“Exodus: Movement Of Jah People”

Profile and Interview by Vivien Goldman
Photographs from the 1977 Exodus Tour

I seem to be sharing a lot of Vivien Goldman on this blog.  It’s not by design.  Vivien just found a way to present reggae music and its artists in such a way that no one else could.  She became a member of Marley’s inner circle in the late 1970s while he was living in London and recording his masterpiece, Exodus.

She has written several books about this period in her life, my favorite being “The Book of Exodus: the Making and Meaning of Bob Marley & the Wailers‘ Album of the Century” (Three Rivers Press).  You’d be doing yourself a huge service to pick up anything she penned on The Wailers or on reggae in the 1970s.  Please visit her website at http://viviengoldman.com/.

Today, I share with you a profile and interview she penned for Sounds.  It’s a really interesting look inside Marley’s inner circle in 1977.  The world of Exodus.  In 1977, Exodus was everything, and everything was Exodus.

Vivien Goldman, Sounds, 28 May 1977

ISN’T IT A NICE feeling… isn’t it a nice day…isn’t it a nice feeling…” Bob Marley croons, strumming on an acoustic guitar. He’s glowing, planted on the neutral modern sofa, in this sunlit hotel room.

Outside the sliding plate-glass windows there’s a balcony. Stand on the balcony and the river Isar rushes in a yellow froth far below, bubbling through spans of green leafy trees. We’re in – where are we again? Oh yeah. Munich. The Hilton.

It’s because, for example, Family Man never knows where the hell we are, that the Wailers travel in such a tight, closed unit. A real family on the road. It could be, and usually is, anywhere outside, but the Wailers world is secure. A mobile Jamdown in a Babylon. European Dread.

Looking around this light, spacious living-room of the corner suite, some of the family are taking their ease. This Saturday a.m. is brilliant. There’s a natural mystic flowing through the air, and everything happens crystal clear, because it’s Saturday morning, and it’s a day off the bus.

And everybody’s either singing, beating time on a coffee table, or just aware of the sweet music dancing like sunlight through the room. You can hear the river bubble, the hissing wind through the trees, you can hear the distant sound of cars on the highway, and above it all you can hear Bob singing this tune, mellow as the river, fresh/free as the wind.

The melody swirls like incense in the air, interlocking everyone into a mood of peaceful i-nity, breathing in synchompatibility. The tennis on the colour T.V. is turned down low. The positive vibrations are turned up higher than high. Photographer Kate Simon says, “Now I’m gonna shoot some black and white,” firmly switching cameras.

“Hey sister,” someone interrupts, “Why dontcha shoot some black and black. No offence.”
“That’s cool,” Kate says brightly, beaming like she’s just scored the cover of the National Geographic, “I’ll see what I can do.” And shoots off another dozen pics while she speaks. And when that film’s developed, there it’ll be, black on black.

Roland Kirk called it Blacknuss, playing just the black notes on the piano to make sweet rebel music, telling his brothers and sisters not to worry ’bout a thing, ‘cos every little thing’s gonna be alright.

Bob Marley and the Wailers call it Rastafari.  “We know where we’re going, we know where we’re from, we love in Babylon” (‘Exodus’)

I’VE BEEN on the road with all kinds of bands, and so’s Kate, but never on a tour quite as hermetically sealed as the Wailers. Mick Cater, the man- on-the-road from Alec Leslie who set up the tour (very efficiently, I might add,) had this to say:

“It’s easy to arrange a Wailers tour. All they want is a room where they can be left alone to eat their ital (natural) food, and not be hassled. The only reason why they’re staying in Hiltons and expensive hotels like that is because they’re the only places with private kitchens.”

The Wailers follow the Rastafarian way, they like everything to be natural.  And what’s a more natural part of life than FOOD? Right! Where other bands hit the night-spots, the Wailers chow down.

The Wailers are the exact reverse of junk food junkies. You can’t imagine Family queuing up at the Blue Boar for a plate of egg and chips, it just doesn’t work that way. No, the Wailers have Gilly and Inez in i-fficial green/yellow tour jacket ON THE BUS to take care of their stomachs.

Gilly looks like a cross between a swashbuckling seafaring man and a giant doorman from the Arabian Nights, with scimitar and turban. He rolls as he walks, and he has a way of looming over you as he talks that can be almost alarming. At gigs, he positions himself by Tyrone’s keyboards at the side of the stage, stepping solemnly in his imposing solar topee. Then he rushes to the kitchen and concocts those fabulous, indecipherable Jamaican brews. Standing sternly over the blender, he adds a splat of red, a smidgeon of brown, and whirrrrrrrs. Yumyumyum. What’s this, Gilly?

“This life protoplasm, mon.”

Seen. Not much answer to that, is there?

Like everybody connected with the Wailers, he’s fiercely loyal and protective. Inez was almost reduced to tears when she arrived at the Heidelberg hotel and found NO KITCHEN. (Turns out they had space reserved in the main hotel cookery, so everything, of course, turned out to be ALRIGHT. Don’t worry ’bout a thing.)

Neville Garrick, the Wailers’ willowy art director bred’rens hovers on the blender, eyes glued to the Life Protoplasm. As soon as the first lot’s done, he knocks a glass back, then says, “Where’s the skip?” and sprints solicitously off with the machine to ensure that Bob gets a generous dose of the life-giving juices.

Bob’s a man who spent a good few formative years being ripped off, and the result is, as Mick Cater said, “Where business is concerned, Marley doesn’t trust anybody. That’s the only way to be.”

Members of Marley’s entourage took the accounts of the last tour away from Alec Leslie’s offices for inspection before this tour. (AL Enterprises weren’t obliged to show the books, but they did quite happily.) Marley representatives cover every aspect of the money-gathering procedure – double-checking. And on this tour, everybody’s on the case.

Kate and I were sitting in back-up singers, the I Three’s, room one night – they share a room together on the road, kind of like the Girls Dorm – Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths were lounging around on the gilded beds, offering us delicious cold spicy chicken they’d saved over from supper.

Rita’s small, dark and lithe, with a cheeky snub nose and a warm, urchin’s smile. She was tidying away her clothes in a big cardboard drum she travels with, folding tops and skirts away. A red-green-gold Ethiopian lion flag drapes over the mock Louis Quinze lampshade, softening the light. They’ve made this baroque one-night stop-over room look homely, inviting.

I tell them how much I enjoy watching them onstage – they always look like they’re having a party going on in the corner of the stage, looking at each other, whispering between numbers and laughing, generally vibing each other up while they sing those frighteningly perfect-to-the-point-of- sublime harmonies.

Then towards the end of the set, perhaps during ‘Lively Up Yourself’, Bob dances over to them and flings an arm over Judy’s shoulders, swinging his hips against hers, eyes closed in concentration, singing along with them – “yes, lively up yourself,” … and sure enough, Judy, who all through the set has been performing with exquisite purity (tongue delicately poking out in concentration as she swings through the gun-shooting mime that accompanies ‘I Shot The Sheriff’) SPARKLES! even more. Marcia, pale moon-face serenely lovely, looks up and laughs. “Yes, we all brighten up when the big boss is around…”

And what she means by that is not that everyone suddenly starts working extra-hard when Marley’s at hand, just that his energy is inspirational. Serious t’ing, me a tell ya.

Kate said to Bob, “You know, Bob, when you smile it’s like seeing the sun come out.”

She’s right. It was like the sun emerging on the horizon when his head bobbed up behind Seeco’s seat on the bus when they brought out the champagne to celebrate Seeco’s birthday. The gnarled conga-player (he’s had a meteoric rise in the Wailers ranks – starting out as a roadie who kept on crashing out in the dressing-room, he was promoted to cook, but couldn’t, and finally metamorphosed into the nifty congas person he is) was grinning with shy pleasure, his girlfriend squirming with modest glee beside him, as the entire bus sang an affectionate, spirited HAPPY BIRTHDAY to him.

Neville says, “It’s funny, everyone has birthdays on this trip…”

Family’s sitting next to me, his usual blissed-out self, eyelashes curling tight over the swell of his cheek – and I comment on the – well, the nicer atmosphere on this bus.

“Yeah, mon,” Fams sighs happily, “there always is.”  The bus moves on through the night, bearing an extraordinary cargo of talent. Movement of Jah people. Backtrack to the interview, London, 30th April 1977. As a man sow shall he reap and we know that talk is cheap (‘Heathen’).

Another bright Saturday, this time in Chelsea.

I’m climbing the white wrought-iron spiral staircase to Bob Marley’s eyrie. When my head reaches floor-level, I see him asleep after a hectic soccer game in the park, on the beige couch, legs dangling over the end in their faded khaki trousers, militant-style, one foot bandaged from a soccer mishap.

On the colour TV the Saturday afternoon sitcom is playing away to itself. The floor’s covered in cassettes, a bag of cashew nuts. The room basks in late Saturday stillness, light rippling through the trees outside in waves that wash over Bob asleep.

Hmmm. Asleep. What to do…

Just then, Bob looks round. Sees me. Closes his eyes again, as if to sort out whether he’s awake or asleep. Decides to be awake. Sorry to disturb you, Bob, but you said I could call by…“Na. cool. One minute…”
…and vanishes downstairs to collect his thoughts.  Moments later he re-appears, and establishes himself cosily back on the couch, ready to talk…

“You see me here? The first thing you must know about me is that I always stand for what I stand for. Good? The second thing you must know about yourself listening to me, is that words are very tricky. So when you know what me a stand for, when me explain a thing to you, you must never try to look ‘pon it in a different way from what me a stand for.”

He’s an unusually participant interviewee, always asking me questions –

“What you think about now? How you feel in life? You feel like you gonna live, or you feel like you must die?…”

I feel … movement.

“You feel like you’re gonna live … that’s a good thing. You have people feel seh, yes bwaoy, they gonna die so nothing makes any difference …”

Basically, this interviewee’s as interested in checking out the interviewer as vice versa (and that’s unusual.) Reason being:

“Speaking truly, when people write about me, me no specially like it, y ‘know. Me no really deal with – make and break, that type of word. Whatever I have to say, I wouldn’t like it to be a personal thing, like what me think about meself.

“If you want to do some good, you should say some good things about rasta, so that people can get some enlightenment.  “Like today, we talk kind of personal, I don’t come down on you really with blood and fire, earthquake and lightning, but you must know seh that within me all of that exists too…”

Marley’s keen to remind me that he’s not just a man, he’s a spokesman.

Patiently, he explains (“every writer same procedure”) that he no longer regards it as excusable when writers’ refer to His Majesty Haile Selassie as ‘deceased’; Jah Live, and Marley reckons that it’s about time, with the quantity that’s been written about Rasta, that everybody realised it.

A brief crosscut.  Just ‘cos you’re a righteous man doesn’t mean you’re not human too. Two contrasting encounters illuminate Marley’s chemistry.

Munich. Marley’s manager, Don Taylor presents me with my first ever ceremonial bowl of steaming hot Irish Moss (a JA beverage).  The city electric spreads out far down below, nothing but shadowy concrete hulks strung about with necklaces of sulphuric fluorescent light. Bob scans the Telegraph, then the Express (Jah only knows how they got here,) and tosses them aside. Sighs, puts his feet in their broken-down Roman sandals (plus bandaged toe – some injury) on the chrome ‘n’ glass table.

What’s new in the papers, Bob?

“Nothing, mon. Same thing every day.”

He moves closer up the table.

“You like that?”

Sure I do, it’s great. I can’t begin to imagine what it is, but there’s cinammon and nutmeg, it’s faintly acrid and faintly sweet … Bob’s eyes are twinkling.

“That’s good for ya…you know that?” His eyes twinkle. “Make your pom-pom wet.” London

I think it was the night they were mixing ‘Heathen’, Bob was sitting on a tall stool by the studio kitchen bar, holding forth about politics with Mikey Campbell, Trevor and some other breddas, locks piled into a towering natural wool hat. Suddenly he swings towards me, pinning me with his eyes.

“Why you no write about Africa?”

Well, Bob, as you know I write for Sounds and they’re a rock ‘n’ roll paper which tends to stick pretty darn close to music. “Seen.” Nodding, meditative, eyes downcast. Looks up. “And if you did write about it, the editors would probably take it out.” Back to the interview

Me love talk about Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, y’know,” he continues, extra-animated, “me feel stronger. Me feel like a celestial thing happen to me, yes mon. Me just feel – different. So, see it, there come a stage where I check that these writers purely defend Babylon, just a different pure bloodclaat BABYLON. Although dem smile at me and laugh at me every day…”

“Ten, twelve years me a sing – am I always gonna sing about aggression and frustration and captivity and all dem t’ing? Well now, you think it’s my pride to really keep on doing that? The thing is, that must end when it must end. Me no gwan sing ’bout dat. Me is ahead. Not A HEAD of a people,” he cautiously interrupts himself, mindful as ever of possible misinterpretations of arrogance, “but ahead of certain things.

“How long must I sing the same song? I must break it sometime, and sing ‘Turn The Light Down Low’, and deal with a woman, talk to some LADY, y’know?” He laughs again, jubilant as – well, as I am, listening to Exodus, the new Wailers album.

When I interviewed Bob, he wasn’t sure of the final running order of the album. He was unaware of the ‘hard/sweet’ contrast between the sides, but very aware of the shift towards overt romance in his music.

“After the shooting … me never want to … to just fink ’bout shooting. So me just ease up me mind and go in a different bag. What me stand for me always stand for. Jah is my strength.”

Things are very different now from the days over a decade ago when he, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailers and Beverley Kelso started out as the Wailing Wailers, cutting tracks that seem incongruous in relation to his present-day persona – ‘What’s New Pussycat’, for example.

“Yes, Coxon [Dodd] our first producer, he tell me a do that. We do all the Beatles, too – ‘And I Love Her’.” glancing up in amusement from where he’s lying on the couch.

“At the time, it no seem strange. ‘Cos we not really trained singers, y’know, we just like singing – learn harmony, like the sound …”

The memories linger on. The decade old ‘One Love’ re-appears on Exodus, and a new version of the equally old ‘Kaya’ is among the dozen odd tracks in the can for possible inclusion in the next album.

“Sometimes me just like record old songs,” Marley comments simply. “Yes, mon, we used to have some nice times singing …”

But in 1977, we’re dealing with forward movement. An onward, upward motion flowing like the breezy rhythms of ‘Jamming’ – “Yeah, ‘jamming in the name of the lord’.” Marley quotes softly, “You can be sure of that … ‘right straight from yard!”, (i.e. JA).

“Every song we sing come true, y’know,” he adds abruptly. “It all happen in real life. Some songs are too early, some happen immediately, but all of them happen. Burning and looting happen – so much time, it’s a shame. The curfew. Yeeeeees mon, everything happen.

“Same thing with ‘Guiltiness’. ‘These are the big fish that always try to eat up the small fish, they would do anything to materialise their every wish . ..’ You always have big fish, ‘cos they manufacture them. That’s all. I don’t have to sing no more song, just that one line – just, ‘guiltiness rest on their conscience…”‘

Sitting in the placid Chelsea comfort, as Marley intones the biting lyrics, I flash back to an equally placid night in Jamaica. The evening cool settled on Marley’s Hope Road home, many brothers and sisters crammed into the tiny bedroom beneath Family Man’s floor. Bob’s sitting on the single bed, legs crossed at the ankle, in frayed demin shorts, playing an acoustic guitar. He’s staring into the eyes of a pretty young fan who stares transfixed as he sings a song so resonant and moving I’m practically slithering through the floorboards – potent Biblical lyrics about big fish eating small fish, who eat the bread of sorrow every day…

I couldn’t forget the song, and when I heard it again eight months later, propped up against a brown-carpeted studio wall in West London, the slither-effect comes back with double force. All the magic and mystery of Jamaica returns – a naturally mystic land, where duppies (ghosts) are tangible as gunmen. So I don’t blink when Bob says, “JA one of the heaviest places in the West spiritually, regardless of what a go on,” and tells me about the ‘Three Little Birds’ of the song –

“That really happened, that’s where I get my inspiration.” Birds sang to Marley, “don’t worry ’bout a thing, ‘cos every little thing’s gonna be alright…

Marley’s sung similar positive messages before now, but this sounds strangely slick on first hearing, in its chirpy, nursery-rhyme setting.

“The people that me deal with in my music,” Marley replies confidently, “them know seh what I mean. People are gonna like that song, people that don’t even know about Rasta, and it will make them want to find out more.

“Like with that song, ‘Waiting In Vain’. That nice tune, mon, that from long time back. It’s for people who never dig the Wailers from long time, ‘cos dem just couldn’t relate. So, what I do now is a tune like ‘Waiting In Vain’ so dem might like it and wonder what a go on. A different light. It’s movement time.”

Family Man is the band leader. He’s called Family Man (going strictly on vibes this time,) because he’s the perfect image of a family man, warm sympathetic, easygoing, humorous … in fact, he’s got eight kids, so the name fits in more ways than one.

I remember wanting to meet him in Jamaica and Dirty Harry the horn player, telling me, “Just follow the music. You’ll always find Family there.”

He was absolutely right. At home in Kingston, Family breaks into a sturdy, stepping dance, arms swinging rhythmically, head bent gazing down at the expanse of floorboards in this big, square light room; the wall backing on to the verandah is lined with records, tapes, record, cassette, and reel-to-reel equipment; Family’s dancing by huge box speakers. A piano, mikes, guitars and basses, no other furniture (except a little three-legged stool by the Revox, for threading ease, and a fridge full of fruit).

In Chelsea, Family dances on plush neutral carpet in a smaller room full of Habitat-catalogue furniture, round white tables and a fitted white slatted cupboard with built-in sink, crinoline lampshade … Family counteracts the antiseptic Holiday Inn decor with – what else? – music. A mini-mixer between the speakers, singles all over the white lace bedspread, ‘Black Skin Boy’ lying top of the pile … marked contrast to Bob’s portable mini- cassette machine.

And on the bus, Family’s toasting along to his massive portable cassette; a huge ends upturned grin slicing his silky apple cheeks, just like the man in the moon. He toasts and sings along to Dillinger’s ‘Bionic Dread’, the Meditations, Culture, ‘The Aggrovators Meet The Revolutionaries’, Rico’s ‘Man From Wareika’, and lots of rocker 45’s.

In the studio. Family takes control. You think he’s asleep, leaning back in the padded swivel chair, with hands folded on his turn. Then oh-so- slowly, he leans forward, eyes half-closed, rests a well-shaped finger on an echo button and pushes briefly. The music shifts, deepens, as Family closes his eyes with a satisfied half-sigh, and folds his hand on his turn again, settling back into meditating on the music like a shiny black Buddah.

And outside, Bob’s playing table football.

The table football machine’s a welcome variant in the on-the-road staples of life: food and colour T.V. The patterns repeat, like Wagnerian leitmotifs – after a while it seems like one long round of watching a Clint Eastwood movie on TV (when a hapless soldier falls from the top of a building in flames, Neville cries exuberantly, “See it deh: Catch A Fire!”, and everybody yells “EXODUS!” when the prisoners escape from the dungeons …) while tucking into ackee and saltfish and dumplings ‘n’ drinking that Life Protoplasm … so the table football machine becomes a cathartic mirror for the emotions of the day. When everything’s going well, when a track’s near completion, Bob plays a keen attacking game.

“Come, Aswad,” he shouts, “I-man gonna’ mash up all o’ dem!’ Angus Gaye jumps to the table, and balls fly towards the coffee dispenser as they rock the machine. At 5.30 in the morning, when ‘Jamming’ is into what seems its 18th mix, Bob muffs shot after shot. He’s tense; he can’t understand why every track takes so long to mix … “Energy low”, he mutters, as he turns away.

Other nights the energy’s so high it seems as if the whole studio’s about to fly on wings to the sky. Chris Blackwell says, “Call the skip, now,” and someone fetches Bob. Standing on the platform behind the mixing desk, arms folded against the wall behind him, Bob shuts his eyes and listens intently to the final mix of ‘Exodus’.

Suddenly his eyes snap into superlife; he beams, he shines with joy. It’s almost Jekyll and Hyde, Bob dances, transfigured, flinging himself in the free, athletic, MOTION that thrills onstage. Even here in the dark basement studio, it’s as if a Northern Lights aura throbs round every move. Everyone in the studio’s exultant, it’s a moment of triumph. Could anyone but a geriatric basket case with severe arthritis refuse this invitation to dance, dance, dance?

The ‘Exodus’ party carries over quite naturally to the stage. The band are called back (invariably; they’re magnificent) and perform a ravishing ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, that has the entire audience swaying in mass ecstasy, them the beat shifts to the intense pulse of ‘Exodus’, shaking the air like the tread of an army crossing the desert to Africa, to freedom, irresistible as the flow of the Nile to the sea.

Marley trembles like a pillar of fire on the stage, thundering a challenge that’s a command.




David Burnett Photographs

From his book “Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait Of Bob Marley

I have included several photos from the 1977 tour.  The photos are owned and copyrighted by the photographer, David Burnett.  They are published in his most excellent book “Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait Of Bob Marley.”

Road Manager Tony "Gilly" Gilbert. May 11, 1977

Bob Marley and The Wailers on their tour bus during their Exodus Tour in Europe. May 11, 1977

Bob Marley and the Wailers play soccer at a stadium in Brussels, during the Exodus Tour. Belgium, May 1977

Bob Marley during sound check in Paris, during the Exodus Tour. France, May 10, 1977

Bob Marley and The Wailers in Paris, France on their Exodus Tour in Europe. May 10, 1977

Bob Marley and The Wailers in Brussels, Belgium, on their Exodus Tour in Europe. May 11, 1977


The Impact Of Dub

The Impact Of Dub
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer


As the Jamaica Music Museum’s Sunday Grounation series closed at the Institute of Jamaica, East Street, Kingston, on Sunday afternoon, dub was on the agenda of Dr Dennis Howard and the Black as Coal band.

No singer was required (although, late in the day, two men from the audience took shots at Black Uhuru‘s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and General Penitentiary) as the latter played the rhythms to Worl’ a Reggae Music, Zion Train and Sun is Shining, among others. And Howard infused his presentation, ‘Black Ark Miracle in the Hometown Space Odyssey: The Influence of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Osbourne ‘King Tubby‘ Ruddock on Global Pop Music’, with the throb and sometimes other worldly sounds of dub as well as images of those pivotal to creating the sound.

Louis Chude-Sokei was among the scholars whose work Howard referred to during his lecture.

Jamaican Origins

Long before the global influence, though, came the Jamaican origins, Howard starting by saying he was saying “my little bit on this important music”. It proved to be much more than a ‘little bit’, Howard immediately identifying the new aspect of his research. “Very little emphasis has been placed on the contribution of Jamaican music to mainstream production techniques,” he said.

So dub was arguably accidentally started when Rudolph ‘Ruddy’ Redwood got a strange pre-release disc of a Paragons song done by producer Duke Reid. The engineer accidentally left off the vocals, but when Redwood played the track it was a big hit, as the fans enjoyed singing along immensely.

This was the genesis of the ‘version’, producers putting the rhythm of a song on the B side of a record instead of having to go to the expense of doing another song, Howard illustrating his point by playing the full song and then version of Danger in Your Eyes. “Some scholars have paid scant regard to the economic dimension,” Howard said.

After establishing U-Roy’s place in the deejay art form, including playing a cut of On the Beach with the Paragons and U-Roy – an early combination done by Treasure Isle, Howard zeroed in on the first of the men central to his lecture. Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock was one of the top engineers at Treasure Isle and had started experimenting with effects such as delay and slipping vocals in and out, Danger in Your Eyes again making the presentation cut, this time King Tubby style. That was identified as the Hometown Space Odyssey.

There were other engineers in dub, among them Errol Thompson and Keith Hudson, but Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was identified as the man who introduced a “layered sonic motif to dub”. Howard labelled that approach the “Black Ark Miracle”. In a recorded interview, Perry described how he approaches music like making a man, so the process in the studio is like “to make Melchizedek over”.

Global influence

Having identified Scratch’s approach as the Perry Methodology and King Tubby as using the Ruddock Technique, Howard moved on to the global influence of dub production techniques and methodology on a wide variety of music, including disco, hip-hop, trip-hop, jungle and electronica. So, dub, Howard said, “introduced the human ear to frequencies which were hitherto latent in some cases”. And the art of remixing took off.

Dub, he argued, is the first fully original music art form from Jamaica. In addition, it is distinctive as the engineer is the star of the show and the mixing board is the instrument.

Shep Pettibone was identified as one of the North American producers who was heavily influenced, Howard attributing the disco practice of extending a song through playing the rhythm to dub influence.

Among the artistes whose work dub-production techniques worked its way into are Sister Sledge and Diana Ross, Good Times and I’m Coming Out, two of the several popular songs that showed its influence.

Howard played I’m Coming Out to illustrate, advising that close attention should be paid to the beginning of the song. “Sounds like dub to me,” he commented.

After a clip of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, Howard said “sounds like something Scratch would do”.

Illustrating the Connection

It was on Tom Tom Club‘s Genius of Love, however, that Howard was able to illustrate the connection through an interview with engineer Stephen Stanley, the point of contact between genres being the Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas. As he played Genius of Love, Howard commented, “rub-a-dub”, Stanley explaining in the recorded interview how he had used dub techniques on the song.

Stanley commented that it was because he is from the Jamaican background that he got that inspiration.

Unlike his dub predecessors, Stanley organised the mix before the final mix, what he called “set it before you take it”, but which Howard termed ‘Preset Dub Bouncing’.

Howard spoke passionately to the lack of recognition for Jamaica’s dub originators, those who have created this “sonic tour de force”, the intention being that his research will lead to the establishment of a “technological canon”. And there was one last list of North Americans who have been influenced by dub techniques, among them Grandmaster Flash, Redman, Tupac and Busta Rhymes.

Howard was introduced by Clyde McKenzie, Sydney Bartley, bringing greetings on behalf of Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna. Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, hosted the Grounation.

Lee "Scratch" Perry at his studio. Kingston, Jamaica. March 1976

© David Burnett



Bob Marley and the Wailers Go Dutch: Live at Ahoy Hallen Rotterdam 1978

It is July 1978, and Bob Marley and the Wailers are still riding high off of their now-historic performance at the One Love Peace Concert in April, and their successful shows in the U.S. and Canada.  Of course it is unfortunate that both music critics and fans are panning the band’s latest album “Kaya”, but the show must go on.  Every Time.  The band trods through England, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and finally, the Netherlands.

For an album that is generally panned by critics as being”lightweight”, the supporting tour is a massive success.  The venues in Europe are even larger than they were the year before on the Exodus tour, The Wailers’ most successful tour at that time.  Marley has a little surprise for the European fans this year.  Al Anderson is back on-board after a stint with Peter Tosh’s backing band.  With two seasoned rock guitarists in Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, Marley’s Wailers are ready to play to a sold-out crowd at the Ahoy Club in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

My good friend Martijn Huisman has written extensively on Bob Marley and the Wailers in the Netherlands.  I could attempt to write a dissertation on the Ahoy Hallen show, however, Huisman has already written it.  So this is an excellent opportunity to showcase his work.

by Martijn Huisman

Click image to access Martijn Huisman’s project on Issuu

Huisman writes of Bob Marley and the Wailers in Babylon By Bus:  Bob Marley and the Wailers in the Netherlands:

“After having done shows all across Europe, Marley and the Wailers stopped by in the Netherlands in July to play at a sold out Ahoy in Rotterdam. Initially, organizer Mojo Concerts had planned and advertised a reggae festival with Marley and the Wailers headlining at the Groenoordhal in Leiden. In June, for reasons unknown, the venue was suddenly changed to the Ahoy in Rotterdam. On Friday July 7, the Ahoy was literally filled with blue hashish fumes as VPRO radio made recordings of the entire concert. The stage at the Ahoy was decorated with huge banners bearing the portraits of Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, and a flag in the Ethiopian Rasta colors red-green-yellow on which ‘One Love’ was written. Music magazine Oor had, like in previous years, sent a reporter. Harry van Nieuwenhoven had been replaced, however, by Pieter Franssen. Disappointing new album or not, Franssen rightly noted that Marley was the only Jamaican able to get the Ahoy sold out with his “reggae based on rock” music. The opening act for Marley was the British reggae band Steel Pulse. Most visitors could hear very little of the four songs, due to congestion at the entrances and the low volume at which the music was played. The more than nine thousand spectators had to wait a long time to see Marley, and were in the meantime ‘entertained’ with recordings from Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton concerts – resulting in massive whistling by the audience. At half past nine the lights suddenly went out. “The otherwise cold concrete Ahoy’ hall is immediately much more intimate. […] When the first notes of the well known ‘Them belly full’ are heard, no one sits on his seat anymore. Standing on chairs everybody sings along, led by the stirring movements of the Jamaican. It results in a great atmosphere”. Marley and his band would play sixteen songs that evening. Besides many older songs, ‘Crisis’, ‘Running Away’, and ‘Easy Skanking’ from the new album Kaya were played, although these were not appreciated by the audience very much who were clearly less interested in the new songs. As always and everywhere, the public in Rotterdam liked classics such as ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ and ‘Them Belly Full’ the most.

Pieter Franssen noted that especially during ‘Concrete Jungle’ – an old song from the 1973 album Catch a Fire – ‘War’, ‘Crazy Baldhead’, ‘Jamming’, ‘Get Up Stand Up’,” and the closing song ‘Exodus’ it was apparent how good and unparalleled Marley and the Wailers actually were. Like his predecessor Van Nieuwenhoven, Franssen was also more critical than most other journalists. At crucial moments during the concert the volume was suddenly much louder, ‘mass manipulation’ according to Franssen. Positive, however, was the excellent guitar work by Junior Marvin and Al Anderson and the appearance and ‘sweet voices’ of the I-Threes. “Wearing turbans in the rasta colors red, green and yellow, they were, as they stood there rocking, a feast for the eyes!” Conclusion: “hand clapping, lighters, loudly belting out and at the end frenzied dancing: the reggae party of the year”.”


Give thanks to Martijn Huisman for his project profiling Bob Marley and the Wailers in the Netherlands.  Please visit his blog at http://www.oneplanetoneworld.info/.


Bob Marley Photos: Detroit 1975

These amazing black and white photographs were taken by photographer Leni Sinclair on June 14, 1975 at the Detroit Showcase Theater.  Bob Marley and the Wailers were in Detroit to play a show in support of the Natty Dread album.

Please visit Leni Sinclair’s website at www.lenisinclair.com.

[slideshare id=11748204&doc=binder1-120225124029-phpapp01&type=d]


Bob Marley and the Wailers Rock Central Park: Live in NYC 1975

Bob Marley 1975

The Schaefer Music Festival was a music festival held in summer between 1968 and 1976 at the Wollman Skating Rink in New York City’s Central Park. The festival began in 1966 as the Rheingold Central Park Music Festival, the series was sponsored by F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company, brewer of Schaefer Beer.

Club owner and musician Hilly Kristal, owner of the famed CBGBs co-founded the series with producer and concert promoter Ron Delsener. Inexpensive tickets, which started at $1 in 1967 and rose to only $3 by 1976 contributed to the event’s popularity. The shows were very popular and usually sold out.  Hundreds would spend the entire day on line for a concert.  While the capacity of the Wollman Rink was usually limited to about 6,000 to 7,000 people, it is reported that Bob Marley’s performance in 1975 attracted about 15,000 people.

Schaefer 1975


Bob Marley and the Wailers, on tour promoting the Natty Dread album, played the opening summer show of the festival on a hot and muggy June 18, 1975.  The show is notable because  it is one of the few live performances featuring the only white member of The Wailers, harmonica player Lee Jaffe.  Jaffe plays harmonica on “Rebel Music (3 O’clock Road Block)” and “Talkin’ Blues”. 

In response to Marley’s performance, NYC Mayor Abraham D. Beame offered Marley the key to the city.  This ornamental key is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others the city wishes to honor. Evoking medieval walled cities whose gates were guarded during the day and locked at night, the key symbolizes the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.

1975 by Steve Emberton

I have included two concert reviews:  one from the New York Times and another from Phonograph Record magazine.  The reviews of the show are of value alone, as they shed much needed light on one of Marley’s early performances from the Natty Dread tour.

“Marley, Wailers Dig Into Reggae Roots” was published in the New York Times in June 1975.  “Bob Marley: Wollman Skating Rink, New York, NY,” written by rock journalist Mitch Cohen, was published in Phonograph Record in July 1975.

Please click here for a copy of the Schaefer Music Festival Program.


1. Presentation of NYC Welcoming Letter
2. Bob’s Intro
3. Trenchtown Rock
4. Slave Driver
5. Burnin & Lootin
6. Concrete Jungle
7. Kinky Reggae
8. Midnight Ravers
9. Lively Up Yourself
10. No Woman No Cry

11. Rebel Music
12. Them Belly Full
13. Natty Dread
14. I Shot the Sheriff

15. Talkin Blues
16. Get Up Stand Up*

January 25, 2012

So I just received the coolest artifact through email.  The Wailers’ harmonica player, Lee Jaffe, who I featured in this post, sent me his and Bob’s hotel receipt for a weeklong stay at The Chelsea Hotel in NYC.  It appears that this is for the hotel stay in 1973 when they played several shows at Max’s Kansas City in support of Bruce Springsteen.

Give thanks Lee Jaffe.  This is a priceless gem and a nice addition to this blog entry:

Lee Jaffe’s and Bob Marley’s Hotel Receipt

Schaefer 1975


Schaefer 1975


Schaefer 1975

© Lee Jaffe


Schaefer 1975

Schaefer 1975

Schaefer 1975 © Lewton Cole


Schaefer 1975 © Lewton Cole


Give thanks to my good friend Emmanuel Parata of www.bobmarleyarchive.com for supporting the blog and sharing his archived photos.

For more on Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Schaefer Music Festival, including personal testimonies, please visit Emmanuel Parata’s Memories of Jah People.

Also, many thanks to Marco Virgona of www.bobmarleymagazine.com for sharing a copy of the Program.


Bob Marley ‘Like It Is’: Interview with Gil Noble 1980

Today I share with you an interview from Bob’s last tour of the United States in September 1980.  He appeared on “Like It Is” with Gil Noble.  Gil Noble is an American television reporter and interviewer. He was the producer and host of New York City television station WABC-TV‘s weekly, “Like It Is”.  The program focused primarily on issues concerning African Americans and those within the African Diaspora.

Bob Marley and the Wailers were in NYC to play Madison Square Garden with The Commodores on September 19th and 20th, 1980.  Bob participated in many interviews during his stay in NYC, most of which have been shared on this blog.

Much like the UCLA 1979 interview, this is one of the most in-depth and detailed interviews that Marley participated in, lasting a little under 30 minutes.

The video footage of the interview has been shared in bits and pieces on the web.  I have included it here in its entirety. This has seen a significant upgrade since it first started circulating.  Enjoy!

Bob Marley on “Like It Is” with Gil Noble


Natty Dread In Babylon: Bob Marley Interview 1975

My good friend and avid Bob Marley collector and historian Marco Virgona is a regular contributor to the Midnight Raver blog.  Today, he donated this 1975 interview to the archives. 

Marco is partial owner of www.bobmarleymagazine.com, the best site on the web for finding information on Bob Marley.

This interview was published in the Ann Arbor Sun on June 20, 1975.  Enjoy!

Click here to read interview from the Ann Arbor Sun.

Bob Marley 1975

© Neville Garrick


Back-A-Yaad With Bob Marley: Interview 1979

Today I share with you another brilliant piece by noted music journalist Vivien Goldman.  This interview with Bob Marley was conducted at Marley’s home at 56 Hope Road.  The interview was initially published in Melody Maker on August 11, 1979.

Vivien Goldman is, without a doubt, my favorite music journalist.  She covered Marley like no other because she really had a deep love for the man and his message.  This is abundantly clear in each of her pieces.  This is the most in-depth and detailed interview ever conducted with Marley.  Enjoy!

Click To Read On Issuu

Bob Marley:  In His Own Backyard
By Vivien Goldman
Melody Maker, August 1979

AS YOU drive through the white-pillared gates into the grounds of 56 Hope Road, the first thing you notice is that the road doesn’t have any holes. Even here, uptown in New Kingston, the road surfaces are pitted and scarred, as if someone had scratched their spots; great boulders are kicked casually into the gutter. All the damage, we’re told, is because of the recent flood; but the fact remains that in Bob Marley’s yard, the tarmac is new, shiny, and unblemished.

One side of the house is a big record shop, in an airy room. There are “Babylon By Bus” and “Rat Race” and “Tuff Gong” tie-dye T-shirts hanging on the walls, the most Western-style merchandising techniques I’ve ever seen in Jamaica. There’s even a fanzine section on the counter, selling the Wailers fan club booklet, including ital recipes, and Rasta Voice magazine.

The Tuff Gong outfit is ensconced in what used to be Bob Marley’s house. Other Wailers also used to live in the white mansion. The pillars at the front of the drive still say Island House – that’s because before Marley took over, it was Island Record‘s HQ. They don’t have a a Jamaican base any more; in its place, Marley’s own record company.

The yard has become a car park. While the whole island is full of cannibalised cars, bits of cars grafted onto other cars, as car and spare-part import bans reduce the available transport still further, there’s a remarkably high collection of new, functional cars – including the BMW, the Wailers’ favourite motorised vehicle (just check the initials).

The “straight” world of Jamaica is still making life difficult for the Dreads, but here at ex-Island House it’s Rasta Country. Men and women sit on the steps, lean up against trees; Tuff Gong Records is obviously where the action is in Kingston these days.

INSIDE THE house is the ultimate proof that Marley, the local boy made good, is bringing it back home. A 24-track studio – there’s only one other on the island, at Harry J’s. Channel One has only just gone up from four to 16 tracks.

And what a studio. Very small, but the style…someone says it looks like Miami’s Criteria Sound, but my terms of reference tell me that the stripped pine walls are strictly West Coast style. More roots; reggae has gone well international.

In the control room, watching the vertical strips of light that indicate the recording levels on each track flickering up and down, are Bob Marley and his brothers and sisters. Alex Sadkin has flown in from Miami to work with Bob, and Tuff Gong has poached Treasure Isle’s engineer, Errol Thompson. They’re mixing a new song: “Step it natty, step it inna – Zimbabwe…soon we’ll find out who is – the real revolutionary…”

Marley takes time out to talk. We go round the house, through a big beautifully-carved wooden door, into an office. And that means a regular, Western-style office with new office furniture, even IBM typewriters, and phones with intercom systems.

It’s astonishing how much more direct and militant your new tunes are than Kaya…

This is getting to the point. What they said about Kaya is true, but you can’t show aggression all the while. To make music is a life that I have to live. Sometimes you have to fight with music. So it’s not just someone who studies and chats, it’s a whole development. Right now is a more militant time on earth, because it’s Jah Jah time. But me always militant, you know. Me too militant. That’s why me did things like Kaya, to cool off the pace.

If you were interested in being heard by an international market, maybe they were frightened off by militant music…

Of course, especially the parents.

Did you feel under pressure to record for the States market, for example?

To tell you the truth, I don’t even think that way. I just think more of an inner creativeness. Inna my chest. I don’t make a tune specially for this and this; if the feeling comes nice into my soul according to a certain vibration – me no really a prostitute. Me just respect people like Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan for how they do with themselves. They respect their own talent, that means where they are and who they are. It’s that that people have to want, you dig, ‘cos the people don’t want to be pleased, they want to please someone, you dig, it goes both ways. So it’s no use getting in this mechanical bag, because creativeness leave if you do that. That’s why plenty of artists come just for a time and then you hear no more of them, because them no really be themselves. Because when you are yourself, boy, that’s it, I think…

Were you ever annoyed at Rasta being used as a sales gimmick?

As far as I’m concerned the record company might try and show the people a gimmick – we don’t think we play at a place and tomorrow everyone is Rasta. It’s not like that. It grows. You never can tell which vision you’re going to get, or if God is going to call you. So Rastafari is God’s new name, Head Creator. Africa is the cornerstone to the realisation of people’s unity.

You just went to Africa for the first time, after trying to get a visa for ages. Was it like you’d imagined?

When I got there it was the same thing I felt about Africa here, the same as I’d always imagined it would be. But nicer.

How nicer?

Just nicer in terms of living, development, opportunity. When you go to Africa you see how useful you can be to mankind.

You mean they need a lot of help out there?

Not in respect of the material element. It’s like – Africa awaits its creators. It needs a lot of people who know how to do things. This is just a little studio. Africa is capable of plenty studios, but it’s up to who really wants to deal with it.

Some people in England regard Rasta as another offshoot of the colonial mentality, something that holds people down.

What one man thinks is great. But only a fool leans upon his one understanding. The truth is there. King Solomon and King David are the roots of black people and the roots of creation – they are Jacob’s people. So when a black man says that Rasta is colonialist, he’s turning it the other way in a sense of diplomacy, he’s putting down his own thing, because he’s learnt how to do it. Who teaches him? You dig what I’m saying?

Just like they say that it’s more important to confront the reality in England, for example, than to think of going to Africa.

I could agree with that, but why fight to stay in a place that’s dirty, where the rivers are polluted? Why stay in a place where if God shook two earthquakes, all these stones are gonna fall on you and kill you? Africa for Africans at home and abroad. Like England for English people, America for Americans, Asia for the Chinese…but we’re not saying that people can’t mix together. But this world is funny, because you claim you’re white and I claim I’m black, and we have a fight, because if you’re not sensible, it becomes a barrier. But the truth is the truth, your father’s name is Noah and my father’s name is Noah and Shem’s father’s named Noah, so we all three people come from Noah so we’re the same people. But right now it’s just a few who search out their roots.

Do you feel you could exert a lot of power in Jamaican politics?

Me can do a lot of things, anywhere.

But, for example, after Claudie Massop (one for the organisers of last year’s Peace Treaty in Kingston) was shot by the police, how did you feel about the Peace Concert?

I and I is RASTA, and the struggle continues.

But where do you struggle? Do you feel that a Rasta musician should never get directly politically involved?

I don’t involve myself. We don’t support either the JLP or the PNP. Rasta is different. Claudie was my brethren. And a lot more people. But we know that we are Rastafarians, that we have something to offer. We have the 12 Tribes of Israel, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Theocratic Government. If a youth wants to go out there and fight politics, he can go. We have something that demands rights if you stand where me stand. If you don’t do that, you’ll be dying in the streets with your dreadlocks on, because you’re not defending the thing you must defend. You can’t be strong, you must be a weakling. It’s just the truth. We defend His Majesty’s philosophy. It’s not political – it’s only words that make it political. It’s life – people – action.

When you sing about militancy what do you expect people to do?

I expect if you’re living by the gun, if gun is the fight, then FIRE gun. If where you come from, you fight with sticks and stones, then fight with sticks and stones. If the fight is spiritual, then fight spiritual, because everywhere the fight goes on. We don’t have any alternatives. If a man fights you with machine guns and you throw stones, then – machine gun for machine gun! So the struggle continues. A lot of people defend South Africa, some secretly, some openly. A lot of white people defend South Africa, and when you keep the black man down in South Africa you keep him down all over the earth. Because Africa is Solomon’s goldmine. So – war! Either I and I lives, or no-one lives. You know what the big fight is? It’s that black people – and only black people – mustn’t say the truth about Rasta.

I disagree – you can get lots of information about Rasta.

Of course, but say you love Rasta, and see a chance whereby mankind can set up something new to live by so that we can all say: THIS is how we want to live – the system won’t support that. If all the leaders were to get up tomorrow morning and say they defend Rasta, what do you think would happen? But all of them can get up tomorrow and die. (Rastas reject the concept of death, won’t attend funerals.)

In the mid-Sixties you worked in a car factory in Wilmington, Delaware. What was that like?

As a youth I was always active, never lazy. I learnt a trade, welding, so dealing with those things is part of my thing. I enjoy dealing with parts, part-work, and I never really mind because I just did it as much as I wanted to do it. Any time I felt fed up, I didn’t really look for a job. I come from country, and country is always good. You grow everything. You don’t really have to go out there and kill yourself to get a place or have money, you can eat and bathe and make clothes and build your own house, but in a strange land you can’t find a place or settle down to find a way to leave. The best way out is to organise and leave.

Do you regard Jamaica as a strange land?

Jamaica is a place we know, but the system change and it a gets strange. It just change, and get strange…because I’m tired of saying it, I and I are tired of saying this: RASTAFARI! I and I not trying to push myself; it’s just the truth, God knows…that’s why sometimes I don’t even bother to talk because it’s just a waste of time, but I still have the urge. But when I talk to People, it seems sometimes we’re not on the same wavelength. From Pope Paul’s time, we knew we’d be under pressure. White man doesn’t have any sympathy with Rasta, but he has to hear that, and perish in his own fornication that he deals with, his own fuckery and his own atomic and his own S.A.L.T….(Marley’s voice sneers – he’s referring to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, and punning it with salt, which Rastas are forbidden to eat according to their dietary laws.) We haven’t really come to save the white nation. But they are some of the people on earth, and they have to hear the truth. The white man has nothing he can give us, you know – only death. That’s why I & I is Rasta, because we know death has nothing against I & I.

But you’re working within those white man’s systems. Would you have got to be an international star if Chris Blackwell (head of Island Records) was a black man?

Watch me. If I wasn’t capable of being something…Chris Blackwell didn’t help me. I had to work hard while Blackwell flew out and enjoyed himself. But he had the contacts at the time that we felt we needed, and perhaps we did. But Blackwell did a lot for himself. I remember a time when he had 19 Jamaican acts signed, and before my days he wouldn’t touch one. The pressure of the way we had to work was why the Wailers (Marley’s referring to the trio of himself, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone) didn’t agree, because we didn’t get any help, we were out on tour under some steep conditions that first time…because if it was my raasclaat I’d have blown up the whole earth already, with its corruption. It’s just pressure from all sides, we’re born to get pressure, we come upon the earth to get pressure. You get pressure from your family, pressure from strangers, pressure from all over. So you’ve got to be mindful.

One of the biggest pressures on you is being THE international reggae messenger. That’s why I felt ‘Running Away’, where you defended yourself against people accusing you of doing that when you left Jamaica for Miami after they tried to shoot you, was Kaya’s most penetrating, sincere track.

People don’t understand that we live in this earth, too. We don’t sing these songs and live in the sky. I don’t have an army behind me. If I did, I wouldn’t care, I’d just get more militant. Because I’d know, well, I have 50,000 armed youth, and when I talk, I talk from strength. But you have to know how you’re dealing. Maybe if I’d tried to make a heavier tune than ‘Kaya’ they would have tried to assassinate me because I would have come too hard. I have to know how to run my life, because that’s what I have, and nobody can tell me to put it on the line, you dig? Because no-one understands these things. These things are heavier than anyone can understand. People that aren’t involved don’t know it, it’s my work, and I know it outside in. I know when I am in danger and what to do to get out. I know when everything is cool, and I know when I tremble, do you understand? Because music is something that everyone follows, so it’s a force, a terrible force. Someone like me, now – if I want to be a loudmouth, I’m a loudmouth, and someone can come out one day and BOOGAAAA! – shoot me. So, I’m a loudmouth – and then I’m cool. Then I’ll come out again. So someone might say, Yes, we have to defend this youth, because he deals with the right things, or else I go – WAWAWAWAWAAAAAAA! And one day – know what I mean? But I am a man that can sing any song, because I can never change. I’ve even tested myself to see if I can change, and there is no change.

I don’t know what you mean – everyone changes, all the time.

When I sing a tune like ‘Kaya’, do I change? No. I’m more…wickeder! That’s how the earth gets tricked. There are a lot of people just come upon the train, and me just say, right, it’s this direction I’m going in, let’s see who follows me, and who does their own thing. So I just say “KAYA!” and everybody just goes so, and now I come back and say “BLACK SURVIVAL!” and – pure idiots, all they do is follow. Not one of them is a leader, they’re all followers. So I hear people say, Bob Marley’s gone soft, all he is, is a traitor to Bob Marley’s cause. But how could they know who Bob Marley is, and how could Bob get soft? Bob grow inna this thing, the things that Bob sings about are his life, it’s how he lives. I couldn’t get any education that could change my way of thinking, you dig? I live the way I live. My struggle can never ever change. If it could have changed, it already would have, because I’ve been everywhere. I live in Miami the same way I live in Jamaica. But people don’t understand that we’re in contact with our own people, everywhere we go, our people come. It’s not the place, it’s the people. In Miami, my brethren are there, same way. So it’s not a feeling like children waiting for Christmas, we’re just natural people, soldiers, we just live a war every day. Because just imagine being a Rasta in this world which doesn’t like Rasta. We could be enjoying being something else, but no. We say – “WE ARE RASTA!”

How come you’re aware of the danger of being assassinated when you say there’s no such thing as death?

Hold on, now. You think you can go out there and lay down in front of the car and let it run over you? If I go outside and see the big bus coming and put my head underneath it, what do you think will happen?

Your head will be crushed. And what will you be then?

(yells) DEAD! This is where people make a mistake. They say that the flesh doesn’t value anything, but that’s the biggest lie. This flesh is what you’ve got, what God put inside you is your life. That’s the way I think, that’s the way I’m organised, because I don’t stray from my roots, and my roots is God. But sister, I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying a man can be dead in his flesh and his spirit still lives, but I respect my flesh too, and I know my spirit and what it’s like…

So when you say you don’t believe in death…

(firmly) I don’t believe in death neither in flesh nor in spirit.
But I don’t understand, because one minute you’re saying you don’t believe in death, and the next minute you say you’ll be shot, and…

Yes, but you have to AVOID it! Some people don’t figure it’s such a great thing, they don’t know how long they can preserve it.  Preservation is the gift of God, the gift of God is life, the wages of sin is death. When a man does wickedness he’s gone out there and dead.

Oh, I thought you felt death didn’t exist at all.

Death does not exist for me. I truly know God. He gives me this (life) and my estimation is: if he gives me this, why should he take it back? Only the Devil says that everybody has to die.

Someone from Inner Circle told me that the money from the Peace Show never got to all the right people. Did you know about that?

All I know is that it went to everyone that wanted it. Too much people involved, too much people have too much thing to say and they don’t know anything. So many people go on about how they’re roots, and when did you last see them in the ghetto? They hide from the ghetto, they’re not in contact.

But you must find it difficult to keep in touch with the ghetto…

(incredulous) Find it difficult? Watch now. You look into my yard. It’s a ghetto. This is a ghetto you’re looking at. Look out there. I’ve just brought the ghetto uptown. My thing is, why must I stay in one place every day of my life, and all the days of my life I have to run from the police? Look in any other yard along the road and see if you see any one of my brethren out there in any other yard. When I lived in the ghetto, every day I had to jump fences, police trying to hold me, you dig? So my job all the while was to try to find one place where the police wouldn’t run me down too much. So I don’t want to stay in contact with the ghetto, in contact with the ghetto means in contact with a prison, in contact with everything that’s bad all the while, not the people. When the law comes out, they send them into the ghetto first, not uptown. So how long does it take you to realise – boy, well they don’t send them uptown, y’know! So we’ll make a ghetto uptown. EVERY DAY I jumped fences from the police, for YEARS, not a week. For YEARS. So me get afraid now, me have to make some type of move. You either stay there and let bad people shoot you down, or you make a move and show people some improvement. Or else I would take up a gun and start shoot them off and then a lot of youths would follow me, and they’d be dead the same way. I want some improvement. It doesn’t have to be materially, but it can be freedom of thinking.

But the material things have helped you to spread a little bit of freedom out to a few people, but it hasn’t helped all the people in the ghetto. Don’t you think that only more direct political action can do that?

Something more direct would be if Queen Elizabeth would take her raas away from Jamaica, take away her Constitution, call away those ways of life they have down here.

I thought that was supposed to happen when Jamaica became independent.

But it never happened. We still have a Governor-General. No one gives Jamaica people a chance, that’s why we say that the earth is corrupted and everyone has to die and leave we. It’s a selfish way of thinking, but… (mutters) fuck it…how long will they pressure we? We are the people who realise the place where they thieved us from, so we say, AH, you took us from there, AH, this is what we are. But they still tell us, no, no, this is what you are! This is what you must be…This yard (house), they call it Freedom Ground. Hardly anything can happen here. The greatest thing that could happen would never happen, so you could say God has we for a purpose and a reason.

‘Ambush In The Night’ contains the clearest references you’ve ever made to colonialism.

(absently) We always try. There’s a lot of good music we have in there, a whole heap of good stuff…I don’t like to talk, because the way I talk, I don’t know if I can be understood. Or maybe somebody might understand me the wrong way. There’s only one thing we have to say, that is, we are Rastafarian people the same way some people are Catholic. Some people are this, some people are this. They always want to interview I and I, but they don’t want to know what we really want to say. It (Rasta) becomes unreal, like something we try and make…raas…truth is like food, man – when you say food you know you mean food, and when you say truth, same way. You know, Vivien, sometimes me no get over too straight, because you are a woman, and you see things…me understand how you see things, but I can’t please you by talking to make you feel pleased. Me just have to show you say – you have to be strong.

Since you’re always covering old tunes, I thought you should cover the tune ‘Rude Boy Get Bail’. It’s still so relevant.

Well, Bunny did that in ’66, when I was in America, but me did other rude boy songs – that rude bwaoy business, bad, bad music. Only them shouldn’t have said “rude boy”, them should have said “Rasta”. You dig me? But in them times, me didn’t know Rasta. Something was going on, you felt it, and didn’t know if you were bad bad or good good – then I understood it’s good, you’re good – it’s Rasta!

When, or what, made you realise it was Rasta, not rudeness?

What is there to benefit from badness? I wondered, I looked at it and thought, boy, bloodclaat, if I thump this man here I feel the contact too. And then I said, it’s the same God that lives in my hand lives in me, and that means that it’s not him I thump, it’s God I’m really thumping. So I used to wonder about this human feeling business…the whole thing is Rasta. The way I tell you, it’s a whole experience, but you break it down and it’s just – Rasta.

Did you used to play lots of gigs in the early days?

Not a lot, just like Christmas morning and Easter, we’d be there up at the Carib Theatre. But we was always the underground, always the rebels. We came from Trenchtown. So you’d hear about Byron Lee and all that society business, but we came from down so named WAILERS, from TRENCHTOWN. So we stay, and we’re glad of it. You’ve got to be someone.

So now you get society knocking on your door…

Turn them off. Tell them to come another day.

Which bit of your career has meant the most?

I love the development of our music, that’s what I really dig about the whole thing. How we’ve tried to develop, really try to understand what we’re trying to do, you know? It grows. That’s why every day people come forward with new songs. Music goes on forever.

BEFORE WE leave, Marley asks why I haven’t tried to interview Family Man (I have tried) or one of the other Wailers. “It’s always me who has to talk,” he says, “and I don’t dig it either, because it gets me into problems…”

© Vivien Goldman, 1979

Bob Marley 1979



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Interview with Kevin McDonald and Exclusive Clips from “Marley”

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Ziggy Marley Press Interview

Thanks to my good friends at www.bobmarleymagazine.com for sharing the link to this footage.