodoo Glow Skulls on their album Symbolic. It was also covered by former American Idol contestant Jason Castro in 2008.

In 2004, Tom Morello, under his persona, The Nightwatchman, borrowed and changed lyrics from the song during his performance of Until the End, as part of the Axis of Justice Concert Series Volume The lyrics he used were: “…three times I shot the sheriff; and did not spare the deputy”. A studio version of the song was later released on his album One Man Revolution.


Both Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys” and Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” refer to a “Sheriff John Brown”. In “I Shot the Sheriff”, Brown is the shooting victim; in “Bad Boys”, one line asks “What’cha gonna do/When the Sheriff John Brown come for you”.”

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