Bob Marley: The Greatest Man I Almost Met

Last Friday saw the cinematic release of Kevin MacDonald's stunning new documentary; Marley. For me, the powerful film evokes the unshakeable regret of never seeing him live.
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Last Friday saw the cinematic release of Kevin MacDonald's stunning new documentary; Marley. For me, the powerful film evokes the unshakeable regret of never seeing him live.

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In my role as the Zelig of the British music industry from 1975 until 1995 I met all kinds of superstars. David Bowie backstage at the Nashville to watch the original Human League - check. The Clash too many times to mention (not to mention being Mick Jones’ personal banker) - check. Ironing Kevin Rowland’s trousers as we stole and held to ransom the master tapes for Searching For The Young Soul Rebels - check. Stories? I got a million of ‘em. Regrets? Very few.


I do have one though. In my days as Dexy’s PA I wasn’t encouraged to fraternise with other popstars. Kevin was very anti that kind of thing and I thought the sun shone out of his arse so I did what he said. As a result I missed the opportunity to go and see

Bob Marley

and the Wailers at the Bingley Hall in Stafford in 1980. Some of the band went - sneaking off so that Kaiser Kev (as he was fondly known) didn’t find out - but I didn’t have the balls.


Today I spent the fastest 145 minutes of my life watching Kevin MacDonald’s brilliant documentary  - Marley - and was reminded of my stupidity. I was a fan of his at the time. Thanks to punk rock in general and the likes of Joe Strummer and John Lydon in particular all of us had our ears opened to this music from Jamaica.


I owned Exodus and played it to death, but when Bob started having hits we saw him as a bit too mainstream and moved on to King Tubby, Culture and the like.

Today I spent the fastest 145 minutes of my life watching Kevin MacDonald’s brilliant documentary  - Marley - and was reminded of my stupidity


This documentary opened my eyes and ears to this amazing man once again. Its a classic lesson in how to tell the story of a legend. Everyone is in it from Bunny Wailer and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry to his kids and some of the women in his life (and given how handsome he was, it’s no surprise there were a few of those!).


The live footage is mind blowing, his presence onstage shines through the old flickering videotape and you feel sad that you’ll never get to see this for real again.


So the music is amazing, he’s handsome as hell, and everybody has a tale to tell about money, guns and football. To be honest that’s more than enough for any human being’s life story, but what this film showed me was just how “good” a man he was. There’s a clip of him discussing what wealth is with an American interviewer that will make the grossest capitalist think twice before shipping yet another tanker-load of cash to the Cayman Islands.


The footage of the legendary One Love Peace Concert in 1978 when he returned from exile and single-handedly put an end to the political gang violence that was ravaging the country by calling political rivals Michael Manley and Edward Seaga up onstage and making them shake hands in front of 100,000 people had me weeping openly in the cinema.


As of course did the final part of the documentary where this incredible man succumbs to the ravages of cancer and is taken from us at 36 years of age. What a fucking crime.

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