Do You Remember Where You Were When Bob Marley Passed?

Posted: 15/05/2011 in Caribbean, Current Affairs, Inspirational, Music, Reggae

Bob Marley courtesy of World Music Central

The Day when the news broke that the King of Reggae, Robert Nesta Marley had passed is a day I will never forget. The 11th of May 1981, I remember that the sun was out that morning, we were travelling to school while driving passed another school. Right before the news broke I saw children playing and remembering wishing to myself that I could be playing with my friends. At that moment began one of my earliest memories of the country of Jamaica having a collective moment, emotion and spirit. The day became very heavy, steeped with hard felt loss.
This was long before I would be exposed to various perspectives of Marley’s life through the writings of people like Malika Lee Whitney, Dermot Hussey and Roger Steffens. These writings showed the history of the Wailers, the evolution and impact of their music, the nuances of Marley, and specifically the far-reaching international effect of the music that was made in Jamaica. Even the film characterization by Will Smith of the life of the King in the movie “Legend” (named after the album, with the main character being named Robert).
I remember feeling cheated since my mother forbade me from going to the very famous One Love Peace Concert in 1978 (a very sensible decision since at that point I had not even seen my tenth birthday yet). There was definitely a uniform feeling of loss and recognition that we Jamaicans had lost someone extremely amazing, powerful, prophetic and most importantly, who was ours.
There was confusion and true disappointment, there was a general consensus that Marley was going to get well, going to beat the cancer, probably come back even stronger and more powerful than before. Alas that was not to be. The day though was filled with memories of my favourite moments that I had accumulated so far in my short life. I was too young to articulate it then, but there was the beginning of the understanding that I had been exposed to a very special period of Jamaican and Reggae music. A period I would later hear called the golden era.
Yes I remember the day we lost a King, one of Jamaica’s greatest sons, probably Reggae’s greatest. I will never forget that day, but it will not be as powerful as the memory of the King’s music, performances and impact.

Below is a video of part of that One Love Peace Concert.

  1. Toya says:

    Been listening to Bob all mi life, but in this era of mi life, his words can not be truer or more fitting. I am in awe of his works…what a blessing to have such music for mi ears….and heart. Singing, “I’ll be forever loving bob”…


  2. @relojes Thank u!


  3. @aberrombie discount: What position?


  4. @ladylaleebella Big Respect! Keep up the good work!


  5. I never thought I would agree with this option.


  6. I too have made my mark on the Bob Marley legacy. Although I was no where near close to the age where I would have met Marley or even fathom the impact of his death, I am apart of the current generation of West Indians that take pride in being apart of the new movement for Reggae. The impression Robert Marley has left on my heart through his music, spreads through every aspect of my creative being & inspires me to continue the work he set out to do with the underlying message that there is only 1 Love and 1 Heart, We all must unite to feel alright! I Hope you will in turn check out my Blog post also inspired by the late and great Bob Marley titled Our Reggaelution:


  7. @Maria, Real Talk! Thank you for those words. I have to admit that emotional unity in tragedy or triumph I did take for granted while in Jamaica and something I sorely miss whenever I am away. Yes I do feel lucky to have been alive in that era although very young.

    @Ms. Toi Thank you


  8. Ms Toi says:

    Great post. Can’t believe it has been thirty years since the great Bob Marley’s passing.


  9. Maria says:

    Wow, that article sent a shiver down my spine…
    I can only wish that I had been around when Bob Marley’s wondrous spirit left us.
    Twice now, I have marvelled at how a nation can unite in tragic – and positive – circumstances; the aura of an Island mourning is totally palpable…and you are lucky to have been involved.

    How your desire to go to Marley’s concert at 10 years old made me smile!!! Your mother was a smart woman…:-)
    Alas, you were in the midst of history, of greatness and of love. Congratulations.
    I am beginning to love your words.


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