by Robert Wilkinson
Today we honor the birthday of Robert Nesta Marley, a genuine prophet of the people of Rastafari. While not the first to bring reggae music to Babylon and the world, he was certainly the first Jamaican superstar, a man who moved tens of millions. Today we have some great live performance videos from several eras of his career, easily distinguished by the length of his dreadlocks.
As I've written before, the Wailers, composed of Bob Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981), Bunny Wailer (10 April 1947), and Peter Tosh (19 October 1944 – 11 September 1987), set the all-time standard for Reggae music. After the original Wailers dissolved, each had major solo careers, and set styles into motion that influenced countless artists for generations to come. And of course, Bob brought in more "Wailers" who knew how to make us all celebrate "Rastaman vibration."
I had the great blessing of getting up close when he performed in Austin about 34 years ago, and have never forgotten that concert for all kinds of reasons. It was definitely a gathering of one love, one heart, and one world. His music can definitely bring people together in ways very few other things can. And being in a large auditorium filled with very thick smoke while thousands of lighters go on all at once is an interesting phenomenon....
In a strange ironic twist of history, February 6th is also the birthday of Ronald Reagan and Babe Ruth. I cannot imagine three individuals more disparate than Bob Marley, Ronald Reagan, and Babe Ruth. I suppose that shows Sun signs are not all there are to our astrological story! This is another classic cosmic joke in timing, along the same lines as Jimi Hendrix, Caroline Kennedy, and "Buffalo Bob" Smith of Howdy Doody fame all sharing November 27th.
On with the show! First, some live performances of Bob Marley and the Wailers!
One of the greatest rallying songs of all time! Here's Bob performing "Get up, Stand up" live in concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 1979. Here's another performance of "Get Up Stand Up" at Sunsplash 1979.
Here's Bob Marley and the Wailers in a very early b/w clip from 1973 London doing "Slave Driver" and "Get Up Stand Up."
Here's an early clip of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh performing "You Can't Blame The Youth" from the rehearsals at Capitol Studios on 10/24/73.
Here's Bob at Harvard in 1979 doing "Slave Driver."
Bob's first major hit outside of Jamaica, the ever-popular "No woman no cry" live in 1979.
Here's "I shot the Sheriff," the song Eric Clapton made into a hit that awakened even more of the world to the power of Bob Marley's music. Another live performance of Bob Marley live in concert performing "I Shot The Sheriff" in Santa Barbara.
Here is a great version of the powerful "Africa Unite" live at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 1979.
Here's Bob in concert doing his great composition ”Stir it up.”
Here's great footage of Bob performing at the One Love peace concert in 1978. This was a major concert that tried to bring harmony and reconciliation to Jamaica's political process.
A great version of the hit, ”Jammin'”
For your enjoyment, one of my favorites of all time! Here's an awesome version of Bob Marley doing "Redemption Song."
Let's go positive vibration mon! From the 1979 Amandla Festival at Harvard University, Bob Marley and the Wailers perform the opening invocation for “The Festival of Unity,” the hypnotic "Rastaman Vibration.” Here's another live performance from Dortmund, Germany, in 1980 of ”Positive Vibration,” with another version from Santa Barbara here, and a studio version with still photos here.
We have 1980 rehearsals of Rastaman chant/Concrete jungle in Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, said to be "probably the longest Bob Marley video footage you gonna see and... this is his last filmed rehearsal session."
From the same session, "Lively Up Yourself.”
Another live version of ”Lively up Yourself" by Bob Marley at Sunsplash 1979.
Here's another of my favorites! This clip of "Exodus” is from Santa Barbara, this clip of “Exodus” is from Sunsplash, while this music video by Island Records is An unbelievably great video of Exodus. "Movin' all Jah people..."
We now move on to a couple of non-performance music videos with stills.
Here’s the music video honoring those who were “stolen from Africa,” fighting for the nation that both enslaved them and “freed” them. For your reflection and enjoyment, Bob’s posthumous hit “Buffalo Soldier”
And if you don’t want to swear you're old enough to sign in at the last link, here’s the tune direct from the Prophet! “Buffalo Soldier”
Here are a couple of interviews that may help clarify some things about his philosophy and religion. First, Bob Marley on Jamaican Music, followed by the Bob Marley interview on marijuana. (The latter makes you swear you're old enough to enter before you get to view it!)
For our closer, I found a great documentary called Catch A Fire from 1999 on Bob, the Wailers, and how Reggae music came into its global own. For your enjoyment,
Since too much thinking and not enough dancing is not good for the Soul, our encore for the Prophet’s birthday are several entire concerts! First, we have an entire 68 minute show from very early on of Bob Marley and the Wailers in Kingston, Jamaica, December 5, 1976
For our second encore, we have an entire 90 minute concert, said to be one of the last videotaped shows before he died in 1981. I know I gave you a few of these before now, but here's the whole thing! For you extended enjoyment, Bob Marley Live at the Santa Barbara Bowl in November 1979
For our third encore, here's the entire July 1979 show in support of Amandla: African liberation, with Dick Gregory and a host of other major league talent! For your enjoyment, all one hour and 46 minutes of Bob Marley and the Wailers at Harvard Stadium
For our fourth and final encore, this is said to be the last show ever filmed! For your enjoyment, from June 1980, the entire 2 hour Rockpalast concert of Bob Marley live in Dortmund, Germany
Jah eyrie, Rastafari! Happy Birthday, Bob. Today you would have been 69. It goes without saying that you died way too young, but I suppose that's one element in the legend of many immortals. Thanks for giving us tunes that encourage, inspire, and help us remember to "get up, stand up, stand up for our rights" as we catch a fire!
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson