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"Rebellion Rises" by Ziggy Marley

Eight-time GRAMMY® award-winning musician and reggae icon Ziggy Marley will release his seventh full-length solo studio album, Rebellion Rises, on May 18th through Tuff Gong Worldwide. Fully written, recorded and produced by Marley, this passionate and indelible new collection of music encourages people to stand together in activism through love.

Pre-order the album today and stream the title track on all major music outlets at smarturl.it/rebellionrises

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Exodus 40 – The Movement Continues

Honoring 40 years since the release of TIME Magazine’s ‘Album of the Century’, Ziggy Marley intimately revisits the original session recordings, uncovering unused, never-before-heard vocals and instruction to create the restatement edition of ‘Exodus 40: The Movement Continues’!

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The Gong in Gabon, 1980

Gabon Indi Flag-bob

Music and curation courtesy of Dubwise Garage

The story begins in November 1979, during the North American leg of the Survival tour. Bob Marley & The Wailers are in Los Angeles performing a benefit concert for the Sugar Ray Robinson Foundation at the Roxy Theatre. Backstage after the show, they meet two sisters from Africa, who turn out to be the daughters of the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo. Pascaline Bongo, the elder daughter, is enamored with Bob and his music, and invites the band to come play for the people of her home country in early January.


Bob with the Bongo sisters, Pascaline (top) and Albertine (bottom)

Working with James Brown’s former booking agent – a man by the name of Bobette – as the promoter on the ground, President Bongo books two shows with Marley’s manager Don Taylor. Betty Wright, who accompanied the group as a support act during the Survival tour, is also invited to perform. Bob offers to do the show for free, however Taylor negotiates a fee for the show to cover travel and expenses. Unbeknownst to Taylor, Bob has been keeping a close eye on him for months, his suspicions raised by various whispers and “seh-seh” among those within his inner circle. Bob’s suspicions will be confirmed in Gabon as the clouds steadily gather for the coming storm.

Promotional efforts for the concerts

Upon arriving in Gabon, Marley is informed that he is playing not one, but two shows, on January 4th and 5th. Then, on the day of the first show, Bob is dealt another blow when he learns they’re heading to the Gymnase Omnisport Bongo, a relativity small athletic complex built for and named after the President. Instead of performing in a large stadium for the people, the band will be playing to a crowd of around 5,000, many of whom were personal guests of the Bongo family and members of the well-to-do Gabonese high society. Nevertheless, Bob performs an extraordinary show. The second concert is rescheduled for January 6th due to rain, but is also well received.




Live selections from the shows (click < > to scroll)

In his down time, Bob shops the local marketplaces and interacts with the people. Whether reasoning with the youth in the morning or playing football with the locals in the afternoon, Bob is a man of the people. Bob Marley is first and foremost a Rasta – black son of Africa. It is the home of his ancestors, and in many ways his home as well. He spends his days strolling on the beach and his evenings talking with fans at the hotel.

"Tell the children the Truth" #bobmarley in Gabon #Africa 1980

A photo posted by Bob Marley Archive (@bobmarleyarchive) on


After his second show, Pascaline thanks Bob for his visit, and asks to make sure he was paid for the performances. Marley is caught off guard…. As far he knew, they were doing these shows for free minus travel and lodging expenses, which had already been covered. But as they talked and the facts unfolded, his suspicions concerning Don Taylor had been confirmed. Taylor had indeed negotiated a fee for the performance, somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000– as much money as Bob or any musician was being paid at that time. And now that Bob had the facts he needed to confront Taylor, he calls a meeting with the band at the Okoume Palace Inter-Continental Hotel that night. Bob deals on Don Taylor with strict discipline – under heavy manners. According to Marley’s Art Director Neville Garrick, in his interview about the incident for the 2012 MARLEY documentary, Taylor’s dishonesty resulted in Bob “slapping him up.” By all accounts it is ugly… very ugly. Taylor leaves the meeting demoralized – a beaten man, and persona non grata among Bob and his brethren.

Excerpt from the MARLEY documentary about Bob’s trip to Gabon

As Taylor lies low during the final day or two in Gabon before heading home, Marley spends his remaining time among the French-speaking people of Gabon – Roman Catholic Christians and Protestants, all enamored with this charismatic “natty dread” who worships a black God. He is one of them, someone who relates to their daily struggles, a Rasta prophet who speaks so eloquently of the beauty of Africa. The youth in particular are intrigued by Marley’s devotion to Rastafari, which is much more a way of life than a religion.

Bob educates the youth on Rastafari culture

One morning, Marley photographer Bruce Talamon captures photos of Bob espousing his beliefs to a group of wide-eyed Gabonese youths hanging around the hotel (see photo above). It is my favorite photograph of Bob Marley – a scene reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus instructs the twelve apostles about the central tenets of Christian discipleship and advises them to seek a more perfect and “blessed” life – one that is closer to God, humble, empathetic, devoid of materialism, and grounded in mercy and righteousness. A life guided by one love for all of mankind.

But even aside from the matters with Taylor – and perhaps even more so than during his time in Ethiopia two years earlier – Bob’s trip to Africa proves to be a jadingly eye-opening experience. At the time, Gabon was a perfect representation of what life was like in many West African countries— a land rich with natural resources, where some lived like kings, but many lived in harsh poverty. To Bob, born in a shack in the Jamaican countryside and raised on the streets of Trench Town, you couldn’t say it was a shocking sight. But it was a realization. And that realization led to new ideas, ideas that would follow him forward on his next musical journey.

Uprising

Uprising album cover

Upon Bob Marley and the Wailers’ return to Jamaica, Don is summarily excommunicated from the inner circle at 56 Hope Road. As Bob turns his back to his former manager, he gets to work on a new album. It is one that looks past the overt Pan-Africanism of Survival and explores the fundamental reasons for humankind’s existence in this realm. Uprising will become Bob’s magnum opus and his bittersweet farewell to the world.

The Neville Tapes

In an exclusive and never-before-heard interview with Neville Garrick – Bob’s art director and former director of the Bob Marley Museum in Jamaica – we hear his first hand account of the trip!

Music from Dubwise Garage (bobmarleyconcerts.com)
Story by Michael Watson of midnightraverblog.com
Photo Curation by Manu Morales
(Most photos by Bruce Talamon)
Podcast by Neville Garrick and Tuff Gong Worldwide