Marley and me

By | Category: Travel destinations

Get up, stand up and follow in the footsteps of Jamaica’s most famous son on what would have been Bob’s 75th birthday

Legendary singer-songwriter, Bob Marley, is back in the spotlight once more as Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Month’ (February 1-29) – an annual celebration highlighting the Caribbean island’s musical history and heritage – gets underway. For the full low-down, visit One Love.

Learn about the life of Bob Marley

The Bob Marley Museum is a must-visit, regardless of which month you visit Jamaica. That being said, the Kingston landmark comes alive on the 6 February (Bob’s birthday) when music events, exhibitions and lectures take place from dusk until dawn. Situated on the site of the legendary’s musician’s home, which he purchased in 1975, this large colonial-era Hope Road home is where Marley recorded and lived until his death in 1981. Guided tours take you through the rooms, which are lined with gold discs. Don’t forget to take a few selfies with the famous statue of the singer in the courtyard on your way out, and enjoy a juice in the on-site One Love Cafe.  

The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston

Mile High
Marley might be synonymous with Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, but he was born (and buried) in Nine Mile – a remote district in Saint Ann Parish in the north of the island. Bob Marley devotees can visit his two-room childhood home ( +1 876-974-9848) as well as his marble mausoleum, but it’s perhaps for hardcore fans only owing to the relentless commercialisation and greedy, money-grabbing guides. As for Marley, no one need go near his grave with a seismograph: you can probably hear the spiritual singer turning from here.

Understanding rastafari
The reggae legend converted from the Christianity of his childhood to join the Rastafari Movement in the late 1960s and his subsequent lyrics were full of Rasta doctrine. Visitors can learn more about Marley’s spiritual life at the Rastafari Indigenous Village, just outside Montego Bay. Visit an organic vegetable garden, chat with the Rastas and see drum makers at work before enjoying an Ital (vegan) meal.

The Bob Marley statue outside The Bob Marley Museum

Go to GoldenEye
007 fans typically make a pilgrimage to GoldenEye, an oasis in Oracabessa where Ian Fleming famously wrote his James Bond novels. However the home of Bond also enjoys a strong reggae link: following Fleming’s death, the house was sold to reggae’s most musician in 1976 and, just 12 months later, it was bought by the founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell – the man who made Marley a star.
Today GoldenEye has been expanded into private resort loved by the A-list likes of Beyonce. Can’t afford to keep up with the Lemonade singer and stay for a night? Day tours to the property can easily be arranged.

When the going gets Tuff
Reggae aficionados will want to tick off Tuff Gong music studio – Bob was affectionately called “The Gong” and “Tuff” because you had to be to survive in the music business in Jamaica. Owned by the Marley family since 1981 and run by Bob’s son Ziggy, the studio is where Marley cut hit tracks Trenchtown Rock, No Woman, No Cry, Redemption Song and Buffalo Soldier. Visitors can access the rehearsal space and recording room via a 45-minute tour.
JAT tip: be sure to book in advance rather than just rocking up as, if someone’s recording, you may not be able to see all sections of the studio.

The legacy of the late Peter Tosh is honoured at The Peter Tosh Museum

Make time for Tosh
It’s not all about Bob… his bandmate Peter Tosh, one of reggae’s most fiery performers, finally has a museum of his own too. The Peter Tosh Museum tells the story of the outspoken member of The Wailers, who was sidelined by the Jamaican establishment, in a sensitive manner.
Mementos from Tosh’s life, including his beloved unicycle and Grammy Award which he won for his final album No Nuclear War, are all on display.

Reggae is now a global phenomenon that’s been recognised as a cultural institution by UNESCO. However it originated in Jamaica and the sound permeates the air, whenever and wherever you travel around the Caribbean’s largest and liveliest island.
Jamaica’s reggae calendar revolves around two colossal events: take a bow Rebel Salute (held every January in St Ann) and Reggae Sumfest. Jamaica’s largest reggae festival is held in Montego Bay every July and visitors can expect electrifying performances from local and international reggae acts alike. 2019 performers included Koffee, Beres Hammond, Buju Banton, Etana, Bounty Killa, Beenie Man, Spice, Agent Sasco, Dexta Dapps, Spragga Benz, Christopher Martin, Romain Virgo, Proteje and Chronixx to name but a few….

2020 marks the 28th anniversary of Jamaica’s biggest reggae festival, Reggae Sumfest

Words and pictures: Kaye Holland

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