Yesterday morning, I had the old i-pod loaded with Bob Marley. I was totally plugged in, and left myself plugged in for an hour or so, before I decided that I didn't want to run down the battery to the point where I couldn't be cocooned against the unwashed masses on the ride home.
Just before I left work, I checked my e-mail and there was a message from someone who said they were writing a book about Mr. Marley's live shows from the mid-seventies to his death. They'd found me via my list of concerts I'd seen, and wanted to know if I had any memories I could share.

This was my response:

I saw him in Montego, Jamaica at the first Reggae Sunsplash. Maybe it was the second. In any event, it was one of his last concerts prior to his death, so the summer of '79 or '80. The venue was a soccer stadium. The field was packed; I can't imagine that the show was not sold out.

There were armed guards at the gates. I handed my ticket into an outstreched hand, only to have a rifle dropped between me and the hand. "No, Miss," said the soldier, "That's not a ticket taker."

Other hands came from out of the crowd and unclasped my watch from around my wrist. I pulled on one end of the band, and the unseen person tugged on the other. Then the crowd surged and my watch was gone.

I was with a group of friends who had all traveled to Montego Bay for Sunsplash. There were about 8 of us, and, as I recall, we all piled into a little Ford rental to get to the show. We were two deep on laps, someone was stretched sideways across all the other's laps, making a third layer.

There were a number of opening acts: I remember Burning Spear and Peter Tosh. I remember when Bob Marley sang "Chase the Crazy Baldheads" my friends and I all looked at each other, then at the crowd, and realized... we were the only white people we could see. We just kept dancing. He was amazing. The energy on the field was palpable. But it was a little scary, too. We made jokes about the MoBay Massage, which was the pitter patter of little fingers all over your body, as anything liftable was taken off of you.

I'm sorry that I can't remember more at the moment. Twenty years, my friend, is a lifetime. But one of the guys who was with me is reachable via the internet. He's a sound engineer, and may be able to give you more details.

Did any of you ever see Bob Marley? Want to send your memories to this guy? Drop me a line, and I'll send you his request and address.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/16 at 12:03 PM in The Church of Rock & Roll

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