Memories of an I ThreeTuesday, May 11, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
Former I Three member Judy Mowatt says the back-up trio was integral in executing Bob Marley's vision.
“To be a part of the I Three was not about fame or fortune, money, glitz [or] glamour, but I saw it as a high calling of God knowing Bob was fulfilling his God-given purpose, and we were supporters of the mission,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Marley, who died on May 11, 1981, was also supported by his wife, Rita, and Marcia Griffiths who formed the I Three in 1974.
Mowatt remembers that on the morning he died there was a pall of gloom.
“A Monday morning, I was alone on my verandah [when] the phone rang and the person on the other end said: 'Bob is gone. He made his final departure.' I didn't want to believe it, I could not believe it, so I ran to the radio to see if there was some news and then I heard, 'newsflash: Reggae superstar Bob Marley had just passed in [a] hospital in Miami'. I was frozen. I looked outside [and] the morning was kinda gloomy. The sun wasn't really shining, and you could feel that there was a marked difference in the atmosphere. I felt weak in my stomach. I began crying and the phone calls started coming in back-to-back,” she recalled.
Although Marley had been optimistic about making a full recovery, Mowatt noted that close to his death, he bargained for relief with God.
“While Bob was undergoing treatment in Germany, I spoke to him once and I was so happy to hear his voice. He gave me the impression I would soon see him. Other times, I depended on the assessment of others there with him for information. The news I received made me hopeful, but there was always a 'what if' deep in my heart… Marcia and I communicated regularly to share what little information we received. I remember one Sunday evening I was speaking to Rita on the phone, and she told me that she went to the hospital to see him and when she got there his hands were held up and he was saying, 'Jesus take me.' He was experiencing such excruciating pain…,” Mowatt disclosed.
Now a committed Christian, Mowatt shared a favourite memory with the king of reggae.
“ My Black Woman album was locally distributed by Tuff Gong Records. They organised an album launch at Mico Teachers' [College] auditorium. I was onstage delivering a few of the songs when someone said to me, 'Bob is in the audience' I could not believe it. It was difficult for me to contain my excitement. He was the only one that showed up from all the musicians,” Mowatt said.
She added that Bob Marley will be remembered forever because of his dedication to his fans.
“His legacy is the selfless sacrifices he made; how he poured himself night and day to create music that is more relevant today than back then,” she said.
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