Marley.

Stan the man.

I first came across the music of Bob Marley in 1977 when I was introduced to the album Rastaman Vibrations (1976). Between 1977 and 1978 I worked for a company that described themselves as Environmental Planning Engineers, the work included fitting office space in London with demountable partitioning for various clients, including the government bodies. Part of the work included redecoration for which we employed a team of subcontracting decorators, the youngest of whom was a young black guy called Stan who smoked the biggest and fattest spiffs I’d ever encountered and it was Stan that persuaded me to give reggae music a listen. Thanks to him I began an appreciation of the music of the Jamaican born genius.

The lion of Judah.
Marley’s cult status is unparalleled in modern history for some one that died at such a very young age. His universal appeal is not only due to his music but also to his political legacy; this is superbly demonstrated in Kevin Macdonald’s biographical portrait Marley(2012). The documentary charts Bob’s life from his birth into poverty to a white father, who originated from Sussex in England the self styled 60 year old ‘Captain’ Norval Sinclair Marley, and Cedella Booker an 18 year old Afro-Jamaican, his subsequent move from Nine Mile Parish in St Ann, Jamaica to Trench Town in Kingston with his mother, his father had already done a bunk some years earlier, through his rather complicated love life (11 children by 7 different women), and his embracement of a black God through Haile Selassie and the Rastafarian movement. It also gives you a detailed insight in to his musical career from its earliest beginnings right up to height of his international fame and his death from cancer at the age of 36 in 1981.

Bob and Rita with their young family.

The film includes some very interesting and informative interviews with various people including his wife Rita, his son Ziggy and daughter Cedella along with ex-band members and other people that helped make musical career what it is today. Macdonald has interwoven some great performance footage into the biopic, with the early material being the most intriguing. Even if, like me, you consider yourself quite knowledgeable about the reggae stars life I can assure you that you will find plenty in Macdonald’s very lively 145-minute film to interest you as well as gaining a greater appreciation about how mankind lost a great charismatic peace-loving hero.

The great Bob Marley seen in action.