Promoting the One Love Peace Concert

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, April 16, 2018

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This month marks the 40th anniversary of the One Love Peace Concert. The Jamaica Observer presents a series of stories leading up to its April 22 staging.

Howard Moo Young was the self-described creative force at the Moo Young/Butler public relations agency in 1978 when they were given the job to promote the One Love Peace Concert, scheduled for April 22, at the National Stadium in Kingston.

He and former Radio Jamaica broadcaster Radcliffe Butler formed the company in the early 1970s and had established it as a leading player in a competitive industry.

In a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer, Moo Young recalled his involvement in what was arguably Moo Young/Butler's biggest project. It was a concert featuring the biggest names in reggae, to be attended by Prime Minister Michael Manley of the People's National Party (PNP) and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

For four years, their supporters were embroiled in a bloody war that played out mainly in Kingston's garrison communities. Moo Young remembered the tension, and folly, of the times.

“Man used to fight 'gainst brother, sister and father just because dem wear green (JLP colour) or orange (PNP). You could not wear a green shirt or drive a green Lada, or wear a orange shirt or drive a orange Lada,” he said. “I remember the girls at St Hugh's (High School) being stoned because they wore green uniforms!”

Moo Young does not remember who reached out to Moo Young/Butler to promote the show, but said he and Butler immediately set in motion a strategy that would make it surpass Smile Jamaica, a peace concert initiated by the Manley Government two years earlier, days before the 1976 General Election.

The One Love Peace Concert had an elite cast. Bob Marley, who headlined Smile Jamaica in December 1976 just two days after he was shot, returned to Jamaica for a similar roleafter 14 months in exile. While living in England, he was approached by leaders of the feuding gangs to be a major figure in an event many saw as the last throw of the dice for peace.

Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, Marley's former colleagues in The Wailers, would also participate, as would Jacob Miller and Inner Circle, Dennis Brown, Junior Tucker, Culture, Zap Pow, and Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus.

Moo Young/Butler was not a newcomer to show promotion. The agency enjoyed some success bringing American soul acts Margie Joseph, The Chi Lites and Blue Magic to Jamaica.

This, however, was a different kettle of fish.

“We did billboards, television, radio…the whole promotion. We didn't have to do any great advertisement because it was an easy sell,” Moo Young said.

A flyer for the event in the living room of his St Andrew home projects the period. It had the artistes billed and cost to attend: $5 for grandstand, $2 for bleachers.

Even as he and Butler focused on promotion, Butler thought about covering the show from a personal level. A professional photographer since the early 1960s, he had captured key figures and moments in post-Independence Jamaica, as well as the divisive Manley years.

As April 22 approached, he had a premonition that the One Love Peace Concert would be an extraordinary assignment.

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