The image above does not belong to me, it was taken by Richard E. Aaron in New York City, during a 1978 live concert. Though this image isn’t mine, please to keep a mental note of it.
“New Generation Wailer, The Return of Bob in a New Name”
I remember the first time I heard a Bob Marley song, I was no more than five(5) years old and went over to my neighbour’s house to play with his son. To memory it’s the first time I can recall even interacting with vinyl or a vinyl player. I examined this interesting device and at the same time was captivated by the words “I’m going to be higher than a lion in Zion!” Now at that tender age I had no clue what reggae was, where it came from, who this singer was, the legacy he created with the ones around him, nor that years later, 4th February, 2016 I would see him on stage performing his hits; I just knew this music felt GOOD! Now I’m well aware that the King of Reggae died on the 11th of May 1981, which is 10 years before I was even born. However believe me when I say his spirit has been reborn.
In the weeks leading up to Bob’s annual birthday celebration, I saw a flyer circulating advertising a festival called the ”One Love Music Festival”. I checked out the line up and saw Akon as the closing act. Now come on, an opportunity to scratch Akon of my list, of course I had to pounce on that chance. So, yeah it’s safe to say I went with the sole intent of capturing Akon.
Sadly, I didn’t enjoy his set at all though he sang all the hits I grew up with and loved, he lip sync’d most of his 1 hour plus performance. However it was that fated Friday night, during the “One Love Music Festival” in Montego Bay, Jamaica I saw a ghost. From stage right a figure walked on, a physique resembled someone of the past, a memory one wished had lived on in the physical realm. Dressed in his slim cut pants, around his shoulders was the famed 1970s Gibson Les Paul Special guitar, Locs unkempt and raggedy. I watched as this person stepped on stage stood in front of the mic, and that’s when it hit me.
When it came to capturing Skip Marley, it was more than just capturing the moment or Skip himself. It was more about documenting and telling the story of a Legacy. The reanimation of the great Bob, through the body of his grandson. I studied him, as much as Skip might have studied his grandfather. Each photograph I took was carefully captured and curated, to elevate and almost mystify Skip as the return of The Gong.
Countless people have tried to imitate or copy Bob’s speech, sound and movements, even his own sons, and I don’t believe that’s such a bad thing. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. As a child, you learn by repeating what your parents say or do, so it’s no doubt that a child of Bob, moreover his grandson would want to do the same. Especially since besides appearance, he also shared a similar name with Bob. Skip or Skippy was a nick name of Robert’s, and when Cedella Marley gave birth to her first son, she gave him that name.
There was a point I looked at my friend Nas and showed her my images; I remember her being impressed and I said to her, “I’m still not satisfied, there is one more shot I need to capture.” I described the shot to her, and told her I was going stage left(right of the stage from the audience’s perspective) to and lay wait the shot; I knew the angle I wanted to capture the photograph from and I also knew during which song he might give the particular pose I was awaiting. So there I was, camera composed and patiently waiting like tiger waiting for the prey…
“Old pirates, yes, they rob I,
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.”
This was the cue I was waiting for, now I was going capture my last shot. The moment I was waiting on came but of course It would occur when I lowered my camera to rest my hand for a quick second. Disappointed with myself, I cursed and said in my mind, “he has to do it again”. This time I got comfortable, braced against the fence, locked my elbows to my side and waited…
“Won’t you help to sing,
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had,
…And there it was; the pose I had long waited for. I took 3 final photos, at three different exposures, just in case I missed the correct exposure in the first image. I lowered my camera, and filled with joy and satisfaction, I walked over to Nas, rejoiced with her and just enjoyed the rest of his performance.
Earlier in the set I had seen the composition, I wanted , after capturing another photo above. I thought it would be really amazing to capture Skip Marley stretching his arm forward like his Grandfather, but at that early point I gathered it would be a long shot. Luckily I didn’t hold fast to that thought. For now I can boast to be the only photographer with this photograph.
Skip Marley’s Tribute to Bob Marley song list:
- Intro(Eden)-Bob Marley
- Positive Vibration-Bob Marley
- Roots Rock Reggae-Bob Marley
- Life-Skip Marley
- Chances Are-Bob Marley
- Redemption Song- Bob Marley
- Cry for Me-Skip Marley
- Three Little Birds-Bob Marley
Please don’t steal my images, if you are interested in using or purchasing my images, contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or 876-582-1860.
-Jik-Reuben, The Visual Ninja, March 2016.