Marley on show

Sunday, April 06, 2014    

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PHOTOGRAPHER Dennis Morris covered the key people and events that helped diversify British culture in the 1970s. His subjects included the punk movement, minority riots in urban centres and reggae superstar Bob Marley.

Morris was a high school student when he first met Marley in 1974. The singer/songwriter was touring Britain and promoting his Island Records album, Natty Dread.

They remained friends until Marley's death from cancer at age 36 in 1981.

Twenty-eight of the photos he took of Marley are the focus of Bob Marley: GIANT, an exhibition which opened March 29 in Los Angeles at the Known Gallery.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Morris spoke about how he discovered reggae and first met Marley.

"I was into Jamaican music, and I read that he was coming over to tour England. So I bunked off school, went to the Speak Easy Club where he was playing that day, and waited and waited. Eventually he arrived, and I said, 'Can I take your picture?' He said, 'Yeah, man, come in'," Morris recalled.

That invitation extended to join Marley's groundbreaking tour of northern England, which exposed his militant sound to a country with an increasingly diverse populace.

Morris' first photo of Marley in the back of a Ford Transit van is part of the exhibition, which runs until April 12.

Dennis Morris later became art director for Island Records, designing album covers for the company's artistes including Linton Kwesi Johnson and Marianne Faithfull.

He was also lead singer for the punk-reggae band Basement 5.





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