This is my TRIBUTE TO BOB MARLEY, the Reggae King. His music can be heard all around the world, from the small hip beachside bars of Puerto Escondido, Mexico to the glittering nightclubs of Singapore. I have traveled to many places in the tropics – the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia, Ghana etc – and everywhere I go, I hear the music of Bob Marley being played.
It was only after Bob Marley died in May 1981, that his legend and music have skyrocketed. Truly, Bob Marley is much larger in death than he was in life. On a global basis, his popularity (and his music) no doubt exceeds Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Before I continue this tribute, I must say that I met Bob (and the Wailers) in July 1976 when he was performing at the Boarding House in San Francisco. Then in late April 1980, I visited Bob at his house on 56 Hope Road in Kingston on the very day that he returned from Zimbabwe. I wouldn’t go so far, to say that I was a friend of Bob’s, but we knew each other – call us casual acquaintances. Several months after meeting Bob in Jamaica he succumbed to cancer. He has since become A LEGEND!
As evidence of Bob’s popularity - in Langkawi, Malaysia’s most fashionable beach resort, there is even a dedicated Reggae Boutique that sells only Bob Marley T-shirts, hats and clothing accessories.
In Khao Sok, a remote off-the-beaten track eco-destination in Thailand, there is even a small club called the Reggae Bar. Whose songs did they play most of the time? You guessed it - Bob Marley’s greatest hits! Same, same in Koh Lipe, a small, relatively obscure island in Southern Thailand’s Satun Province - walking by the Reggae Bar in late December, the DJ played Bob Marley’s greatest hits continuously for at least 30 minutes.
In Kuala Lumpur’s famous Chinatown, there is also an establishment called the Reggae Bar. Decorated with pictures, posters and photographs of Bob Marley, it is by far one of the most popular bars in Kuala Lumpur. As my special tribute to Bob, I bolted into the bar like a crazed lunatic one late afternoon and did am impromptu version of I Shot the Sheriff.
Some of the patrons from West Africa gave me a rousing ovation, while some of the European patrons continued to sit there impassively without blinking an eye as if nothing happened (I guess they had been hitting the bong). My performance was definitely one of the highlights of my trip!