Dear Bob, Thanks For All Of It

Arba Mintch

As coincidences go, this one is nothing but typical: Seth’s post about wrapping up the first leg of his scientific expedition in Jamaica is there to be read; this song is coming through the earbuds (do yourself a favor and find it; do the estate of the artist a favor by finding a legal copy to ensure royalties go where they belong); I am looking out over the most fertile lands in Ethiopia, getting ready to board a boat to pass by the hippos and 7-meter long crocodiles that live in the water in the distance (in the photo above) and then climb the hills to where the zebras roam, to see what we can see. And then perfectly, as I glance at the news, a small feature catches my attention:

When people ask where I live and I say Jamaica, it’s almost a given that someone will then randomly say “ah, Bob Marley” in response. It can grate that one man can define an entire country, but this man was that most rare of individuals, an icon, the man who introduced reggae to the world and who drove an equally iconic vehicle, a Series III Land Rover.

I care nothing about cars, but at the moment the story catches my attention I am deeply immersed in the earliest recordings of Bob Marley as preparation for the exploration of Ethiopia. So I read on about this car in Jamaica. And the playlist continues, now Chances Are (again, find it; from when the artist was living in the USA, but this was not released until years later and never got the airplay it deserved) makes me want to know even more about this Land Rover before getting into that boat. Thanks, Bob, for prepping me for the beauty of Ethiopia, and sending me on my way today in good spirits.

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One of my favourite shots of Marley is of him behind the wheel of his 1976 Series III, a truck design that has pretty much remained in production since 1948. Its latest and final guise, the Defender, will stop production at the end of 2015.

For Marley, the Land Rover fit perfectly; as a nature-loving Rasta who hailed from the rural Parish of St Ann, he felt an affinity with the countryside and needed a vehicle that would handle the rough roads of the island’s interior.

Since his death in 1981, his truck, unlike his reputation, faded away, and for years stood neglected in the car park at 56 Hope Road, Marley’s uptown Kingston home that became a museum dedicated to his life and music.

The Victorian-era building is a well-preserved time warp, with rooms left in the same way as when he was alive; the blue matte truck cab, in contrast, was left to deteriorate.

Land Rovers are tough and can last many lifetimes over, but the four-by-fours made in Solihull, England, were in the past renowned for their inconsistent panel work, resulting in chassis and bulkhead rot.

So to celebrate what would have been Marley’s 70th birthday, Sandals International Resorts, which operates Jamaica’s Land Rover dealership, worked with the Marley family to restore the classic truck.

On 6 February at the Bob Marley Museum, the crowds came out in force to celebrate, taking in a free concert in remembrance of All Things Bob.

Members of the Marley family were in attendance, along with hundreds of supporters. There was no need for a smoke machine, as a thick haze of ganja smoke sat over the crowd for the duration of the event.

The Rasta colours of red, gold and green were everywhere, but a touch of silver caught the eye on the opposite side of the stage.

Under wraps was the other star of the day – Marley’s Series III – and when it was finally revealed it came as a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t a nut-and-bolt, chassis-off rebuild, the sort that’s becoming more and more popular with these cars, but rather a sympathetic restoration. It had the patina of age on the stainless steel trim pieces, but it was still Bob’s old car.

The musician needed a spacious vehicle. Ky-Mani, one of at least 11 children the singer is known to have fathered, remembered the truck from his childhood…

Read the whole article here.

4 thoughts on “Dear Bob, Thanks For All Of It

  1. Pingback: Food To Come Home To, Ghana Edition | Raxa Collective

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  3. Pingback: Words, Landscapes, And Pondering Ethiopia | Raxa Collective

  4. Pingback: What A Certain Change Of Scenery Can Do | Raxa Collective

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