Bob Marley wrote the song and recorded it for his sixth album with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the 1973 Burnin‘. (Tosh and Wailer left for solo careers after this album.) Marley gave a voice to the people of Jamaica in a musical genre, reggae, the originated in Jamaica. In the story of the song, the narrator admits that he shot the sheriff in self-defense when the sheriff who hated him tried to shoot him. But they would be wrongly accusing him about any shooting of the deputy. Marley says that the song is about justice.
There have been numerous covers. Erick Capton took the song to #1 in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand in 1974. Other covers include versions by Warren G, Light of the World, Mary J. Blige, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, and many more.
On the track were Bob Marley (guitar, vocals), Peter Tosh (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Bunny WAiler (percussion, vocals), Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass), and Carlton “Carlie” Barrett (drums).