No recording of Marley and Wailers performing in Jamaica

Friday, February 25, 2011

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JAMAICA has no concert recordings of Bob Marley and the Wailers during the '60s which represents lost history for the island, experts state.

Reasons cited included tapes left in the UK for processing, erasing, theft and decay.

"In some ways it's a disgrace that for a country with such a rich cultural history and has produced so much music that has influenced the world and continues to do so, that we have such little record of it," stated Dr Matthew Smith, who delivered the recent annual Bob Marley lecture series at the University of the West Indies.

Smith is a senior lecturer in the Department of History and Archeology with specialisation on the Haitian Revolution and Bob Marley. He also was a selector on Radio Mona for a number of years.

"From 1963 to 1973, in that ten-year span of Bob Marley and the Wailers' performance history there is no video recording or audio recording of the Wailers. And it's not until they go international that they are recorded. This is not just the Wailers alone, there were many other performers in that period. We were not recording and recognising their contribution."

Smith stated that live recordings of Marley's local concerts occurred following the mid '70s particularly however there is no documentation of Marley's rise to stardom, he added.

Musicologist Herbie Miller, who is a former manager of Peter Tosh and curator at the music museum in the Institute of Jamaica, agreed with Smith's comments.

"There is not one video where you can find of the Wailers at that time. But it's not just them. There isn't any interview of Don Drummond nor is there a video of the Skatalites, only a 30-second clip in 1962 during the Independence celebration when they were on the back of a truck," he told Splash.

Miller added that the Wailors, U-Roy, Count Ozzy other musicians would have performed on local shows in the '60s including Nuggets for the Needy and Jamaica Band Stand but "we don't have those tapes now. Where are those tapes?!"

"The minister of culture has stated that a number of tapes have disappeared from the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (the local TV station). One can read that they were illegally removed. But also in those days of recordable material you had to make up your mind which recording was going to be sacrificed to make another live one. Also you had to send the tape to the UK to get processed and sometimes no one would bother to bring them back," he said. "So now they don't belong to us anymore."

Miller stated that Jamaica needs to develop a museum culture which would facilitate the preservation of mundane items to be sorted at later periods for historical relevance.

"People don't know the value of things and we take our culture for granted," he added.

Marley is a global icon, referred to as the Che Guevara of music. His influence transcends the reggae category and last year CNN conducted an international poll which ranked him as a top-five global icon. The US-based news agency stated that the Jamaican-born musician's status was so large that he embodied both a musical form and religion.

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