A lot of bodies don’t apperceive that Bob Marley played the flute. That’s appropriate — Bob Marley’s admired apparatus is the f—— flute. Why? Because, he said, aback he played the flute, it austere his lungs and he admired the complete the canal made.
Those of us who were abutting to him would consistently ask him: ‘Why don’t you comedy the canal on your songs?’ His acknowledgment was always, ‘Bwoy, me nuh ’tink me acceptable enough.’ That’s how abundant of a accurate — and raw adversary — Bob was. The song ‘Africa Unite,’ which starts out with a canal intro, would accept been absolute [for him to comedy on]. Imagine if Bob came out on any date to that, arena the canal — he would accept broken the abode down.
But that was Bob; he was a accurate and a adamantine taskmaster. He accepted the best from everybody and didn’t accept in ‘can’t’. He consistently believed you had to acquisition a way. He didn’t appetite anybody advancing to him with problems. He believed in angry through and award a way. I admired that about Bob.
The best important affair to him was bodies — that’s why he was so adamantine on the blow of us. He never capital to abort his people, alike admitting he was a man who didn’t assurance too abounding people. That’s why he wrote ‘Who the Cap Fit’ on the Rastaman Vibration album.
At the aforementioned time, Bob wasn’t an egotist. He was adequate award the appropriate bodies to accord to the team. He was the frontman who would calmly footfall to the back.
There was no dispatch aback with football, though. Bob admired football — or soccer, as the apple calls it. Admired it to the point that if he was as acceptable as Allan “Skill” Cole, his above bout administrator who I still accede Jamaica’s best footballer, he apparently would accept pursued it over music. It was barefaced why Bob emulated Skill Cole; aback then, Skill would ambit the ball, absurd and ‘salad’ defenders on a approved base — cipher had anytime apparent that. He would breach a apostle bottomward from 3 yards out because they were abashed [to get abutting to him]. You see that all the time now, but that was atypical aback in those days.
Even admitting Bob wasn’t a big, able man, he was absolute aggressive. Aback he tackled, he tackled hard. Aback he kicked and approved to score, he kicked hard. We absent affluence of assurance to Bob’s able foot.
Neville Garrick and Bob Marley affectation for a account afterwards demography a breach from arena soccer.
Courtesy of Neville Garrick
Bob was a midfielder who would consistently accomplish overlapping runs. Because he tackled so hard, he apparently would accord up penalties if he played defense. On a big field, he was a absolute offensive-minded player, consistently attractive for an befalling to score.
If you saw those shots he acclimated to booty at Hope Road [where Bob lived in Kingston, Jamaica] in those little flat goals, man, you would marvel. Hope Road had become a mini amphitheater aback in the day. The acreage wasn’t that big. But we had some abandoned three-on-three and four-on-four amateur there, with some big-time civic aggregation ballers who would appear and comedy with us. We acclimated to command big crowds.
If I was to bulk ‘the Gong’ as a baller — I’m abiding he’d be affronted to apprehend this — I would accord him a 6.57 out of 10, because I brand hard. He gets that brand because of his weakness, as a player, which was additionally his strength. He was so advancing and so advancing — and sometimes you can be too competitive. But, bwoy, he would run. Run for days. [Original Wailers bandage member] Bunny Wailer was added accomplished than Bob, though; we acclimated to alarm him “Fitty Fitty” because he was so fit.
Once we were in England for the Uprising Bout with [singer] Eddy Grant; he had a big tune alleged ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ Eddy had a agglomeration of brothers, three or four of them, who had an calm team. They concluded up arduous us to a game. At that time, Skill [Cole] had aloof alternate from a three-year aperture in Ethiopia, aloof afore Bob got attempt in 1976.
So we’re playing, and Eddy Grant’s aggregation is aloof animadversion the brawl about us like we weren’t alike there. It was me, Skill, Bob, [Bob’s percussionist] Alvin “Seeco” Patterson and [Bob’s cook] Antonio “Gilly” Gilbert. They went up on us quick — 2-0. But we didn’t apperceive that you could use the bank basically to your advantage, to baffle a apostle or to comedy a brawl about him. So Bob alleged timeout. We told him, ‘Bob, you can’t alarm abeyance — this isn’t basketball,’ but they gave us a break. That was their affliction mistake.
Once we accepted the rules — and knew that it was acceptable to use the bank — Eddy Grant and his accompany got 5-2 aback it was all said and done. That was aloof Bob; he didn’t appetite to lose at anything.
You couldn’t necessarily actuate that a football ability would be abreast us, not every time, aback we traveled. It was consistently nice to accept a esplanade or a ability nearby. But we played ‘Money Ball.’ Whenever we busy a hotel, we consistently busy a apartment — which Bob never slept in. It was busy so that we could accept a big dining allowance table and kitchen, because we never ate out. We adapted all of our own food.
With ‘Money Ball,’ we’d alter the brawl central that presidential suite. And if you bankrupt anything, you’d accept to pay for it. That’s why we alleged the bold ‘Money Ball.’
Bob Marley dribbles bottomward field.
Adrian Boot/Fifty-Six Hope Road Music LTD.
Everyone knows the adventure of Bob’s abrasion in 1977. You apprehend all kinds of cabal theories. I see them all the time and laugh, but I was there. We played a bout adjoin some journalists in Paris that year, aloof walking ambit from the hotel. Bob wasn’t arena in able football boots, and a bredda tackled him. Bob’s toenail tore off as a aftereffect — not completely, but the attach was aerial up. So he chock-full and told us to abide arena and went aback to the hotel. I anticipate it was auberge doctor who looked at it, and they abrupt off the attach and bandaged it up.
He had a abrasion abrasion beneath his big toe. Not the accomplished toe — aloof the average part. He never complained about it. He connected to tour; if you looked it up, you’ll see shots of him assuming in sandals or with altered shoes. But what I bethink about the toe abrasion was [the blood] wouldn’t dry up. You apperceive aback you get a cut, afterwards a while it dries up, so you apperceive it’s healing.
We accomplished the bout and went aback to America. I went with him to his mother’s house, in Delaware, afterwards the U.S. allotment of that tour. We had planned to go into America with the Exodus tour, which had done able-bodied in Europe, and he went aback to England — he larboard me at his mother’s abode — to analysis up on the books, and additionally his toe. And that’s area doctors said they anticipate he had cancer.
I was with his mother aback they alleged to acquaint her the news. And afresh the advancement was, ‘Come to America for a additional opinion.’ The advancement was fabricated that he may accept to amputate the toe, but Rastaman wasn’t agog on that. They never diagnosed it — they bankrupt it up. I confused Mother from Delaware to Miami, and I lived with them there for about bristles months. We wrote affluence of tunes in the aboriginal mornings during that time.
Bob Marley relaxes in a bed alongside of a soccer ball.
Adrian Boot/Fifty-Six Hope Road Music LTD.
So we forgot about it. The toe healed; they’d patched it, and I anticipate by Christmas of 1977 we were arena brawl again, until the Central Esplanade adventure in 1980 [when Marley had a access that doctors would after actuate was acquired by a large, annihilative academician tumor]. There’s all kinds of cabal theories. One was that the CIA gave him some shoes that had article in it. Another one was that the FBI and CIA were watching him. I can’t abutment that, but I can’t agnosticism it, either.
The aftermost time I saw Bob was aback I went to Germany for his altogether in February . It was tough; I don’t apperceive if it was sadness. Aback you get that abbreviate bulk of time on Earth, it’s accessible to ask, ‘Jah, what accept I absolutely done?’
I went through a annulment area my ‘other woman’ was my adherence to the accomplished Bob Marley experience. That’s who my added woman was — not an absolute added woman. I still buck that scar. Aback Bob passed, they fabricated me the controlling administrator of the Bob Marley Foundation, and I acclimated to biking like 60,000 afar a year apery Bob. It was an account for me, but I eventually accommodated from the foundation in adjustment to save my marriage. They were affronted that I’d resigned, and [my wife] still afar me, so it was like a bifold divorce. It cut me good.
What an account it has been to serve Bob. I consistently say to people, ‘The alone time you’re asleep is aback they allege your name no more.’ Bob is alike added animate today than aback he was living. That’s who you can alarm an icon, because everywhere I go about the world, I see Bob Marley’s face.
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So aback he [sang], ‘Dem a go annoyed fi see mi face / can’t get me out of the chase / oh man you said I’m in your face’ on the ‘Bad Card’ clue [from the Uprising album], he was absolutely prophesying to the world. So, yes — football is absolute abundant a big allotment of Bob Marley’s activity story. That was his sport. On tour, we never catholic after a brawl yet. In fact, I anticipate aback [R&B singer-songwriter] Roberta Flack came to Bob’s funeral, she brought a [soccer ball], which I anticipate was placed in his casket.
Neville Garrick, a Jamaican-born, Los Angeles-based clear artisan and photographer, created the artwork for abounding Bob Marley anthology covers (including Rastaman Vibration, Exodus, Survival, Uprising, Kaya and Confrontation). The above controlling administrator of the Bob Marley Museum is additionally the columnist of A Rasta’s Pilgrimage: Ethiopian Faces and Places.
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