Bubblin' on the Top 100Monday, May 03, 2021
The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk presents the 26th in a series titled Bob Marley — The Last 40 Days to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his passing.
Play I on the R&B, I want all my people to see
We bubblin' on the Top 100, just like a mighty dread
Play I some music, this a reggae music
— from Roots Rock Reggae
AFTER successfully conquering Europe, Bob Marley and his Uprising tour shifted focus to mainstream America in September of 1980.
The United States campaign started successfully, with Bob Marley being the opening act for high-flying rhythm and blues act The Commodores in two of the early gigs .
Tommy Cowan, marketing manager at Marley's Tuff Gong company, joined him on that leg of the tour. He said the singer wanted to make inroads in the US market and was listening to non-reggae performers.
“That day he was at Danny Sims' house on Fifth Avenue. I think it's the day after he dropped down in the park, and he was listening to the Bee Gees's Stayin' Alive. I said to him: “How come you're listening to that? He said: 'But these guys sold millions of copies and if dem do that, I waan know how come dem do that? That's why I'm listening,” Cowan told the Jamaica Observer.
Sims was an American show promoter and former manager of Marley. He died on October 3, 2012 of colon cancer at age 75.
Released in 1977, Stayin' Alive was a smash hit for The Bee Gees. It climbed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1978, remaining there for four consecutive weeks.
“I never really see him trying to listen to people thing apart from that time... It was the only time I saw him listening to, actually, somebody's music with an intensity, 'cause he was really listening,” recalled Cowan.
He said Marley stayed original for most of his career.
“I've never heard Bob Marley singing on anybody's rhythm. But, I think he got influenced by American singer Curtis Mayfield on One Love, which he got credited,” Cowan noted.
One Love/People Get Ready contains an interpolation of The Impressions' People Get Ready, written by Mayfield. In 1999, BBC named One Love Song of The Millennium, citing its global appeal for peace.
During the New York leg of the Uprising tour, Marley was diagnosed with cancer after collapsing in Central Park. His last performance was at the Stanley Theater (now The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh on September 23, 1980.
He died on May 11, 1981 of cancer. He was 36.
None of his albums were mega sellers while he was alive. But, after his death, Marley's global appeal soared, so did album sales, including the compilation Legend which has sold over 25 million copies worldwide.
“A lot of the stuff he accomplished is after he died. That's the thing that is mystifying. Remember, Legend is [one of] the longest albums on the Billboard Chart. In a sense, he lived in his time and, at the same time, was before his time,” Cowan stated.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login