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Bob Marley: Better Off Dread

As we continue to share with you articles documenting the life of Bob Marley, I am pleased to report that I finally got my hands on a near-mint copy of the Smash Hits issue which was published on August 7, 1980.

The interview occurs just one month prior to The Wailers’ two-night billing with The Commodores at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  As many of you know, it is reported that The Wailers draw a larger crowd as an opening act than do The Commodores as the headliner. 

Natural Mystic
Positive Vibration
Burnin’ and Lootin’
Them Belly Full
The Heathen
Running Away / Crazy Baldheads
Zion Train
War / No More Trouble
I Shot The Sheriff
No Woman No Cry
Could You Be Loved

I will continue to share rare interviews and press clippings throughout Bob’s birthday week.  Check back tomorrow for another gem!  Enjoy!



The Uprising Tour was a concert tour organised to support the album Uprising by Bob Marley & The Wailers. It was Marley’s last tour and the biggest music tour of Europe in that year.

The tour started at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, where Marley performed for the first time, on 30 May 1980, and ended at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 23 September 1980, which was Marley’s last concert. Two days prior to the Pittsburgh show, after playing two shows at the Madison Square Garden, Marley collapsed in Central Park while jogging, and was told to immediately cancel the U.S. leg of the tour, but he instead flew to Pittsburgh to perform one final performance. He was rumoured to go out on stage to say “Hi” to fans with Stevie Wonder during his performance of Master Blaster but this is not true. Marley went to a few treatment clinics in the United States, Boston, New York and Miami (Maybe Mexico). Each place gave him only a month to live. Marley then left for Germany to receive cancer treatment which eventually was not successful but prolonged his life 6 months more than any medical clinic in the United States predicted, as Marley died in May 1981.

The concert in Dortmund on 13 June has been broadcast in the 1990s by German TV station WDR in their Rockpalast concert series. Numerous other performances from the Uprising Tour have also been taped on video. The performance in Milan, Italy on 27 June, when Marley performed for about 120,000 people in the sold-out San Siro stadium, is still regarded in Italy as the biggest music event ever. While on tour Marley performed for the first time in Switzerland, Italy, Ireland and Scotland.

As an introductory theme, the concerts often started with a version of the Stalag riddim by Winston Riley, with keyboardist Tyrone Downie chanting “Marley!” over the riddim while Marley coming to the stage (therefore the intro is commonly called “Marley Chant” among fans). Most shows had a standard set list which closed with “Exodus”, and an encore set which usually ended with “Get Up, Stand Up”. There were also performances of an earlier song, “Trenchtown Rock”, which is not featured on any of Marley’s Island albums released at that time.

For the short U.S. leg of the tour Marley changed the set list to be similar to the one from the Kaya Tour in 1978: he dropped “Revolution” and “Natty Dread” and added songs like “Burnin’ And Lootin'” or “Them Belly Full” at the beginning, or “The Heathen” and the “Running Away” / “Crazy Baldhead” medley in the middle of the set list.

From show to show sometimes an additional song was edged in the middle of the set list, like “Lively Up Yourself”, “Kinky Reggae”, “Roots, Rock, Reggae”, “Coming In From The Cold”, “Bad Card”, “Kaya”, “Trenchtown Rock”, “We And Them”, “Three Little Birds”, “Talkin’ Blues” or “Forever Loving Jah”. Live performances of each of these songs happened very rarely during the tour.




  1. marco says:

    Thank you for sharing this article. Great work Michael!

    p.s. the photo is not by Kate Simon, is by Jill Furmanovsky

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