It seems like just yesterday. But the most famous concert in the history of reggae music — probably in the history of Caribbean music in general, come to think of it — took place a quarter of a century ago. Twenty-five years after the event, the One Love Concert for Peace has attained almost mythical status in the reggae world, and it remains my single most vivid memory in a lifetime of concert going. I was only a few feet away when Bob Marley, in a dramatic finale to an evening that was never short on drama, practically forced political arch-foes Michael Manley and Edward Seaga — respectively prime minister and leader of the opposition in Jamaica at the time — to reluctantly join him on stage and even more reluctantly join hands in a gesture of peace. Not, I hasten to add, that my superb seat had anything to do with my status as a journalist visiting Jamaica to cover the show. Anything but. Jamaica was in the throes of deadly political violence, and the concert was a noble — and, sadly, unsuccessful — attempt to bring about peace. In the week leading up to the big show, the atmosphere in Kingston, was, to put it mildly, tense. So was the atmosphere in the National Stadium on April 22, with gun-toting and decidedly edgy cops and soldiers just about outnumbering the spectators.
These Rare Bob Marley Photos Show the Power of 'One Love'
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This article was originally published March 28th, In the early Sixties, Desmond Dekker, who used to work with Bob at a welding plant, auditioned for me. He put emphasis on words more than melody.
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Conceived with DVD release in mind, this high-end, live video concert taped in Jamaica lives up to its title with a generous repertoire of Bob Marley songs performed by reverent pop, hip-hop, rock, and reggae veterans. Shot on a rainy night in December , the home video version expands upon an inaugural TNT cable telecast with an additional hour of performances. The DVD edition adds a premium level of special features and exclusive content. The music's the main thing, of course, and on that front One Love is uniformly respectful, orbiting around Marley's songs and infused with whiffs of his Rastafarian world view and reggae's broader Third World perspectives. Marley's family members serve as hosts and frequent collaborators, with a limber house band further reinforcing a coherent, communal element to the performances, and the titular all-stars immerse themselves in Marley's world. Lauryn Hill opens the concert with what is clearly one of its highest points, a joyful "Turn the Lights Down Low. For most viewers, though, the scope of the concert and the first-rate sonic finish will sustain the spell, an effect powerfully expanded on the superb DVD version.
This concert was held during a political civil war in Jamaica between opposing parties Jamaican Labour Party and the People's National Party. Since he was elected Prime Minister of Jamaica in , Michael Manley pursued a socialist agenda intended to redistribute wealth by nationalizing the country's major export industries. His agenda proved to be financially unsustainable, as his policies deterred foreign investment in Jamaica. Manley was also aggressively opposed by the CIA and American business interests, as had happened to similar reformist governments in Guatemala , the Dominican Republic , and multiple other countries throughout the Americas.