Editor’s Note: You can also check out these rare and previously unreleased photographs from the book.
This is Books Music There are hundreds of books on the legacy of Bob Marley, and how reggae music became the unofficial ambassador of Jamaica through his music, but you’ll generally see the same 50 photographs over andover. Bob Marley and The Golden Age Of Reggae is a coffee table book that shines the spotlight on the photographs of Kim Gottlieb-Walker, and allows Marley and reggae fans to see and sense an insiders look that most have not known about or completely forgotten for five decades.
Gottlieb and her husband, Jeff Walker, both worked for Island Records between 1975-1976. If you know your reggae history, then those facts alone probably gave you chills. For many, this is considered the golden era of reggae music, and the photos document the period between Marley entering the mainstream and slowly embracing the rock star status some in the rock media wanted him to become. You’ll see photos of Marley and The Wailers kicking back at home and in the studio, smoking fat doobs and just kicking back. Eventually you see them becoming greater world travelers than they already were. Marley had visited the UK and Europe a number of times in the early 70′s, before Marley became known to Americans in the mid-70′s, in fact it’s safe to say that for a generation, the first Marley song they heard was not by Marley himself, but Eric Clapton‘s cover of “I Shot The Sheriff”. By Clapton, a guitar “God” to many, covering a song by an upcoming reggae superstar from an island nation, many felt this was iconic. It also didn’t hurt that Marley had an incredible push from Walker, who through his then-girlfriend, were able to capture the start of a phenomenon that continues 28 years after Marley’s passing.
Through the photographs you’ll also read essays from Gottlieb-Walker, Walker, Roger Steffans, and Cameron Crowe, all of whom share their views on this island music that North America had once considered novelty music. Marley is free to be who he is, and you see that throughout, even as the camera captures a confidence the public loved and mythologized. What’s also remarkable are the photographs of other reggae artists who have become legendary, everyone from Toots Hibbert, Third World, Burning Spear, The Heptones, and Lee “Scratch” Perry to Johnny Clarke, Augustus Pablo, Delroy Wilson, and Dillinger. For the last 30 years, most people have experienced their knowledge of reggae and ska through the filter of Marley, and nothing wrong with that, that’s what the core of this book is about. But there was a time in our history where the brotherhood in Jamaica was based on making a little money, making love, and making people happy, all through making music. Reading Bob Marley and The Golden Age Of Reggae will make you feel like you could join them in a backroom and pass a joint, and you will see Marley in a number of photos with huge amounts of the tasty ganja.
The photographs and the essays are not about what reggae became, it looks fondly as what it was like as it was happening. Let the photos speak for themselves, and it may make you a new fan of Marley and reggae music if you aren’t one, and a greater one if you are.