Caribbean Nights:

A BBC documentary

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You can buy this
BBC documentary 
on Bob Marley here!
Caribbean Nights:
A BBC documentary on
the life of Bob Marley
This video was produced in association with Island Visual Arts and is distributed by PolyGram Records. It was the winner of the 1988 ACE Award for TV Programming Excellence. You can order this video at or CyberSuperstores.

Live at the Lyceum, London, July 18, 1975

Bob, the country boy

Sticko, a friend of Bob from Nine Miles, Jamaica:

That's Bob's house. Bob used to be living over there, long time now, about 16, 17 years old.

Is that where he lived before he went to Kinston?
Yes, he was born there, born down the bottom and he was living up there.


But you see, Bob was very different from most of the musicians that were in town. You see, Bob had a part of the country in his life already, which in most of the musicians in town, they haven't been to country. They don't know what is about country. They don't know about time, they don't know about nature and all these things. That is what Bob really had over most of these musicians.

Coming to Kingston

Marley came to Kingston in 1959 to live with his aunt.

Where did you live in Kingston, what part?

Uhh, East, they call it East Kingston, out inna de east and then we go up, up a place named Oxford Street, you know, down to Spanish Town Road, then up to Trench Town.

Yes. So for a long time things were kind of lean?

Well, yes, thing was kind of lean and scant, it leave to what is your expectation in how you do, you know. To me it was lean but I could stand it, coming from the country where you learn to do things, where you learn to depend on family and all of that. You go out and you plant your own corn and you watch the corn grow. When the corn grow you pick your own corn, you know what I mean? All of them fruits 'pon them tree you can get them. So...

It's a little different though in town?

Yeah-he-he (laughs).

Gotta do different things to eat?

Well inna de city it's a whole different ball game, you know. People have to go to work, catch the bus. In a de country all you do you go for the donkey and you ride the donkey to the farm and you're cool. In a de city people has to catch the bus, go to work, get off work, come back home, you know. It's all a different thing up there.

Bull Bay, St. Andrew

Bull Bay is near Kingston. It is the home of a Rasta community who live off the land, shunning any of the benefits of Babylon. Marley and the other Wailers would retreat there from time to time.

Members of a Bull Bay Rasta community:

When he leave Trenchtown, when he leave Trenchtown he came into Bull Bay area. He came into Bull Bay area, he and Gabby. (...) He is not around. He first, he have a home around a place we call Parna. And the scheme. Then he have another one up at the scheme [ public housing estate, JW]. That way he was really resident. And Judy Mowatt also come along with him and have a house, top sides.

Bob Marley, Judy Mowatt and Bunny Wailer, we all, you know, ran up and down on the sand, regularly. From here, Jah Mack, a little dread who lived here, would congregate there first and one at a time... We cook and we smoke and he like that...

How long have you
been a Rasta?

From the 1980 interview with Gil Noble

How long have you been a Rasta?

Well, I've been a Rasta from ever since. You know. But, is not how long I've been a Rasta, is how long it takes you to grow up. Cause, what you is is what you is, from beginning to the end, you can never change 'cause even if you adopt things, later on they filter right out. So I was Rasta from creation, you know. Is not an easy thing to explain in a educated standard of way, still you have people who can do it. Me is a common sense man, that mean when me explain things me explain it in a very simple way that mean even when me explain it to a baby the baby will understand too, you know.

Were you born as a Rasta? How did that evolve?

The thing that was there get growing up stronger, come to Kingston, meet some more people, them people is a Rasta. Then I talk to them to find out it was the same thing I have inside. Same thing.

How old were you when this started to happen?

This is about 17, 18, you know. Find out it was what I had been introduced, the same thing I had, what a Rastaman talk about. So that is how I could identify myself with a Rasta, by not changing, you know.

The assassination attempt

Gil Noble asks Bob about the assassination attempt:

Where were you hit?

Me? [pointing out his chest] left some... [lifting his arm]

Yeah. Went right through or just skinned it?
Nah, them say lugs inside.

You never saw the gunmen?
At that time, no.

But you know who did it?


Where they caught?

Well, but I don't call the police. It's just one of them things...

[One of the attackers was later found hanged in a tree. Another disappeared without trace. There is some suggestion that they were lynched.]

Judy Mowatt on Bob

[Judy was one of the "I-Threes" and a very close friend of Bob. In 1976 Bob agreed to play at a concert during the Jamaican elections. Shortly before that concert an attempt was made on his life but luckily Bob was only injured but not killed. A few days later Bob went ahead with the concert, despite the death threats.]

But I can remember seeing him walking fast up de step, and people listen him and by the time we could push our way through the crowd to reach on stage Bob was singing, already singing "War".

The people was really raging, you know, you can feel: The people now know that this man has risked his life for us, this is a man that has given his life, because he showed them the wound, the bandage...

I had gotten to realize in reading my Bible that this man was really Joseph in his second advent, Joseph who his brothers had sold into Egypt and it was Joseph who redeemed his brothers who would have starved to death because of the famine in Egypt, and not only his brothers but for the world in that time. And I saw in the man that this time he came not only with the physical corn to feed his people but he came with the spiritual corn, which was the message that transcended to the four corners of the world.

"He was a real leader"

Chris Blackwell (Island Records):

Well he was a real leader, a real folk leader, in a real sense, he was really that, you know. He never changed from that, he never essentially changed as a person at all, he was the same person all the time, essentially. When he had, when he got his fancy car, a BMW, which he said was rightfully his, it stood for Bob Marley and the Wailers, but when he would drive into the ghetto he would never lock the car, he would just get out of it and leave the windows open or whatever. He never separated himself from the people.

And do you think they enjoyed his success, and his material success as well?

Very much so, definitely!
Because he was a generous hearted person. He wasn't a mean spirited person, he was very generous person. He kept about...
About 4000 people were living in some way through him in Jamaica.

Bob's illness

Chris Blackwell (Island Records):

I was in New York and he came into the appartment and he told me, you know, told me that he was very sick and that, he thought he'd be OK but he was told he was very sick and he would have to go to a certain treatment.

Did you... As it progressed, the illness, do you think it... How far was he affected, how far was he optimistic and how far was he fatalistic about it?

He seemed optimistic right up until almost the very end. Cause he went through all the treatment in Germany, I went to visit him in Germany and...

What did you think when you saw him there, how did you feel?

I was horrified when I saw him there, because he looked, he looked 80 years old. Completely different.

Bob's passing away

Judy Mowatt (I-Threes):

It was broad daylight and there was this great, huge thunder in the heavens and a flash of lightning that came through the house. You know, everybody could see that it came through my house, it came through the window and lodged for about a second on Bob's picture, you know, and for who didn't know at the time, because the radio stations hadn't gotten the news, you know, officially to announce it. But people could know that something had happened, and, like the heavens was really responding to like, a great force being taken away from the physical plane of the earth but nobody knew until they heard the news that, you know, Bob had passed.

A good friend

Peter Tosh:

You know there are times when you have a good friend and he passes away and you don't even try to think about what was the past 'cause it bring back too much sad memories. So me no wanna deal with that subject.

"A tenth of a circle"

Joe Higgs:

What I can't question and I have no right to, is the man's death. What are the limitations or what are the cause, he died as a very young man and you know, Jah work mystically, you know. 36 is just one tenth of a circle. So me don't know what part him a play, him play part in a circle. Cycle of life, which is 360 degree.

Do you think he's still alive?

It is not for me to say... in terms that man knows not his limit. You know, it is not guaranteed that you live from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Is not guaranteed, you understand! Some man say reincarnation and stuff like that, there are all different labels for different beliefs but... Jah know all things best, understand?

Bob's funeral

Judy Mowatt (I-Threes):

All of Jamaica turned out, from the babe on the breasts, the school children and, you know, even the elderly, everybody came out.

I have been to funerals before and it was more a reverent and more solemn occasion but this was like a jubilee, you know. Everybody had a nice time. Music was in front and the procession was going very fast and I can remember, the car that had the coffin broke down in a place called, uhm, Cotton Tree and we're there for a while and we ate and it was like a... outing!

I was so glad that I was able to bless my eyes on his birth place. I wasn't able to even see the mausoleum because of the huge crowd that was there. Even people who had not known him in his lifetime came out to see and pay their respects to him.

It was like... a jam session!

Bob's gift

Neville Garrick (friend and album cover artist):

But he's not a angry man in that kind of way. He's a angry man for the cause of black people and all people, but not a angry man in the usual way. But as him say in one of him songs: You give your more to receive your less, which he's really found what is true. You give your more to receive your less.


Light like a feather but it heavy like lead. (Both laugh)

You know Bob lyrics is really real, real, real, real. Since reading the songs of King David in the bible I really don't come across anyone that really get that gift lyrically to deliver, really, God's message, you know?

'Cause, Bob never struggled to write a song yet. As him say, him say, him say, is Jah write all him songs anyway.

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