by Robert Wilkinson
February 6 would have been the 73rd 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 37 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, who I give a nod to at the end of this post. 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.
We begin with some live performances of Bob Marley and the Wailers! We begin with a song with big attitude!
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.
Since Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer didn’t leave until 1974, enjoy these early shots of the original Wailers!
Here's Bob Marley and the Wailers in a very early clip from 1973 doing "Slave Driver"
I found three great clips of live performances from a 1973 show in Edmonton!
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.
From 1975 in NY, Bob’s obviously wasted as he and the Wailers perform “Them Belly Full”
Also from the Summer of 1975, Bob and the Wailers in a full 30 minute performance of “Bend Down Low,” “Talkin’ Blues,” and “Nice Time”
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.
Here's Bob at Harvard in 1979 doing "Slave Driver."
An audio-only version only released in Jamaica! ”Concrete Jungle”
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.
Because it’s such a great show, here’s the entire 90 minute Santa Barbara concert, said to be one of the last videotaped shows before he died in 1981. For your enjoyment, Bob Marley Live at the Santa Barbara Bowl in November 1979
This year I found a bunch of great clips from that 1979 Santa Barbara Bowl show, so if you don’t want to sit through the entire 90 minutes, here are a few for your enjoyment!
From late in his career, a great performance of the groovin’ ”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 the studio version set to stills of ”Positive Vibration.”
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 a full one hour 45 b/w video of Bob Marley’s show in Oakland! Bob Marley in Oakland 1979
We now move on to some 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!)
Last year, I found a great documentary called Catch A Fire from 1999 on Bob, the Wailers, and how Reggae music came into its global own. This year all but two clips have disappeared. If you want, here’s
Catch A Fire Pt. 5 (with foreign subtitles, so if you don’t speak Rasta, you may have a hard time understanding the words, but not the music!)
Catch A Fire Pt. 6 is still gone
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, 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 third 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 73. 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!
As I mentioned earlier, February 6 was also the birthday of the greatest baseball player ever to walk on to a diamond, the legendary George Herman “Babe” Ruth (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948). One of the first 5 to be elected to the Hall of Fame, he is generally considered the greatest baseball player of all time. He set countless records in both pitching and hitting, some of which stand to this day almost a hundred years later.
He revolutionized the game, lived a life of prodigious appetites and celebrity, and was universally loved as an icon (even if he was booed by those rooting for other teams!) The game’s first true superstar (he was even paid more than the President of the US!), he died way too young of cancer. The Bambino – gone but never forgotten!
© Copyright 2018 Robert Wilkinson