Marley's last showFriday, April 09, 2021
BY BRIAN BONITTO
The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk presents the sixth in a series titled Bob Marley — The Last 40 Days to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his passing.
TWO days after collapsing before a friendly football game at Central Park in New York, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed at Stanley Theater (now The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The gig, on September 23, 1980 would be the final of the reggae king's Uprising tour, which began in Europe in May.
Allan “Skill” Cole, Marley's manager and confidante, said you could feel excitement in the air.
“It was a full house of mostly white people... the whole Uprising tour all through Europe was mostly white people. I can't remember the opening act in Pittsburgh, but the man [Bob] mash up di place. Dem [the audience] loved it,” Cole told the Jamaica Observer.
After the Pittsburgh performance, Cole said he pulled the plug on the remaining dates. And, 40 years after Marley's death, he still feels it was the right decision.
“A me call off the tour. A me stop the show. Mi deh wid him [Bob] every day and mi see di man state of mind. I just had to do it. Mi couldn't mek di man drop down pon stage. Remember, di [American] doctor [two days before] did give him weeks to live because the cancer had spread throughout his body,” he disclosed.
“At the concert, Bob a sey: 'Stay close to me,' fearing he would have a seizure on stage. No sah... Him used to take Mylanta for di seizures... It was di right decision to stop the show and make the man go deal wid him health,” Cole continued.
He said he called American promoter/producer Danny Sims and advised him of the development.
Marley started chemotherapy in the United States, which Cole felt had an adverse effect on him. He went to West Germany for alternative medical treatment under Dr Josef Issels.
Cole said during treatment in West Germany, Marley released the song, I Know.
“I Know was di last song that Bob released. Me and Bob had a discussion an' I said dat song described perfectly what was happening at the time: 'When the race gets hard to run; It means you just can't take the pace; When it's time to have your fun; You find the tears run on down through your face; Then you stop and think a little. Are you a victim of the system?' “ Cole recited.
“So we called Denise Mills from Island Records. She was Chris Blackwell's liaison officer and told her and dem released it,” he said.
The former Nautico and Atlanta Chiefs striker said that he and Marley wrote I Know which was supposed to be part of his Exodus (released in June, 1977) album, but did not make it due to space constraints.
Marley lost his battle to cancer on May 11, 1981. He was 36.
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