Remembering Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley (11 May 1981)


This Day – 11 May 1981


Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around.

You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more.

You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you.

When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement.

They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself.

Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful.

There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around.

You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are.

The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever.

Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant.

Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all.

A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face.

In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby.

Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you.

You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon.

You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible.

You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you.

You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end.

Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

Bob Marley

Bob Marley’s funeral, 21 May 1981: a day of Jamaican history

24 April 2011 | Richard Williams | The Guardian

They buried Bob Marley on 21 May 1981 at Nine Mile, the village where, 36 years earlier, he had been born. His heavy bronze coffin was carried to the top of the highest hill in the village and placed in a temporary mausoleum painted in the colours of red, green and gold. Alongside Marley’s embalmed corpse, the casket contained his red Gibson Les Paul guitar, a Bible opened at Psalm 23, and a stalk of ganja placed there by his widow, Rita, at the end of the funeral ceremony earlier in the day.

On the night of his death, on 11 May, I had gone to the Island Records studios in an old church in Notting Hill, west London, where Aswad had been cutting tracks in the very basement studio where Bob had completed Catch A Fire, his breakthrough album, nine years earlier. But it was long after midnight, and the musicians had gone home after watching the tributes to the dead man hurriedly assembled by the British TV networks. The only people left were a caretaker and one of Aswad’s roadcrew, both Jamaicans.

“A sad day,” I said, unable to think of anything more profound or perceptive.

They raised their eyes, and the roadie paused in the middle of rolling his spliff.

“Jah give,” he replied, “and Jah take away.”

That was the mood in Kingston when Marley’s body arrived on a flight from Miami a few days later. There was no reason to grieve, the Rastas told anyone who expressed sorrow. Death meant nothing. Bob hadn’t gone anywhere. He was still among us.

The announcement of the country’s national budget was postponed by several days to accommodate Marley’s state funeral. Invitations had to be sent out, the mausoleum had to be constructed, and security had to be organised at the National Arena, where the main ceremony would be held. And the prime minister, Edward Seaga, had to prepare his eulogy.

On the day before the funeral, the coffin was placed in the arena, a large, gymnasium-like building. The lid was open and the public – an estimated 100,000 of them – were allowed to file past to take a final look. Marley’s head was once more covered with dreadlocks; but this was a wig which covered his bald skull, his own hair having been lost during his treatment for cancer in New York, Miami, Mexico, and finally the Bavarian clinic of Dr Josef Issels, following the diagnosis of a malignant melanoma four years earlier.

In Jamaica, everyone claimed to be Bob’s friend. “Sure I knew him,” the cab driver who picked me up at Norman Manley Airport said. “He smoked the herb of life.” And he passed his spliff over his shoulder to his friend in the back seat, a uniformed policeman.

The day of the funeral began with an hour-long service for family and close friends at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity on Maxfield Avenue, presided over by His Eminence Abuna Yesehaq, the church’s archbishop in the western hemisphere, who had baptised Marley in New York the previous November, just after his last triumphal concerts at Madison Square Garden. Bob’s baptismal name was Berhane Selassie – “Light of the Trinity”.

At the end of the short service the coffin was transported to the National Arena, where the 6,000-strong congregation were assembling under the eyes of cameras and reporters from around the world. Above the entrance, a huge banner proclaimed: “Funeral Service of the Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, OM”. The Order of Merit had been conferred a few weeks before his death.

The casket was carried into the hall on the shoulders of a score of white-jacketed guards of the Jamaica Defence Force. Inside and out in the street, a powerful public address system blasted out Bob’s records, while in the surrounding avenues the hawkers of badges, posters, soft drinks and ganja worked the large numbers of people who had arrived without invitations and were prepared, if they could not get in, to listen to the ceremony as it was relayed by the loudspeakers.

“Babylon system is a vampire,” Bob’s voice wailed as the coffin was deposited on a trestle table in the middle of the broad stage and covered with two flags, the green, gold and black of Jamaica and the red, green and gold of Ethiopia. The decorations were the work of Neville Garrick, the creator of all the Wailers’ album cover art from 1976’s Rastaman Vibration to 1980’s Uprising. The balconies were open to the public, and filled up quickly, but on the floor the rows of chairs were marked with signs: Family, Government, Press, Twelve Tribes of Israel, Musicians.

Photographers swiftly surrounded Cedella Booker, Bob’s mother, in whose Miami home he had died, as she took her place. She was followed by his widow and some of his children, including his sons Ziggy, aged 12, the nine-year-olds Steve and Robert Junior, born to different mothers, and Julian, aged five, and his daughters Cedella, 13, and Stephanie, six. Applause saluted the entry of Michael Manley, the former prime minister, whose pro-Cuban policies had provoked the disastrous enmity of the US government and the International Monetary Fund, and who had been deposed by Seaga at an election six months earlier.

The Rastafarians, in particular, still saw Manley as a friend of the oppressed, and there was an obvious contrast with the polite but tepid response accorded to Seaga, who hurried to his seat surrounded by uniformed guards. The governor-general of Jamaica, Sir Florizel Glasspole, ON, GCMG, CD, the Queen of England’s official representative, arrived from his residence, the palatial Devon House, to provide an appropriate symbol of the island’s colonial history, a living reminder that the ancestors of most of those present had been brought from Africa four centuries earlier to form the world’s only entirely slave-based economy.

The formal guard of the Ethiopian church, elderly men and women in white robes, took their places around the coffin and the centre of the stage was soon filled with the church’s elders, in robes of varied and vivid design. On the right of the platform a riser had been built for the choir and for the United Africa Band, a group consisting of several percussionists, a bass guitarist and organist, directed by Brother Cedric Brooks. To the left, another riser was covered with amplifiers, keyboards and drums, all stencilled with the legend “Bob Marley and the Wailers”.

A voice came over the loudspeakers. “Brothers and sisters, this is a funeral service for the late Bob Marley. Please don’t forget that. The selling of all merchandise must stop now.” In the row in front of me, the producer Harry J, accompanied by his latest protegee, the singer Sheila Hilton, was in conversation with a Rasta wearing a red, green and gold tam o’shanter. “There has to be a revolution to get a solution,” the Rasta proclaimed. Harry J didn’t seem to be entirely in agreement. I wondered if, under the armpit of his glossy silk suit, he was stillpacking the silver Smith & Wesson revolver I’d seen him remove from the glove compartment of his Oldsmobile as he took Chris Blackwell and me to a Catch A Fire session in his studio nine years earlier, the day after Marley and Blackwell had signed the deal that would set the whole phenomenon in motion.

A little while after the scheduled hour of 11 o’clock, the service began with an Anglican hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, accompanied by the drummers of the United Africa Band. As the familiar 18th-century melody – written by William Croft, an Oxford scholar and composer to Queen Anne, whose remains lie in Westminster Abbey – died away, the archbishop, standing beneath a parasol held by an acolyte, began to read passages from the Anaphora of John, Son of Thunder and the Anaphora of St Mary, rendered in Ge’ez, the ancient tongue of Ethiopia, and Amharic.

The governor-general stepped forward, a small, portly figure, to read the first lesson, taken from 1 Corinthians: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” The congregation sang another hymn, coincidentally a favourite of Elvis Presley: “Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee/ How great Thou art, how great Thou art.” Manley read from 1 Thessalonians: “Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith/ For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”

Then, to the delight of the Rastas in the balcony, it was the turn of the dreadlocked Allan “Skill” Cole, Jamaica’s finest footballer and one of the dead man’s closest friends. Cole was wearing the raiment of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, a popular sub-sect of Rastafari founded in Jamaica in the late 1960s and with whom Marley had long been associated; his inclusion in the proceedings had been tolerated by the Ethiopian elders, to whom the Rasta doctrines represented a form of heresy, only under protest. He had been scheduled to read from Psalm 68, which bears the subtitle “To the chief musician, a psalm or song of David”.

Instead he announced that he proposed to deliver passages from Corinthians and Isaiah particularly dear to Rastafarian hearts. Mutterings and shufflings among the church dignitaries on the platform were answered by sounds of delighted approval from the congregation. Their mood turned to boisterous glee as the footballer refused to heed urgent requests to leave the platform, continuing with his reading before returning to his seat amid the sounds of triumph.

The archbishop, clearly annoyed, recovered his composure in time to read the Beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – and to lead the Lord’s Prayer before Seaga delivered a eulogy memorable only for its closing benediction: “May his soul,” intoned the man in the dark business suit, “rest in the arms of Jah Rastafari.” Even the Twelve Tribes could scarce forbear to cheer this explicit recognition of their usually ignored presence within Jamaican society.

The archbishop’s address contained an implicit rebuke of Skill Cole in a direct address to the Rastas in the hall. Why advocate repatriation to Africa, he demanded, when it would profit them more to work together for a better life in Jamaica? “Jah!” they shouted in defiance as he spoke. “Rastafari!”

The most extraordinary moment of the ceremony, the most beautiful and un-European, came after the members of Marley’s old band mounted the stage. The I-Threes – Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths – sang “Rastaman Chant” to a ponderous and mournful rhythm before the Wailers, directed by the guitarist Junior Murvin, struck up “Natural Mystic”.

It was during this song, while the crowd was getting to its feet and moving towards the stage to join what had suddenly been transformed from an obsequy to a celebration, that Ziggy and Stevie Marley could be seen dancing among the musicians. Identically dressed in maroon suits and white shoes, they performed joyous imitations of their late father’s distinctive stage choreography, and the resemblance was such that the congregation gasped at the sight. When the engineer at the mixing desk superimposed a recording of Bob’s voice above the band’s heavyweight rhythm, the effect was hallucinatory.

Cedella Booker closed the service. Accompanied by two other women, she delivered “Amen” – written by Curtis Mayfield, whose music had inspired Marley’s earliest efforts – in a powerful voice as her listeners swayed to the rhythm.

Then the musicians put down their instruments, lifted the coffin on to their shoulders and carried it through the hall and out into the roadway, where it was placed in a hearse, ready for the 50-mile journey to the place where Marley’s life had begun.

As the cortege left Kingston, it passed by the house at 56 Hope Road whose walls still bore the scars from the bullets that narrowly failed to kill Marley in a politically motivated attack in 1976. On South Camp Road, outside the Alpha Boys School, where many of Jamaica’s finest musicians had been taught to play by an inspiring teacher named Ruben Delgado, pupils sang “No Woman, No Cry” as the procession headed towards Marcus Garvey Drive and out of the city on the road towards Spanish Town .

Crossing the parish of St Catherine to the town of Bog Walk, where the road splits right to Port Maria and left to Ocho Rios, the cars turned north-east through Moneague and past the 2,000ft peak of the mountain called Friendship, taking the left fork past Claremont and into the parish of St Ann, skirting the foothills of the Dry Harbour Mountains and on through Brown’s Town. All along the route, people came out of houses, schools, farms and workshops to stand by the roadside. Finally, in mid-afternoon, the dead man and his companions arrived at Nine Mile, a hamlet set at the end of a single-track road among gentle, verdant red-clay hills.

A helicopter buzzed overhead, carrying a film crew, their cameras trained on slopes covered with white-robed figures. Rastas from all over the island had set off early to be in place when the cortege arrived. Policemen fingered machine guns but disorder was minimal, despite the crush as the coffin was removed from the hearse and carried by many willing hands up to the small temporary mausoleum.

Nine Mile turned out to be no more than a scattering of shanties, with one or two bars and a small single-storey stone building consecrated, according to a handwritten sign, to the use of the Holy Baptist Church of the Fire of God of the Americas. This was a place where workers in the sugar plantations set in the flatlands towards the sea had built their homes and quietly cultivated their modest crops. It was here, on 6 February 1945, that Cedella Booker had brought Bob Marley into the world, and it was here, only a few paces away from the mausoleum, in a tiny two-room shack, that Bob and Rita had returned for a year at the end of the 1960s, to nurture their first child.

After a brief ceremony of interment, the convoy departed, followed by the police. Only the Rastas remained. For the last time, Junior Murvin and Neville Garrick climbed the low mound to the mausoleum, picking their way through empty Red Stripe cans, the music they helped to send around the globe throbbing from cassette players.

As the light began to fail, the vendors of ice creams and soft drinks packed their goods away. The thump of the helicopter’s rotors receded. The white-robed members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel melted into the dusk. Bob had come home.

Reggae legend Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann, Jamaica. In 1963, Marley and his friends formed the Wailers. Marley went on to sell more than 20 million records throughout his career, making him the first superstar to emerge from the so-called Third World. He died at 36 in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981 due to cancer.


The Wailers ,bob marley live at the BBC 1973 full concert 


Bob Marley & the Wailers – 1975-06-10 Quiet Knight Club, Chicago, IL 


Bob Marley “Live At The Boarding House: San Francisco, USA” (Complete)

 Remembering Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley: 10 quotes

11 May 2018 | This is Africa

“A fervent  and unapologetic Pan-Africanist, Bob Marley strongly believed in the unity of African people and his beliefs on Pan-Africanism were rooted in his Rastafari religious beliefs.

Marley received numerous accolades during  his lifetime and posthumously including the United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World (1978), Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), and the Jamaican Order of Merit (1981) amongst others.

Reggae legend survived an attempted assassination in Kingston, Jamaica, 1976. Photo: Lifedaily
Reggae legend survived an attempted assassination in Kingston, Jamaica, 1976. Photo: Lifedaily

In remembrance of Marley, we celebrate his legacy and look at some of his well-known inspirational quotes, and excerpts from his music.

1. “Possession make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is Life, forever”. Interview for the Australian TV show 60 Minutes.

2. “Today, people struggle to find what’s real. Everything has become so synthetic that a lot of people, all they want is to grasp onto hope”. Quoted in Rolling Stone’s The Immortals (2004).

3. “Black people are suffering all over the earth and when you check it you know that black people must unite”. Quoted in BBC article, Marley’s legend undiminished, (2001).

Excerpts from lyrics

4. “Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight”. Get Up, Stand Up, from the  album Burnin’ (1973).

Read: Jamaican novelist wins 2015 Man Booker Prize

5. “One love, one heart, Let’s get together and feel alright”. One Love (co-written with Curtis Mayfield), from the album Exodus, originally recorded on The Wailing Wailers (1965)

6. “Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny”. Zimbabwe, from the album Survival (1979).

7. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
 none but ourselves can free our minds”. Redemption Song, from the album Uprising (1979).

8. “They made their world so hard, every day we got to keep on fighting”. One Drop, from the album Survival (1979).

9.  “How good and how pleasant it would be before God and man, yeah. To see the unification of all Africans”. Africa Unite, from the album Survival (1979).

10. “They say: only the fittest of the fittest shall survive, stay alive”. Could you be loved, from the album Uprising (1979).

Source: Wikiquote and Bob Marley lyrics

Obituary: Don Taylor, Bob Marley’s Manager

16 November 1999 | Pierre Perrone | Independent


NOW HAILED as one of the icons of the 20th century and the first world music superstar, the Jamaican singer Bob Marley, who died in 1981, was supported in his endeavours by a huge entourage. At its centre from 1974 to 1979 was his manager Don Taylor.

Sometimes compared to the boxing promoter Don King or Elvis Presley’s manager “Colonel” Tom Parker, Taylor was a shrewd entrepreneur who learned his trade with various American rhythm’n’blues acts in the Sixties before helping Marley fulfil his international potential in the Seventies. Taylor subsequently fell out with the singer and became embroiled in legal disputes over the Marley estate.

He wrote an autobiography, So Much Things To Say: my life as Bob Marley’s manager, published in 1994. The self-aggrandising title, never mind the suspect chronology and grand claims the book sometimes makes, gives a measure of this larger-than-life figure who travelled from the ghettos of Jamaica to a life of luxury in Miami, Florida.

Taylor was born in Kingston in 1943; his mother, Cynthia Llewellyn, was just 13 years old at the time of his birth, worked as a maid and lived with a black Jamaican called Taylor. However, Don was actually the son of Vernal Kidd, a white British soldier. Disowned by both parents, the young Don grew up hustling cruise- liner passengers in the downtown area of Kingston. Already, he was cutting deals with bar owners, selling American cigarettes or washing cars.

Meeting the American singer Lloyd Price gave Taylor the idea of setting up a valet service for other visiting performers such as Fats Domino, Ben E. King and Jackie Wilson. Impressed by Taylor, Wilson bought him a plane ticket to Miami in 1960. While there, he met Jerry Butler and ended up in New York, working for Little Anthony and the Imperials.

By 1965, Taylor had managed to convince the US military that his father was American; he was drafted for two years, giving him legal resident status. Following his discharge in 1967, he rose from road manager to looking after the affairs of Little Anthony and the Imperials. The vocal group were on the way down after hits such as “Tears on My Pillow” and “Goin’ Out of My Head” but Taylor kept them working in Las Vegas and learned to operate in a “charged environment” which was under mafia influence. He also took the Motown artist Martha Reeves under his wing.

Asked by the Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley to organise a benefit concert for the Trench Town Sports Complex, Taylor suggested Marvin Gaye as the headline act, while a local promoter, Stephen Hill, added Bob Marley to the bill. During negotiations over the concert in 1973, Marley was puzzled by Taylor’s appearance and business acumen. “You really is a Jamaican? How you learn the business so?” he asked.

The pair kept in touch. The following year, realising there was a buzz around Marley’s group, the Wailers (Eric Clapton’s version of “I Shot the Sheriff” had just become a hit) and hearing that the group had left their manager Danny Sims, Taylor travelled to Kingston, walked to Marley’s house at 56 Hope Road, woke him up and offered the singer his services. The pair shook hands and, although they didn’t even draft an agreement for another two years, Taylor convinced Marley to go on the road to promote the Natty Dread album.

After a successful tour of Canada and the United States, Taylor renegotiated Marley’s deal with the Island Records boss Chris Blackwell for $1m, just as the seminal album Live! and the single “No Woman No Cry” were racing up the charts in 1975. Setting up a company in the British Virgin Island of Tortola to avoid UK and US taxes, Taylor also extricated Marley from his publishing deal with Danny Sims.

In late 1976, Marley decided to play a free show for his countrymen and Taylor suggested the grounds of Jamaica House. However, Michael Manley hijacked what was supposed to be a non-political event and called for elections to be held soon after the Smile Jamaica concert.

On 3 December, two days before Marley was due to play the concert, seven gunmen burst into his home in Kingston and shot him, his wife Rita, Lewis Griffith, a family friend and Don Taylor. Taylor was critically injured in the assassination attempt, but, by standing in front of Marley, arguably saved the singer’s life. “I heard Bob say: they shoot up Don Taylor, Don Taylor dead or something,” recalled Taylor, who lost a great deal of blood and was nearly pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital, until a doctor examined him more closely. He was subsequently flown to Miami, where a bullet was removed from his spine.

Marley went ahead with the concert but then spent 18 months away from Jamaica, recording much of Exodus and Kaya in Britain. He eventually returned in 1978 for the One Love Peace concert during which he clasped both the hands of Manley and leader of the opposition Edward Seaga in a forced show of unity.

In 1979, Taylor bought Jimmy Cliff’s publishing rights for $40,000 and set about rebuilding Cliff’s career, which had been on the skids since the early Seventies. However, when negotiating separate advances for concerts by Cliff and Marley in Gabon, the manager was accused by Marley of “creative accounting” and dismissed. Taylor claimed that Marley later forced him to cancel their management agreement at the point of a gun. In 1980, Marley wrote “Bad Card” as a thinly veiled attack on Taylor for the album Uprising. By then, Marley had been diagnosed with cancer and he died in 1981 in Miami.

Taylor took care of the funeral arrangements in Jamaica but Marley’s death hit him hard and he began using cocaine. He was also trying to sort out the singer’s estate but, in the absence of a will, the dispute between various parties (Rita Marley, Danny Sims, Cedella Booker – Marley’s mother – and so on) rumbled on until 1989 when Chris Blackwell bought the publishing rights to Marley’s songs for $12m. In 1983, Taylor convinced EMI America to sign the Melody Makers featuring Ziggy Marley (Bob’s son).

Taylor claims he was later targeted by the mafia but used his connections to call off the hitmen. Over the years, he also worked with Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, Prince, Soul II Soul, and the producers Baby Face and L.A. Reid. Tall, sharply dressed, charismatic, and nicknamed “Jaws” by those who disliked him, Taylor was fond of bragging to interviewers: “I made Bob Marley a millionaire! I’m a wealthy man. I don’t have to work.”

“Don Taylor, you know what I like about you is you no lickey lickey,” was the nicest compliment Marley paid the manager who made him a multi- million-selling artist.

Donald Delroy Taylor, manager and promoter: born Kingston, Jamaica 10 February 1943; three times married (four sons, one daughter, and one son deceased); died Miami, Florida 1 November 1999.


Original Link | Remembering Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley: 10 quotes

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