Bob Marley: Behind the Music #175

Season 1 Ep 1756/30/2002

"Behind the Music: Bob Marley" tells the story of the rasta rebel with rare and never-before-seen photos, film, news video, performance footage and more, plus new interviews featuring The Wailers' co-founder Bunny Wailer, Keith Richards, I-Threes vocalists Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths, pioneering ska artist Joe Higgs, reggae historian Roger Steffens, lawyer and friend Diane Jobson, author Chris Salewicz, recording engineer Tony Platt, friend Neville Garrick, record producer Coxson Dodd, friend and music publisher Danny Sims, and Cindy Breakspeare, plus Bob's mother Cedella Booker, wife Rita Marley and children Sharon, Ziggy and Stephen.A former colony steeped in profound social inequity and abject poverty after three centuries of British colonial rule, Jamaica was awakening to freedom when Bob Marley was born to a single mother in a tiny rural shack with a dirt floor. Later moving to the Trenchtown section of Kingston where his mother sought better work opportunities, a young music-loving Marley eventually hooked up with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh to start a group that became Jamaica's top band by the late '60s, cranking out hit after hit of ska-based country, rock, and pop.But the hits didn't make a lot of money for them, as the studio owned their recordings. Marley objected and turned his back on the recording industry's cozy arrangements. He followed his mother to Delaware and labored in hotels and on an auto assembly line -- while becoming more politicized in the turbulent America of the time -- and saved his money to start a label with The Wailers. Marley also came to embrace the Rastafarian religion, with its dreadlocks and marijuana rituals, and its goal to spread the word of the Lion of Judah. Battling oppression and injustice with reggae anthems of empowerment and inspiration, Marley was still known only in Jamaica -- until Island Records' Chris Blackwell intervened and gave Bob Marley to the world.Though co-founders Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh split after the release of the band's second album, Marley held The Wailers together and conquered the music charts. Hugely influential back home in Jamaica, he refused to align himself with what he felt was a corrupt Jamaican political scene. Two days before a 1976 concert that he hoped would unify the citizenry -- a show that was instead co-opted by prime minister Michael Manley and made to appear as an endorsement of his party -- Marley and his wife were shot in an attempted assassination. The assailants were never caught. Now a larger-than-life legend, Marley left for a world tour in 1977. When he badly injured his foot during an impromptu soccer game in Paris, Marley received word that he was also suffering from cancer. Despite surgery and treatment, the cancer spread to his brain and lungs, and finally stilled reggae's most vibrant voice on May 11, 1981.Among the highlights from "Behind the Music: Bob Marley":Wailers co-founder Bunny Wailer, on Marley's struggle to be heard: "Bob was geared for it -- whatever sacrifices he had to make, he was determined to make those sacrifices."Keith Richards, on first hearing The Wailers: "There's definitely a buzz in there -- and you can't keep me away from a buzz ... 'Catch a Fire' caught fire, and Bob just basically exploded."Rita Marley, on first meeting Bob: "You come in as a female, young girl, everybody wants to lay you down -- but Bob had a different attitude, and a different approach, and we started to share letters. He would send little notes, 'cause he was shy, very shy."Judy Mowatt, on Marley's mission: "This is of God. People need to know that Bob understood his God- given purpose, and that was what propelled him and pushed him."Neville Garrick, on Marley's use of marijuana: "He would just explain it by saying that, you know, we smoke herb not for giddiness or happiness but to heighten our consciousness."Keith Richards, on Marley's global superstardom: "Bob struck a universal chord. I mean, why are Scandinavians leaping around to 'No Woman No Cry' or 'Buffalo Soldier,' eh? It's in the genes."Cindy Breakspeare, on Marley's brief life: "Looking back now, you have to wonder what more could he have done? It seems that he really did do it all, he accomplished what he set out to do."Nelson Garrick, on Marley's infidelities: "Bob loved women. Like Solomon, that was his weakness. Being a handsome man, women gravitated to him."