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May 26, 2024

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Photographer recalls touring with Bob Marley in 1977

3 min read

Photographer Kate Simon vividly recalls her time accompanying Bob Marley and the Wailers on their 1977 European tour.

Their first encounter occurred after one of Marley’s shows at London’s Lansdowne Theater, where a mutual friend introduced them.” My relationship with him was good from the beginning. You can’t really define what good chemistry is, but we had good chemistry,” Simon recalls fondly.

Marley admired Simon’s work so much that he invited him to Jamaica to shoot the iconic cover image for his ‘Kaya’ album. The collaboration paved the way for Simon to join Marley and the Wailers on their European tour, an experience immortalized in her book Rebel Music: Bob Marley and Roots Reggae.

The book, reprinted on November 7, features wonderful photographs and insightful stories shared by those who knew Marley best.When Bob Marley passed away from melanoma in 1981 at the age of 36, in reflecting on the legendary musician, Simon describes him as having “a beautiful aura. Everyone wanted to be with Bob.”

She further elaborated on Marley’s personality, emphasizing his soft-spoken demeanor and unwavering discipline.” Simon recalls, “He was always the first to board the tour bus and audition before the show.” He took his music and everyone around him very seriously.”

Even though Marley was focused on his craft, he had a mischievous side.” Simon laughed and said, “I have a couple of brothers who piss me off all the time.” In between shows, he’s always playing soccer or riding his bike. He loves sports. And he was very smart. He was a real teacher, teaching people how to love and how to stand up for their rights. I think that’s why his music has endured. He sings about these great universal thoughts, feelings and ideas.

In addition to capturing Marley’s public persona, Simon’s photographs also give us a glimpse into his private moments. In one photo, Marley is shown playing his guitar at full attention on a tour bus, a scene Simon cherishes for its authenticity.” I think he’s really in that photo. That’s Bob.

Another memorable photo captures Marley’s lighter side as he sits on a balcony and jokingly strikes a pose.” Simon explains, “Bob had this sense of humor when I first met him.” Only when he was working was he very serious and focused.

Simon’s camera also captured the iconic Kaya album cover, a photo that is still widely recognized and celebrated today.” She says happily, “It makes me happy every time I see it.

Among the poignant photos in Simon’s collection is one of Marley resting with a pensive expression.” Simon recalls, “This photo was taken after he was injured in an accident while playing soccer in Paris.” He was a very passionate athlete.

The final photo in the article shows Marley’s stage preparation routine.” Bob always wears the same denim top and jeans every day.” Then he wears a green khaki jacket. That was his entire closet, but he always looked neat.

Reflecting on his experiences with Marley, Simon emphasized his message of unity and love.” Remember, he preached interdependence. As Bob said, ‘When the rain falls, it doesn’t fall on one’s house.’ We all deserve to be together and have a love in this life.”

Through captivating photographs and intimate anecdotes, Simon offers a unique perspective on Bob Marley, an iconic musician whose music and philosophy of peace and unity have inspired generations.

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