BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS
Live at the Rainbow, 3 June 1977
On the night of December 3, 1976 in Kingston, Jamaica, seven armed men raided Bob Marley’s tropical compound. Four people were shot during the home invasion: Bob got hit in the chest and arm, his wife Rita was shot in the head, his manager, Don Taylor, was shot seven times over his legs and torso, and one of the Wailers’ employees, Louis Griffiths, also took one to the torso. They all survived.
The story is a little fuzzy as to who the gunmen were, but there are varying theories and reports:
1. Bob claims the leader of the Jamaican Labour Party, Edward Seaga ordered the hit. Seaga already publicly declared that Marley’s appearance at the upcoming Smile Jamaica music festival (which was scheduled to start less than 48 hours after the home invasion) was in support of his political opponent, Prime Minister Michael Manley.
2. The American Embassy released a smokescreen-like statement agreeing that people of the Jamaican Labour Party attempted to assassinate the "politically progressive" Marley. Then they threw in that it also may also have been the People's National Party who attempted to kill the local hero in an effort to make him a martyr.
3. Timothy White, author of the noted Catch a Fire says that the Jamaican Labour Party, People's National Party, AND the CIA all worked together in attempting to murder Marley. Admittedly, this one just sounds like a writer trying to tart up a book for sales, but these days, I don’t put anything past the American government.
Although Taylor claims that he and Marley witnessed the court hearing and execution of all seven assailants, we’ll still never really know who was behind the plan to assassinate Bob Marley. We just know that it was politically motivated.
Marley had supported the People’s National Party in the past, but if you asked him what party he affiliated himself with in 1976, he’d probably say the Rastafarian party. Still, a bandaged Marley arrived at the Smile Jamaica gig accompanied by Zap Pow when the Wailers went into hiding after the assassination attempt. Marley was scheduled for one song, but performed a full 14-song set to 80,000 people.
Not long after the festival and with the assassination attempt still fresh, Marley left Jamaica. He spent a month writing and recovering at Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, then he flew to London where he’d live for the next two years.
Once in London, Marley immediately began writing and recording the landmark Exodus, from late December 1976 to April 1977. When Exodus was released on June 3, 1977, Marley and the Wailers kicked off a series of concerts at the city’s hallowed Rainbow Theatre.
The record is warm and loud, listen to it here – Bob’s at the Rainbow on the day Exodus debuted. You’ve heard the songs before, it goes without saying that they sound revolutionary in a city that was going though its own culture war at the time.