Thursday, May 11, 2006
Bob Marley more famous than John Lennon
I attended one of Marley's last shows - at Madison Square Garden in September 1980, the same day Bob collapsed jogging in Central Park. Despite being weak, he performed that night and the following night at the Garden on an R&B bill with the Commdores and Kurtis Blow. His last show came in Pittsburgh on September 23.
How did Bob die? The story goes that he stepped on a rusty nail while playing soccer barefoot in Africa. When the foot became gangrenous, he refused treatment. The infection spread to his brain. Marley and his wife Rita were shot in 1976, fueling conspiriacy theories that Bob was "given cancer" (Burning Spear once told me Bob had been shot by a "cancer dart," others believe Marley was the recipient of a pair of sneakers that included a wire that, when it stabbed him, transmitted cancer cells).
Whatever you think, Bob Marley is bigger now than when he was alive. James Henke, author of Marley Legend (he's also curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of my former editors at Rolling Stone), claims Marley's more famous now than John Lennon.
"They had very similar philosophies," he tells Evelyn McDonell in Miami Herald. "But the worldwide impact of Bob is much stronger. If you look at pure sales figures, Bob is a more vital artist now in terms of people still buying his music. Bob has this much broader appeal.''
Yes, mon. And he smoked more ganja. To read McDonnell's compelete story: CLICK HERE
On the other hand, is such a debate really healthy? Does anyone actually think either Mr. Marley or Mr. Lennon would approve of our judging them by record sales 25 years after their deaths?
Let's remember Bob today - and keep him with us everyday - but let's also remember there's plenty of room for the genius of John Lennon as well...
Maybe what I'm saying is, let's not turn this into a pissing contest between dead artists.