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Rebel Music - The Bob Marley Story

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Jah, Rastafari.
Say Judah rule the heart, you know.
I mean, when you talk, when you speak of Rastafari, it touch the heart.
It is stand up and talk my rights.
I know what that is.
See? And I don't care who the guy is.
Because my right is my right. Like my life. You know?
All I have is my life.
Though Bob Marley has sold some 300 million recor ds,
the world's first reggae superstar faced violence, assassination and exile.
He became the spokesman for Jamaica, his tiny Caribbean island
buffeted by global politics and domestic strife.
He could be a most dangerous man.
He could be on the ''most wanted'' list.
Music was his weapon. Music was his M-16.
His guitar was his weapon that... Each time he gets that way,
he was able to express: bang, bang, bang.
He was like a verbal newspaper for those who couldn't read
and didn't know what was going on in the government in Jamaica and the world.
He had never had a family life, or just rooted to one person.
He grew up here, there, everywhere.
His mother a little bit, not his father at all.
No one person that he was ever close to for his entire life.
I think the measure of the impact of Bob's career on the world
can be seen by the extraordinary attention paid to him
at the turning of the millennium.
The New York Times called Bob
''the most influential artist of the second half of the 20th century.''
His song ''0ne Love'' was chosen as the anthem of the millennium by the BBC.
Perhaps the most important honour, and most unexpected,
came from Time magaZine,
which chose Exodus as the best album of the 20th century.
And remarks like those of Jack Healey, the president of Amnesty International,
who said that everywhere he goes in the world today,
Bob Marley is ''the symbol of freedom''.
Present... arms!
In the euphoria of independence,
music became the mouthpiece for young Jamaicans like the teenage Bob Marley.
It was their way of breaking with the colonial past.
What Bob expressed,
that confidence,
I suppose at some point you could say,
an arrogance against the establishment.
What Bob expressed
was quite widespread among young people in Jamaica.
Bob's first commercial recor ding embodied that cheerful sense of rebellion
in the new Jamaican rhythm called ''ska''.
Now, Bob's particular expression of it has to be explained, I think,
obviously in terms of his background.
And it's tough, living in the city.
You know, you have to struggle at every level.
Bob had entered Kingston as a child in the late '50s.
He arrived with his mother alongside thousands of migrants
from the Jamaican countryside.
He grew up streetwise in the shanty district of Trench Town,
determined to make a career in music.
Trench Town was a struggle living,
where you would get up and you hear people fight every day.
As Bob said ''You get up. Why do you quarrel every day?''
''You're saying prayers to the devil, I say.''
He was appealing
because we were coming out of this situation where,
as they say, you have to box without a hard mouth to survive.
We have days when we had to go in the dump looking for food.
We couldn't afford to buy records, so we listened to the radio.
And anything the radio play is that we hear.
So I wasn't really into them thing. I was really into, like,
I call it...
spiritual music.
You know? Cos it get more revolutionised.
There was something about Bob that you could see.
His stubbornness, his fight.
You could see he was at war, in other words. You know?
He was... Few times you would find him at ease.
But he was always at that guitar thing.
It's his guitar, it's his music, it's what he has to say.
In the early '60s, music offered the quickest route out of the ghetto.
Young singers had to bluff their way through first auditions,
composing and performing tunes about the scandals and political trickery
of the community around them.
You had to be strong, you know,
because the survival game wasn't one that was a easy road.
It's a rocky road, a tough road.
But if you keep lifting weights, then automatically you'll get strong.
You come from a community that is people always crying and moaning
and weeping and wailing.
Small harmony groups like the Wailers borrowed their first instruments
and sold their songs to unscrupulous producers, who paid them a few pounds
and kept all the roy alties.
The original teenage Wailers group
included both Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh.
There was a time when we were what you would call imperfect in the music.
I mean, while learning that, we find out that we had a voice that could...
me and Bunny together had the kind of voice that could decorate Bob's music
and makes it beautiful.
So we just did that wholeheartedly.
He was handsome. He's still handsome. Wherever he is.
But when I looked at him, I says ''Whoa, what a nice-looking guy.''
I didn't think I would like a guy with his complexion,
cos I was always after tall, dark and handsome.
I can recall Bob asking me to use shoe polish in his hair
to make it more African,
more black.
So when I found myself seeing him, I think sympathy came first.
Sympathy came first, and then, him being the type of person that he is,
you wouldn't have a choice but to really give your heart out to him.
Bob was always first in the studio and last to leave,
cajoling the others to rehearse through the night.
They practised at Studio 0ne, owned by the legendary Coxsone Dodd.
Well, at that time, we had a lot of rehearsal.
Everybody was hyped up
and really sure of themselves.
So we had a meeting and I selected Bob to be the leader.
Because whenever the sound is not right, you could see that facial expression.
When he's not happy and shows it, everybody try to fall in line.
Bob was very strict in terms of, if you have a rehearsal, you have to be on time.
You don't laugh in rehearsals, don't play around in rehearsals.
This is a serious thing and, if you want a future, you have to work for it.
But the kind of music the Wailers were working at couldn't get any airplay.
The radio stations were firmly stuck in the colonial era,
playing British and American imports.
So giant sound systems toured the island,
taking the music direct to the people.
Here comes Bob Marley and the Wailing Wailers and ''Simmer Down''.
''Simmer Down'' was recor ded in the morning, pressed in the afternoon,
and was playing on Coxsone's sound system that same night.
The Wailers' first recor d was an instant number one hit.
Everything started there. Everything started there.
It's like, you know, you can't describe that moment, man.
You just... You in your house, you just sang the song in the morning time,
then in the night, without even realising or thinking about... you know,
that it would be on the air,
you hear it blastin' on the air.
You can just imagine the thrill. It was very thrilling.
Rude boy or rude girl would be a title given to the lesser-privileged youths.
You know, rude boy. He's a rude boy.
You know, she's a rude girl.
''Because I come from Trench Town, because I come from Allman Town,
because I come from Denham Town, me's a rude girl.''
They made it seem as if the only way you can exist is to snatch,
because there was nothing for the ghetto people to have survived legitimately.
Because violence at the dance halls was getting out of hand,
their first recor d had told the rude boys to ''simmer down''.
But the Wailers then affirmed their rebel status by becoming musical rude boys.
He's gonna ''put it on''. Yeah, that's for sure.
''Put It 0n'' both has sexual overtones, has rude boy hints,
and at the same time he's thanking the Lord for giving him this spirit.
So you have the religious, the romantic, the sexual and the revolutionary in one.
And yet nothing is overstated.
This is, perhaps, one of the keys to Marley's magic.
Several of Bob's love songs around that time were written for his girlfriend, Rita,
whom he was courting while recor ding a string of minor hits for Coxsone Dodd.
Bob was still very much under the influence of that powerful producer.
Bob, when he met Rita here,
and Rita got pregnant,
I took the financial expense to get them married
because I figured this was the right way and I'm trying to be like a father figure.
''You better marry her.'' I thought this is what he told me Coxsone told him.
And he didn't ask anybody else.
He didn't even tell Peter and Bunny that he was getting married.
And he took his advance and he went and he got me a ring.
And I think Coxsone knew about it before I did.
You could see the ambition in them.
They were ambitious enough to say ''Hey, we're gonna make it.''
''We're gonna be like the Impressions.''
That's all they listened to most of the time.
You'd go to the studio and you would find them listening to Curtis Mayfield,
James Brown, you know, and listening.
Then Coxsone would bring us a pile of records from America.
And then it was ''Wooh! We're listening to American music.'' You know?
In February 1966, Bob Marley made the first of many trips to Delaware,
where his mother had moved a few years before.
He went there to raise money to start his own record label.
He worked for about eight months sweeping floors in the Dupont Hotel.
0n later trips he did things like working on the night shift of a Chrysler factory.
During that time, he was exposed to the civil uprisings in America.
He saw things first-hand where he lived.
He saw the television reports every night
of the brutality going on around the United States,
and that had a profound influence on the kind of writing he did.
Reggae music is a people music and reggae music is news.
It's news about you and yourself, you and history.
Things that you wouldn't really... them wouldn't teach you in a school.
Yes, it's very clear if you listen to early Wailers music
that the black music in the black-American community
was extremely influential.
We had a struggle that included our writers, our performers and the people.
It was a whole movement. And I know, I have no doubt,
that Bob and perhaps the whole of Jamaica listened, heard, and was inspired
by what they saw happening here musically and otherwise.
After being exposed to so much aggression and prejudice
against blacks in the United States,
Bob went back to Jamaica and turned to Rastafari.
It was 1966 and he was 21 years old.
Rastafari is distinctively Jamaican.
A black-consciousness movement that replaces armed physical struggle
with a spiritual one.
It appealed to Bob because Rastas despise the political forces
they believe impose poverty and brutality upon the people.
Those Rasta ideas were to revolutionise Bob's music and politics
in the years that followed.
Me find I and I self among a people, who I Selassie call,
the wonderful people, the Africans,
who have been brought here in the western hemisphere.
Rastas have been outcasts in Jamaica since colonial times,
viewed as a threat by mainstream society.
Their alternative philosophy is based on a rereading of the Bible,
which sees black people in the West as exiles from their African homeland
and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as the true Messiah.
Bob passionately embraced these ideas.
Well, I've been a Rasta from ever since... You know?
But it is not how long I've been a Rasta. It's how long it take you to grow up.
Because what you is is what you is, from beginning to the end.
It can never change. So I was Rasta from Creation, you know?
I said to the people, man, ''Be still and know that His Imperial Majesty
Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
is our rightful ruler.''
You know, the Bible says so, Babylon newspaper says so,
and I and I the children say so.
What them want? Them want a white God?
But God come black.
I'm a Rasta and I know I want to live near my father,
and my father live in Ethiopia, so I must live where my father is.
0ne of the early slogans of Rasta was
''Your mother forsake you, your father forsake you, Rasta will take you.''
And Bob would have heard this on all the campsites.
Haile Selassie definitely became the father figure for Bob
in a personal sense.
Bob felt a special affinity
for Selassie,
based on his rejection by his father.
Captain Norval Marley, Bob's father, was a white Jamaican
who had supervised the colonial farmlands for the British Crown.
He got a local teenager pregnant, married her, and left.
And that was all Bob ever knew of him.
You know, Bob's father being a white person,
his mother being a black person,
in those days, it was a kind of reproach situation.
Reproaches came down on both sides of the fence.
''You should never get a black woman pregnant.''
''You should never be pregnant by a white man.''
So that child is kind of a...
a child that is, you know, not saying not wanted, but scared off.
What I couldn't understand in those days, I understand it after.
And then I just realise, you know, that is a part of life.
And that was like the resentment, you know, between black and white.
Born fatherless. Never knew my father.
My mother worked, 30 shilling a week, for keep me to go to school. Right?
We don't have education, we have inspiration.
If I was educated, I would be a damn fool.
I think what really contributed to Bob being who he was
was the fact that he grew up in the country, that he used to farm.
And he had that sort of innate intelligence that, you know,
you have to put in to take out.
But if you grow up in an urban environment,
the only thing between you and what you want is money.
Anything you want is available immediately.
To succeed in the cut-throat music business of the late '60s,
Bob Marley knew he had to return to the Kingston studios
and reflect the har d realities of street life in his songs.
Well, Reggae music is a music created by Rasta people
and it carry earth force of people rhythm and people...
You know, it's a rhythm of people working, people moving. You know?
Well, we play music, you know. And we don't play for suit critics.
We play what we want to play, when we want to play it, how we want to play it,
and we have a reason why we play it.
The local recor ding industry was highly competitive,
full of ambitious and talented vocal groups
of which the Wailers were just one.
But they had been backed by some of the most revered instrumentalists
in the history of Jamaican music, like the Skatalites,
whose particular brand of ska music had been influenced by American jazz.
getting properly paid for it, quite another.
The producers weren't paying the artists the justice that was due them.
A lot of people couldn't take that. They got frustrated and backed out of it.
The Wailers didn't. The Wailers decided that no frustration ain't gonna stop them.
So we took frustration as an inspiration to write songs,
to get us out of the frustrations.
The music business was not sympathetic
to rebellious young musicians in the late '60s.
Especially not those like Bob Marley and the Wailers,
who were both Rastafarians and rude boys.
Recor ding studios, pressing plants, and even radio stations
were owned by people who didn't want to give Rastas and rudies a platform.
But the Wailers were desperate for airplay
and took matters into their own hands.
It was a kind of a struggle, and if a guy shut the door in your face,
you gotta find a way to open that door.
You know. So sometimes people get roughed up.
Because you're trying to stop something progressive and have no reason to.
''Why are you trying to hold down the Wailers' music? You can't say why.''
''Why do you play other people's music but you won't play ours?''
''You don't say why. Well, we're gonna tell you to play it.''
''0r you ain't going to work to play nothing.''
''So if you go to work, you're gonna play the Wailers,
or we're gonna meet you comin' out of work
and we'll make sure you don't go back to work unless you play the Wailers.''
Whether we meant it or not, that's how we got some radio play.
He's I and I superstar,
Mr Music,
Bob Marley.
Despite their tough-guy tactics, or because of them,
the Wailers weren't getting the exposure they wanted.
Bob was now 25. He badly needed a new sound and a new direction for his music.
He found both with Lee ''Scratch'' Perry,
a maverick producer who changed the style of Marley's music
with collaborations like ''Duppy Conqueror''.
Lee Perry was a nutty professor.
He got a different side of Bob that was happy and humorous.
He had that charisma
that makes the rhythm sticky
and catchy and nice.
And so Bob used that as something, as a compliment to him,
that this man was able to bring out some of what he had in him,
that maybe, normally, he would be a little scared to bring out himself.
Scratch has always been as much performer as producer.
It's coming from here. Then the bass is coming from the brain.
Now you go...
The musicians Bob played with at these sessions became the Wailers band.
Well, when we begin to work as Wailers together,
yeah, we carry strong vibes,
cos what Bob was saying and what Scratch was saying
and what the hippy boy who upset the band was saying,
you know, was the perfect combination to start that Soul Rebel kind of feeling.
I was loving the words that Bob Marley create himself.
We have some good words and have good vibes
and had a good chance of bringing melody together.
He makes the best melody.
He makes the best melody, honestly.
But these ground-breaking ''Soul Rebel'' sessions ended on a sour note
when Scratch, believing the session tapes were his,
sold the songs in England without the Wailers' consent.
He sold out, and then
it led to where we would have to, maybe, be charged for murdering Scratch.
So we avoided that and just walked away
and leave all of that recording and all of that stuff to be in the hands of pirates
all over the world, today.
You go into the shops and you see those same songs
with different Bob Marley pictures on them, but it's the same songs.
Because Scratch did that.
However, these Lee Perry recor dings were hear d in England
by the founder of Island Recor ds.
He grabbed the opportunity to sign the frustrated Wailers band
and offered Bob Marley's music to the world beyond Jamaica.
I first became aware of him in 1962,
and during the course of the next ten years
at times we released some of his records on Island.
But I never met him until 1973.
The strategy really was to present them as like a black rock group.
That's why, though when I signed them, it was Bob Marley and the Wailers,
I said ''Let's make it the Wailers.''
Following the modest success of their first Island album,
a young protégée of Chris Blackwell's was sent to Jamaica to look after them.
I felt that, politically, what was going on in Jamaica should be put in songs.
Just like Dylan did. You know, he would document stuff about people.
And I just thought that we have a voice now, and here is this band.
They have the voice, and this boy, everybody likes him.
You can get them through the door with him.
0nce he was through the door, he'd pull everybody else with him.
Esther had been sent to help manage the band,
but it didn't take her long to fall for Bob's charms.
When I met Bob, I was 29. I loved him very much.
I really loved him. I believed in him. I believed in all of them. All of them.
They were people who had nothing to do with the system,
yet they knew exactly what was going on in the world outside.
They listened to the radio, the BBC, all the time, to the news.
They read the newspapers and the Bible.
And from that they broke down everything to their philosophy
and what place we were in time.
He didn't believe in too much smilin' because his thing was
''When you come down on the rock and see how hard life is there,
you'll see why I don't smile'',
when I ask him why he screw up his face so much.
But then when he did smile, he had such a wonderful smile.
By then, I found out he had kids.
I didn't know I was in this relationship that he was married,
had kids all over the place and whatever.
I was absolutely flabbergasted.
''How can you, a young boy like you, have so many children?''
I didn't know that he had many, many more.
He was a country boy, very, very simple, very unsophisticated.
He might have acquired a bit of sophistication as he became famous,
but when I met him he was totally innocent.
That's why it was unbelievable that he had children.
I thought of him as a little boy.
But I wouldn't say that he was a sophisticated, educated person.
It's just that we Jamaicans are full of sayings and metaphors.
For example, when we were writing ''I Shot the Sheriff'',
and he said ''No, I want something for the Jamaicans.''
''Let's come up with something for the Jamaicans.''
I could just immediately say
''Well, if you shot the guy and he's been bothering you all this time,
well, the thing is, every day the bucket a go a well,
one day the bottom must drop out.''
It's such a Jamaican thing. We say that all the time.
It means: every day you're messin' with me, one day you're gonna get it.
With the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1973,
Rita Marley had formed the I- Three backing group.
They supported Bob on stage as he aimed his message, cloaked in proverbs,
at politicians who ruled through physical violence.
He could not be just a singer.
I mean, even looking at him, when he's singing,
he's fighting a war.
But it's one that, it was not obvious.
Cos he'd speak about spiritual wickedness in high and low places,
where you don't see everything that's wrong.
But it's there, and so Bob felt he had to fight this.
So, yes, he could be a most dangerous man.
He could be on the ''most wanted'' list.
By the mid- '70s, the streets of Kingston
reflected all the anger and discontent of the Jamaican people.
Their politicians had failed to deliver the promised fruits of independence,
and Bob Marley expressed his people's frustration at street level.
I believe that politics wasn't number one for him,
but it was number one for him to make an explanation
to people who didn't understand what was going on politically.
To all the people, all the ghetto people,
from Trench Town and Rum Lane and Matches Lane.
These people who believed in him, he could explain it to them
better than any politician could,
what was goin' on politically, economically and culturally.
There's a lot of folks in Jamaica who can't read.
So therefore there's got to be some message sent
to people that can understand what's going on in government and on the land.
He was the one chosen to do that.
When I stand up and I see youth fighting against youth for the politicians,
then I really feel sick.
And it's just because they keep the youth hungry and they can't get a job.
And the people who control the jobs are politicians.
So you find, you know, politics is just a trick.
Jamaican politics had become polarised between two warring parties.
And each had gunmen to protect their own territories.
The government was led by the late Michael Manley,
whose march towar ds socialism alarmed his American neighbours.
They feared he was leading Jamaica towar ds Castro and communism.
But Manley and his aides recognised how useful reggae music could be
in winning the Jamaican people to their cause.
I think the politicians used reggae.
Reggae, especially through people like Bob Marley,
expressed the wishes and the sentiments of the people.
Their protest came through music and the song,
and they said what they disagreed with and what they agreed with.
And so you could find out really how the people were thinking by what they sang.
It was one way by which you could gauge the people.
In opposition was the Jamaica Labour Party,
led by the right-wing, pro-American Edwar d Seaga.
There is no question about the fact that music is intertwined with politics.
Every public meeting begins and ends with music,
and music is interspersed right throughout.
And the sounds reflect what happenings are taking place in political life.
You wouldn't be able to separate politics and music,
in terms of the extent to which they are interwoven as a form of message.
Both parties were using reggae to sell their policies
and both were anxious to conscript Bob Marley.
He had the street credibility they lacked.
But Bob wanted nothing to do with party politics in his songs.
Yes, it is necessary to understand the lyrics.
This is a music say that to black and white oppressors, to all oppressors,
we are dealing with human beings,
with the purpose why God create man in the first place.
In the mid- '70s, Kingston was divided into political territories
controlled by warlor ds.
Many believed the CIA was supporting the right-wing Edwar d Seaga
with money, guns and propaganda
to bring down the so-called communist government.
We knew that the violence that came up during those years
- and I was in a position very close to see it -
was something which was not entirely local.
We traced it down to the CIA in many ways.
I remember, I think it was about '75,
Kissinger himself personally complained
that we were carrying on an anti-American campaign,
an anti-CIA campaign from our platform.
And he named Michael Manley and named me
as having said things about the Americans' interference
and against the CIA.
He said ''Dudley, take it from me, I know of no CIA at all operating in Jamaica.''
I believe the CIA was using the Jamaican Labour Party as its instrument
in the entire campaign against the Michael Manley government.
I'd say most of the violence was coming from the Jamaica Labour Party side
and behind them was the CIA in terms of getting the weapons in,
and getting the money in, with all the propaganda guidance,
because there was a steady stream, a continuous campaign of propaganda
against the Manley government.
The weapons... there was no problem with getting weapons in
because the ganja smuggling was a perfect route
for bringing weapons back into Jamaica from the United States.
While local politicians benefited from outside assistance,
Bob Marley condemned them in his songs.
The CIA would look upon the radical political content of reggae music
as dangerous,
because it would help to create a consciousness among poor people,
among the great majority of Jamaicans.
And naturally, the climate was created for an attempt on Bob Marley's life.
Bob invited further trouble when he agreed to a government request
to front a free concert called ''Smile Jamaica''.
While Marley dreamed of uniting his people with music,
the politicians planned to use Bob as their pawn
and manipulate the Wailers to support new elections.
The Wailers were forced to deal with it.
The Wailers were the voice of the people, the eyes and the ears of the people.
So these politicians wanted to get mileage.
So, in order to get the youths' and the people's attention, they used the Wailers.
Bob is a musician who wants to play for the people.
But these guys try to see if they can get their thing going
and they're not worried about how dangerous that is gonna be for Bob.
Two days before the Smile Jamaica concert,
which had become transparently political,
gunmen attacked Bob's home in Hope Road.
Entertainer and reggae star Bob Marley,
Rita Marley and the manager of the Wailers, Don Taylor,
are now patients in the University Hospital
after receiving gunshot wounds during a shooting incident
which took place at Marley's home at 56 Hope Road tonight.
That night was cold-blooded.
When I was in the car, I heard things like firecrackers. I said ''What?''
But then, when I looked, I saw some men walking...
creeping like... getting up to enter into the room where Bob was.
And I...
And I said ''Shit, that's gun. That's gunmen.''
I hear - bang!
All I could see was blue flames and spark.
And then I could hear gunshot lickin' from the back, comin' from the side,
and going right back to the front, with them shootin' and makin' their way out.
And I walked out and said ''Let's go find Bob.''
And we went out and we saw Bob coming and he got shot in his elbow.
Then we heard police sirens and everything was happenin', and I said
''Let's rush to the hospital, because you're shot.''
Well, we know it was some political gangsters.
We couldn't tell you if it was left- or right-wing.
But it was, what we know that what we were doin',
that we could expect invasion from all direction.
It happened to satisfy some people and it happened to strengthen me.
My life no important to me, but other people life important.
My life is only important if me can help plenty people.
If me, my life is just for me and my own security, then me no want it.
My life is for people, is where me is.
Despite warnings that he could be shot again,
Marley was determined to perform at the Smile Jamaica show.
Prime Minister Manley has expressed his deep regret at the act of terrorism
directed against Bob Marley and his associates,
and said ''Those responsible for the act would never be forgiven
by decent people of Jamaica. ''
Though Marley was not expected to appear,
the crowd began building early and by 5pm was 50,000 strong.
We have just received wor d that Bob is on his way.
We'll be out of communication for a bit, but get the cameras ready for his arrival.
Prime Minister Manley brazenly attended the concert
to show his support for Bob Marley.
And he went on to win the elections of 1976.
Following the Smile Jamaica concert, Bob went into self-imposed exile.
To escape further attempts on his life and revise his position in this struggle,
he went to England.
While preparing his new ''Exodus'' album, Bob lived in London,
not with his wife, but with a Jamaican beauty queen.
I think he was very hurt that
whomever was responsible was actually able to convince his fellow Jamaican
to pick up a gun, a life-threatening weapon,
and come into his camp at Hope Road to threaten his life.
He understood that it was also to teach him.
Just teach him more about human nature.
Teach him the power of evil,
because you never know the day when evil will jump up
and have a little bit more strength.
I think he was sort of exiled, in a sense.
Self-exiled.
He moved out of Jamaica for pretty much a couple of years, from '76 until '78.
So at that time he became more global.
I had never met anyone like Bob, when I met him.
He wasn't the smooth talker in terms of what your normal suitor would have been.
You know, his idea of a gift might have been a mango.
0r just very coy ways of inviting you
to come outside and have a walk in the evening.
He wasn't the one to call up and say
''How about dinner and dancing tomorrow night at eight?''
He didn't live his life like that.
First of all, if music was happening, music came before everything else.
It didn't matter how beautiful you were
or how keenly he seemed interested the day before.
You could easily fall to Zero priority if there happened to be a new song.
That always, always took priority.
During this time, Bob's wife Rita remained one of the I- Three,
always travelling and recor ding with him.
In London, I can remember we had this Exodus album.
And he was doing this song that I found out that he wrote about Cindy.
And he'd just met Cindy, and so I'm saying ''What?''
''You write that song for Cindy and want me to sing it? I'm not singing it.''
And so I was stubborn, and I don't know why I did it, but I was just sayin'
''I'm gonna show you something - that I can be myself.''
So Marcia say ''No. Come on, Rita. 0h, God, Bob will be mad if you don't.''
And I says ''I am not goin'.''
Yes, ''Turn Your Lights Down Low'' is my song.
It has been said that all of those love songs on that particular album
were written at the time when we were at the height of our relationship.
And I know he was heavily criticised for it.
And I remember him saying to me ''Boy, you see what happen now?''
''Them say me get soft now because is pure love song and ting.''
''Me's a soldier so me have to get militant now.''
It was in '76 that Bob really became a superstar in Europe
and a household name in England.
Suddenly you go from small island girl
to being splashed all over the front page of every newspaper you get in London.
And not just that, but tied in with someone like Bob,
who was a very controversial character.
And they tended to highlight, of course, anything they thought was negative
about his character and his personality.
His habits, his wife, his liaisons with other women, whatever.
So they painted a pretty sordid picture, is what I guess I would have to call it.
I didn't feel like I was a wife.
I felt like I was Bob's background vocal.
So I'd have to remind him ''Hey, Bob, be careful. Watch those girls.''
''Watch those this.'' Then I became the watch I, the mother-hen type.
He would call me sometimes to get girls out of his room.
I didn't complain, cos I felt I was there for the job.
And so the relationship became more like:
I have a commitment with this thing.
He liked to communicate best through his music,
and I think that's where lyrically, you know, you feel his strength.
He said everything he wanted to say that way.
And when he was done with that, he was drained.
What were you gonna say after that? What were you gonna do?
Find another way to say it all over again? What would be the point?
''If you're not listening to my music, then you'll never get it.''
He loved Jamaica very much.
And I think that he saw Jamaica as just a small part
of black people and oppressed peoples' struggles all over the world.
So he understood that struggle. So it was no problem for him to talk about it.
He had that authenticity.
Bob returned to Jamaica in 1978, after 15 months of exile in London.
He was determined to have another go at holding a free concert -
one that could bring peace and reconciliation to his divided island.
Little had changed politically in Jamaica since the assassination attempt on Bob.
The island remained demoralised and destabilised by outside forces.
The purpose of all those activities of violence and armed robbery and murder,
along with propaganda campaigns calling for the overthrow of the government,
naturally created a situation of terror, really,
of tension, of uncertainty, of doubt and fear.
This was the purpose.
We try to bring peace,
knowing that we really can't solve the problem with a war, you know?
Does it really solve a problem, you know, if you, like, really killin' someone?
Whose problem I gonna solve when I kill someone?
You know what I mean? So I figure that peace is the best thing.
And that's why I work with it, because it was a spiritual thing what happen.
What Bob made happen was the ''0ne Love'' peace concert,
intended to bring together the warring politicians in front of their people.
For Bob, it was a way to reassert his place in Jamaican life after a year abroad.
As for the politicians, both parties still wanted Marley's endorsement.
Could we have...
Could we have up here, on stage here,
the presence of Mr Michael Manley
and Mr Edward Seaga?
I just wanna shake hands and show the people that we gonna meet 'em right.
We gonna unite.
When the right-wing leader of the Labour Party, Edwar d Seaga,
was hauled on stage,
everyone wondered if socialist Prime Minister Michael Manley
would have the nerve to meet and greet him.
Manley arrived, to cement what seemed a unique moment in Jamaican history.
But the grand ''0ne Love'' gesture was destined to change little for the people.
For the politicians, it was a photo opportunity.
Bob was not, by temperament or mind, the kind of person
who would ever become, say, a part of a party.
Political, yes, in that he was one of the most articulate troubadours of the ghetto,
its suffering, its pressures, that I have ever heard.
And the interesting thing is that as he grew in stature,
as he became a millionaire, one often wondered
''Will he tend to go soft, to become gimmicky,
to try to appeal to a more commercial market?''
Jamaica's first international superstar now wanted, above all,
to show his fellow countrymen he hadn't sold out.
So his music continued to reflect his devotion to Rastafari.
It was as a Rasta that Bob demonstrated how rooted he was in Jamaican culture.
0ne of the basic tenets of Rastafari is the healing power of mari juana,
to which Bob was notoriously devoted.
Herb... Herb is a plant.
I mean, herbs are good for everything.
Why... Why these people who want to do so much good
for everyone, who call themself governments and this and that,
why them say you must not use the herb?
You see, them just say ''No, you mustn't use it. You mustn't use it because...
it make you rebel.''
Against what?
Against men who won't crave, because them crave for other things.
Them have some material things and them want captivate your mind
until you say ''Well, you have to work and we put you on pension''
and them keep it all.
Herb make you look upon yourself and, instead of you want to work for the man,
you want... you want... you want for be one of the man too.
Not in the sense ''I owe him his''
but in the sense ''Why should you have to bow to these things?''
That means you is your own man. That's the first time you own yourself.
You do what you want to do. Anything people say about you, you don't care.
Bob was able to show he was his own man
by using his immense wealth to build his own studios at home, in 56 Hope Road.
This meant he could also turn his back on the recor ding industry
that had exploited him as a youth.
Bob started Tuff Gong so he could gain the reins of control over his own work.
So that he could produce his own material at his own pace.
If he got an inspiration at night,
he could go down to the studio and record it right on the spot,
and so that he could reap the rewards of his work
instead of a producer who paid him pennies.
When Bob arrived in Jamaica, within minutes - literally minutes -
56 Hope Road would be filled with people.
You could hardly find a way to walk through the yard.
And the crowds spilled over onto the street, down the road.
Bob spent hours - hours - especially at night, interviewing people in need.
At that time there was a lot of political violence,
and a lot of women lost their fathers because of this.
He became, as it were, the father of their children.
He gave a lot of handouts to them.
People would be dependent on him for hot meals.
Every day we had to have funds to make sure people got something to eat.
Chris Blackwell once said in an interview that Bob took care of 4,000 people.
I think that's even a modest estimation. It might even have been much more.
There was another side of him which was extremely disciplined.
Not only with respect to his art and craft, as an artist, writer, musician,
but he didn't tolerate indiscipline around him.
He was very bright, although he didn't like people to think that he was.
He tried to portray a different picture, but he was extremely shrewd.
Because I really try set up certain, like a machine,
where financially we can really help one another.
Because, you know,
from time to time, financial problem I and I people have.
You know. And it cause a lot of mistrust, misbelief, propaganda, fightin', killin'.
Through, you know, direction.
There were different Bob Marleys: Bob Marley the lover and family man.
Bob Marley the footballer.
He was passionate about football, and anywhere he went,
they'd get a side together, and if anyone wanted a match, they were right in it.
So he injured a toenail and he wouldn't give it a chance to heal.
And that was when they detected the melanoma, the skin cancer.
And they removed the entire nail and the nail bed and everything,
and did a graft from his leg here over it, so there was no toenail at all there.
And it healed beautifully.
If you said to him ''Did you go for your checkups and tests?''
he would say ''What you want? You want me to have cancer?''
He used to get very angry.
Denying the cancer didn't help it go away.
It would gradually sap Bob's strength as it moved upwar ds from his toe.
Though he was only 35, Bob's days were numbered.
Generally his demeanour was thoughtful and serious.
And I think he felt that too much jokin' around,
people wouldn't take him seriously, which was the last thing he wanted.
Especially as he was in this tremendous leadership role.
He wanted people to know that this is the way we do things.
All right. There are some Rasta men who would denounce using
the fruits of Babylon, so to speak,
to build up any kind of organisation.
The fruits of Babylon. Babylon don't have no fruits.
To get his music out of what he called Babylon and into Africa
was perhaps the greatest professional desire of Bob's career,
going back to his earliest days.
Bob always believed that the power of his lyrics could change political systems
and carry the message of Rastafari back to its homeland.
Above all, Bob despised the apartheid system
which then existed in South Africa.
The authorities there were terrified his lyrics would incite the people to rise up.
So they censored the tracks they called inflammatory.
They used a thick pen on the cover,
so that we'd never see the title itself.
And then, on the LP itself,
then they scooped the title so that it's just not there.
0n the track they used a sharp instrument, either a knife or a raZor,
and just cut it across, cut it across, so that when you play it,
the needle will go from track to track
and you'll never understand what it's all about on the track.
Africa, to Bob, means everything in terms of proving to himself
how much of Africa is him.
You know? And...
showing that ''Hey, as much as you all think I'm half-white or half-black,
I'm an African. My heritage is in Africa.''
Such was his reputation in Africa as a musical freedom fighter
that when Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980
Bob was the only foreign artist invited to play at the celebrations,
watched by Prince Charles and Robert Mugabe.
His call was for African unity. That was his greatest wish.
And that was what everything he did was focused on,
as a Rasta man, as a black man, as an African.
Music is a cultural weapon, and Bob used it in the wisest way.
He was a freedom fighter. I think in one interview
he said was gonna fight the war single-handed with music.
During these years of nonstop activity, of travel and recor ding,
Bob had continued to ignore the cause of his increasing ill health.
I know there are stories and I know there is the possibility
that they were planning to kill Bob.
And the CIA and other forces who might have wanted Bob to be silenced.
But it was at this time that Bob discovered that he had melanoma.
It's a skin cancer. It is a fatal cancer. It's one of the most fatal cancers.
But the interesting thing about melanoma is
it usually is not contracted by black people.
It is a skin cancer that Europeans contract.
It can be hereditary and so, therefore,
it's possible that the real story is that it is Bob's father and his genes
that passed on the potential for Bob to develop this cancer.
I think he just worked harder and harder and harder.
He was on tour more and more near the end of his life,
in the studio more, just in demand so much more.
I think his life just became so much more stressful.
I don't know how one person would have taken more pressure.
And he really had reached a point where there was just no peace.
Too much of anything is not good, really.
And so you find out with success and stardom, popularity,
everybody was coming and the pressure... the pressure started.
The pressure arises and it made a difference.
He become very edgy,
and his relaxation time was very minimal.
His family time was very minimal. And then, you know, he was losing something.
Suddenly, all the world's media
wanted to interview the star they called the Wild Man of Reggae.
Bob found it har d to hide his contempt for tabloid journalism.
Isn't it true that many Jamaicans get involved in the trafficking of marijuana
and therefore get the bad reputation associated with Rastafarians?
People get trafficking? I don't really know anything about those parts of life.
All I know about is Rastafari,
and I'm try bringing this truth to the people.
What would I have to do to be a Rastafarian?
Well, first thing, you'd have to be born again.
We show the people the Jamaica Rastafari.
No, no, no. Do they like you?
Do you think Rastas have been involved in the killings in Jamaica over the years?
To most people who are very conservative in dress, you look quite strange.
Even if the ganja-smoking Marley, ripped out of his head most of the day,
seems hard to take seriously,
even though the temptation is to laugh at a stoned Jamaican musician
who worships a dead Ethiopian dictator,
Bob Marley's view of the plight of the black man is hard to knock.
You know, everybody wanted a piece of him and they took a piece of him.
And there was hardly any left for him when he really needed it for himself.
I remember speakin' to him in the morning sometimes and...
he wouldn't reply.
''Hey, Bob. Good morning. How are you doin'? What's up?''
He just had a lot on his mind.
In the fall of 1980, Bob undertook a tour
primarily to reach the black American audience.
There were people involved in the promotion of that tour
who were trying to get him not to go into hospital for treatment,
but to continue on the road with the tour.
Why? Well, perhaps an overwhelming reason was
the amount of money that would not be made if Bob didn't go out on the road.
So there was ultimately a mercenary reason behind that.
0n Sunday, September 21, 1980, after two nights at Madison Square Garden,
Bob was jogging in Central Park and collapsed
and began frothing at the mouth, and they carried him back to the hotel,
took him to a doctor, and the doctor found that the melanoma,
which had been diagnosed three years earlier,
had metastasised into his lung and his brain.
And basically he was given just a few weeks to live.
Though he lived on for some months, Bob's health declined rapidly.
Chemotherapy came too late.
He lost his dreadlocks and his fight against the melanoma.
He looked at himself, at his body, and he said ''This is not me.''
''This is not me, Rita.''
But I wasn't gonna give up on him.
And so I tried to keep that out, but then I'm saying ''Bob, don't leave me.''
''You can't leave me. Don't...''
And I was sayin' ''Please...'' You know?
And when that breath was taken, I had to... I had to rebel.
I said ''Don't stop. Go straight to the bosom of the Father Almighty,
sit at his feet and stay there and he will do the rest.''
''Don't go no other way. Don't change direction.''
And it was like I was sending him now. I was moving his spirit.
And he was... he was moving, because Bob wasn't going to accept death.
We knew it was a transition that was in God's hand.
It was in the power of the Almighty. Jah had him in the region.
Bob Marley's funeral was held on 21 May 1981.
He was 36 years old.
He used to just see himself as a black man, a Rasta man, a ghetto youth,
and somebody who had to fight his way out of it.
And he really did.
The early rude boy concept, the rebel, is something that never escaped Bob,
that he was very proud of, that was always part of his music.
He was football. That was his chess game. You know?
The scorin' and dodgin' and fakin' out and makin' the move.
And he wanted to win at everything.
You learn more about him after he's gone.
You won't be able to touch him. You won't be able to see him.
But he's still fighting a war.
I remember, you know, who don't have no help.
And I take no bribe from no one. I fight it single-handed with music.
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