|Bob Marley Blvd, Brooklyn, NY|
|Written by Amir Akbar|
|Monday, 03 July 2006|
(Originally appeared in Street Hype - Community Lifestyle Newspaper - Issue July 3-16, 2006 - p.9)
The legend of Bob Marley has found a permanent home in Brooklyn, New York. The bustling stretch of Church Avenue, between Remsen Avenue and East 98 th Street in Brooklyn, was co-named Bob Marley Boulevard in a gala ceremony held on July 1, 2006.
Jamaican Michael Russell, Chairman of Community Board 17 in Brooklyn, who worked with other board members to push the initiative, has called the event a significant development for the Caribbean community.
Members of Marley's family, CARI-COM diplomats and New York politicians were in attendance. Ambassador Basil K. Bryan, CD, Jamaica's Consul General to New York speaking welcomed the hundreds of Jamaicans and other Caribbean Nationals who came out to witness the co-naming of Church Avenue to Bob Marley Blvd and he also bring greetings on behalf of the Jamaican government.
Bob Marley's career stretched back over twenty years. During that time Marley's growing style encompassed every aspect in the rise of Jamaican music, from ska to contemporary reggae. That growth was well reflected in the maturity of the Wailers' music.
Bob's first recording attempts came at the beginning of the Sixties. His first two tunes, cut as a solo artist, meant nothing in commercial terms and it wasn't until 1964, as a founding member of a group called the Wailing Wailers, that Bob first hit the Jamaican charts.
The record was "Simmer Down," and over the next few years the Wailing Wailers -- Bob, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, the nucleus of the group -- put out some 30 records that properly established them as one of ihe hottest groups in Jamaica.
Despite their popularity, the economics of keeping the group together proved too much and the two other members, Junior Braithwaite and Beverley Kelso, left the group. At the same time Bob joined his mother in the United States. This marked the end of the Wailing Wailers.
Marley's stay in America was shortlived, however, and he returned to Jamaicato join up again with Peter and Bunny. By the end of the Sixties, with the legendary reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry at the mixing desk. The Wailers were again back at the top in Jamaica. The combination of the Wailers and Perry resulted in some of the finest music the band ever made. Tracks like "Soul Rebel," "Duppy Conquerer," "400 Years," and "Small Axe" were not only classics, but they defined the future direction of reggae.
It's difficult to properly understand Bob Marley's music without considering Rastafari. His spiritual beliefs are too well known to necessitate further explanation. It must be stated, however, that Rastafari is at the very core of the Wailers" music.
In 1970 Aston Familyman Barrett and his brother Carlton (bass and drums, respectively) joined the Wailers. They came to the band unchallenged as Jamaica's HARDEST rhythm section; a reputation that was to remain undiminished during the following decade.
At the end of the European tour, Bob Marley & The Wailers went to America. Bob played two shows at Madison Square Garden but, immediately afterwards he was seriously ill. Cancer was diagnosed.
Marley fought the disease for eight months. The battle, however, proved to be too much. He died in a Miami Hospital on May 11,1981.
A month before the end Bob was awarded Jamaica's Order of Merit, the nations' third highest honor, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the country's culture.
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