June 29 – When The Who Made A Royal Noise

One of the biggest concerts of the decade took place this day in 1996. Queen wasn’t there but it was still a “royally” good time for the 100 000 or more people that went to Hyde Park in London for the Prince’s Trust Concert. Although they were the middle of the schedule, most seemed to feel that The Who, playing the entirety of Quadrophenia stole the show.

The Prince’s Trust is a British charity begun by, appropriately enough, Prince Charles back in 1976. It aims to help out young people (under 30) who are struggling, either with school or employment, largely by providing tutoring and training. It has helped out over 800 000 people through the years and raised funds in a variety of ways, not the least of which being frequent big name concerts. The first was held in an arena in Birmingham in 1982. Charles no doubt had a little help from his Lady Di – a confirmed rock fan- to bring in Status Quo, Kate Bush, Phil Collins and others for that.

The ’96 gig was the first to be held in spacious Hyde Park and had on the bill Alanis Morissette, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and The Who among others. Morissette kicked it off with a six-song set of her hits, beginning with “Ironic”. One reviewer remembers her dancing so much that her sunglasses flew off her head into the crowd, giving one lucky concert-goer an unexpected souvenir! Unnoticed then, but of significance now, she was backed with a band that included the late Taylor Hawkins, who’d soon leave for the Foo Fighters. Clapton was on late, playing a 14-song, largely “unplugged” set beginning with “Layla” and including some of his hits such as Cream’s “White Room” and “Wonderful Tonight” as well as a few old covers, like Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

In between, The Who (introduced on stage by Jools Holland) ran through their 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia – considered by many their high-water mark- for the first time in over a decade to the delight of the large crowd. They were joined by a number of guests during the performance, including Gary Glitter and David Gilmour, who played guitar on two numbers.

Prince’s Trust still holds concerts some years although there doesn’t appear to be one slated for this year; they seemed to run a Red Carpet fashion show (albeit one hosted by Lionel Richie) this year instead. The 1996 one was quickly released on home video although it seems only the Who’s performance is featured.

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June 19 – Clapton’s Song For The Day

Wishing all our readers who are dads a very happy Father’s Day! Hope you get to put your feet up, do what you like and of course, listen to some good tunes along the way.

In honor of the day, we figured it would be a good time to give a new listen to a song written about fathers…one not quite as biting as “Father of Mine” by Everclear nor as tear-jerking as the classic “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin but a good, reflective pop tune from one of the greats – “My Father’s Eyes” by Eric Clapton.

Clapton, as you might know had an “interesting” childhood. That because while he seemingly had an OK relationship with the man he long thought to be his father, it turned out he didn’t even know his real dad. Clapton’s mom, it turned out, was the gal he thought was his older sister. She was only just 16 when she had him, in 1945, having been seduced by a Canadian troop, Edward Fryer. It’s not entirely clear if Fryer even knew he was going to be a father or not, but when the war ended, he returned to Quebec. So Clapton’s grandparents – her mother and her stepdad Jack Clapp – raised him like a son and told him mother, Patricia was his sister. Consequently, he didn’t get very close to his real mother, and never met his father, who died in 1985. All this seemed to weigh heavily on Clapton for years.

In time, Eric would have his own children, although never with Pattie Boyd, despite their attempts. The first child, Ruth, was born in ’85, in an affair neither partner wanted to acknowledge. But he was close to his son Conor, whom he had with Italian model Lara Del Santo in 1987. Of course, tragically, Conor fell to his death out of a highrise window at age four. At least there’s some happiness in the family story; he’s since had three daughters with his new wife, Melia McEarny, the eldest being 20 year-old Julie.

So he tried to assemble his thoughts on not knowing his dad, and his son being taken away so young, when he wrote the song in 1991. It matches the pride and hope in seeing his children (“as I watch this seedling grow, feel my heart start to overflow”) with the disappointment in his own lack of a relationship with his dad, and the yearning for a father’s guidance to help him with the task (“that’s when I need them, my father’s eyes …my foundations were made of clay.”)

He performed the song originally on his 1992 Unplugged show. However, it didn’t make the cut and wasn’t on the album released of it, or at least not until 2013, when an expanded re-release included it. So, liking the song, he decided to include it on his 1998 album Pilgrim, which at the time was his first all-new material in nine years. He kept a couple of the players from Unplugged with him in the studio on it, including backing guitarist Andy Fairweather Low and bassist Nathan East. Simon Climie, who produced Pilgrim, also had a big part in the new version, playing keyboards.

In it, I tried to describe the parallels between looking in the eyes of my son, and the eyes of my father, that I never knew, through the chain of our blood,” he explained.

Mothers and kids seemed to like the song too since it pushed Pilgrim to platinum status in the States, gold in the UK and double-platinum in Canada. The single itself reached #33 in Britain but #16 in the U.S., #2 in Canada, it being his last top 20 hit (to date) in both those countries.

June 5 – The Yardbirds Took Flight

Few at the time probably sensed it, but this day in 1965 was a big one for Classic Rock…which of course, at the time wasn’t yet “classic.” Eric Clapton made himself known with the first top 40 American hit in his long career, by way of “For Your Love” from The Yardbirds.

The Yardbirds had formed a couple of years earlier in London as a blues outfit, originally playing mostly covers of tunes from the likes of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. Keith Relf was the main singer but the standout in the band was always typically the lead guitarist, and to begin with that was Top Topham. Various stories exist about the band’s name, but one of the most common stories is that Topham had come up with it in honor of Charlie Parker’s nickname of “yardbird”. (In the American South, “yardbird” is often a slang term for chicken.) Topham soon departed the band and a new up-and-coming guitarist replaced him – Eric Clapton.

The band began doing some new material and signed to Columbia Records. “For Your Love” was the title track of their first studio album, which surprisingly was not their first album. Quite contrary to the rock and roll norm, they began their recording career with a live album of old blues standards. The song “For Your Love”, as well as the follow–up, “Heart Full of Soul”, were both written by a then-19 year old Graham Gouldman. Gouldman would go on to be one of the founding members of 10CC and co-write one of the ’70s greatest singles, “I’m Not In Love.

For Your Love” was the single which quickly established The Yardbirds as a vital part of the “British Invasion” along with the likes of The Beatles and Rolling Stones. It would #3 in their homeland, #6 in the U.S. and it became a #1 hit in Canada. They’d go on to quickly chart four more U.S. top 10 hits.

Not all were delighted however. Clapton was disappointed in the commercial, rock sound to the song and the tangent the band was taking away from traditional blues and he had quit by the time the 7” single hit record store shelves. Replacing him, another quite good guitarist – Jeff Beck. And when Beck left, Jimmy Page replaced him. The result was that the one band, which lasted no more than 5 years in its original form (they called it quits in 1968, but various members have tried to resurrect the name at time since) they managed to give the starts to three out of Rolling Stone‘s picks of the five greatest guitarists of all-time! As Guitar World suggest just a tad hyperbolically, Clapton leaving The Yardbirds was “one of the best things that ever happened, period” as Clapton changed to a 1960 Les Paul guitar and altered his sound right after and went on to greatness while the rest of the band “were able to evolve freely” and bring in two other greats-in-the-making as well.

Despite their brief run and only five albums of new material, The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. The Hall consider them “short-lived but influential” and note their “innovations in feedback and distortion shaped diverse genres (such as) psychedelic rock, prog rock and punk.”

April 16 – The ‘RS’ In RSO

Remembering one of music’s big behind-the-scenes movers and shakers today. Robert Stigwood was born in southern Australia this day in 1934. Don’t know his name? Well, that’s why we refer to him as “behind-the-scenes”. But if you danced to Saturday Night Fever, saw Jesus Christ Superstar or even perhaps were bummed out by the breakup of the Beatles, Robert was a part of the story.

Stigwood went to college in Australia and got a job when young as a writer for an ad agency, but that wasn’t his thing. So he went to Asia and traveled, eventually winding up in London around the mid-’50s. He loved theatre, and started a small theatre agency there, representing actors. One was John Leyton, a stage actor with aspirations of becoming a singer. He helped his career along, and to help out, learned record production. Leyton had one decent-sized hit in Britain, and Stigwood was hooked on music. As Broadway mogul Tim Rice put it, “Robert never thought big. He thought massive!” Soon Stigwood was promoting tours in the UK for artists like Chuck Berry and The Who, and had started his own record company, Reaction. Their prime signee, Cream. Although they didn’t last long, his association with Eric Clapton did, and Stigwood helped “Slowhand’s” formation of Blind Faith and then his solo career in the ’70s. He was a socialite and he was said to have been the one who introduced Clapton to George Harrison at a party.

That wasn’t his only tie to the Beatles. In 1966 he became friends with Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager. He merged their two’s companies, but Epstein’s death cut short that relationship. Technically, he could have stayed on to manage the Beatles… but the Fab Four hated him. Paul McCartney apparently told Epstein not long before his death “if you do this (bring Stigwood in to help run their career) we can promise you one thing – we will from now on record ‘God Save the Queen’ for every single record we make…and we’ll sing out of tune!” Stigwood read the writing on the wall and gave the business back to the Beatles… for a nice profit. The end results of that are debatable. The void of management upon Epstein’s death led to in-house disputes between the four Beatles and eventually to John Lennon bringing in the seemingly corrupt Allen Klein to run the business end of the band.

Stigwood did make friends with some fellow, displaced-Aussies – the Bee Gees. He signed them and promoted them to stardom…then super-stardom. Along the way he was busy in theatre, producing London plays of shows like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, and running a publishing company that had British TV shows in its nest including Til Death Do Us Part...which quickly was adapted in the U.S. to All in The Family. All the while, the Bee Gees were taking off on the RSO (Robert Stigwood Organization) label with hits like “Massachusetts” and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” . Their career stumbled a bit in the early-’70s, until Robert’s other major musician client, Clapton, moved to Florida and made the hit 461 Ocean Blvd. record, which was a smash. Clapton suggested the Bee Gees follow his lead and move to the land of palms, white-sand beaches and white-sand cocaine. They did, and made Main Course, which kicked off the second part of their career, with their first smash dance tune, “Jive Talkin’”. Around the same time, Stigwood was moving to New York City and taking in that city’s liberal ways and party scene. It was a barely-concealed secret that he was gay, and the Big Apple was no doubt more conducive to a happy life for him then than ‘Swingin’ London”.

One fortuitous day in New York, Stigwood read an article entitled “tribal rites of a new Saturday night” in a local publication. An inspiration hit him, and he bought rights from the writer … and turned it into Saturday Night Fever. The movie was a hit, and the record soundtrack – on his label and mostly created by his act the Bee Gees – set records… for record sales back then. He got the Bee Gees kid brother Andy Gibb on his roster and, after turning Grease into a smash movie and record was as the Guardian would later say, “the entertainment industry’s most powerful tycoon.” Although his big idea of a film version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band didn’t help his bottom line nor the careers of the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton or others involved, it didn’t sink his company and he went on to stage several more successful theatre productions including Evita, although his role in music began to take a backseat.

Stigwood passed away in 2016 at age 81 in London; sadly despite being lauded as one of the biggest “moguls” in the business, little appeared to be known about his personal life or who he left behind.

March 13 – MTV’s Unlikely Superstar

While we readily think of bands like Duran Duran and Culture Club having their careers “made” by MTV, one of the biggest career-boosts the video network ever gave was for an unlikely artist. On this day in 1993, Eric Clapton‘s Unplugged hit #1 in both the U.S. and Canada. Later Nirvana would also top charts with their album gleaned from the MTV show, but that wasn’t nearly as surprising as Clapton. After all, Clapton’s career pre-dated MTV by close to two decades, and he was not one of the aging artists who really jumped in to the deep end of ’80s video revolution , unlike say George Harrison or Paul Simon.

The concept of MTV Unplugged was simple and effective – take artists usually known for rock performances and have them play their songs in a stripped-down fashion using largely acoustic instruments. In Clapton’s case, he performed mostly using an acoustic Martin guitar. “Slowhand” did his set in England in early 1992, performing 20 or so songs for the crowd, of which 14 made the CD. It included quite a mix of material, including old Blues standards like Robert Johnson’s “Malted Milk” and Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” as well as some of Clapton’s own songs, most notably “Layla.” and “Tears in Heaven.” The latter tear-jerker was written for his four year-old son who’d fallen to his death in 1991 and was released on the Rush soundtrack before Unplugged hit shelves.

It was quite a different sound for the rocker many consider the best rock guitarist of all-time, decidedly more laid back than some were accustomed to (although when you think about it, many of his familiar tunes like “Lay Down Sally” were anything but raucous rock numbers). Critics were of mixed opinions. Entertainment Weekly graded it A- calling it “A charmer…(with) just the right combination of intensity and giddy fun”.

Rolling Stone, in an article on his career at that point compared him to The Beatles and The Stones and thought this record “A delight because of its atypical focus” although noting it was a “mere shadow of his electric virtuosity.” Others like crusty New York critic Robert Christgau yearned for more rock and remembered wistfully his hard rock days “relegated to the mists.”

No matter what the critics thought, the public loved it. It ended up going diamond-status in both the States and Canada, 4X platinum in the UK and when all was said and done, selling well past 20 million copies , making it his biggest-seller ever and handily reviving his career which had been rather in the doldrums. The Grammys agreed as well. They gave it the Album of the Year trophy and picked the unplugged “Layla” as Best Rock Song, an award many might have thought it should have won 20 years earlier…when it was a rock song!

February 25 – The Bright Light That Was The Dark Horse

The “Quiet Beatle” was born 79 years ago today, so in honor of that, we look at some thoughts about George Harrison…and from George himself.

Ringo Starr, after George’s death in 2001: “George was a best friend of mine. I loved him very much and will miss him very greatly.”

Paul McCartney, at same time: “He was a lovely guy and a very brave man, and had a wonderful sense of humor. He (was) really just my baby brother.”

Peter Asher, friend of the Beatles and record producer : “(he was) an extraordinary composer and wildly skilled, inventive guitarist; a brilliant and remarkable man. He combined some of the virtues of an English country gentleman – civility, good humor and a certain traditionalism – with a profound fascination with other cultures.”

Tom Petty, bandmate of George’s in the Traveling Wilbury’s : “He just had a way of getting right to the business of finding the right thing to play. That was part of the Beatle magic.”

Jeff Lynne of E.L.O and the Traveling Wilburys, upon their first real meeting: “He invited me over and we got on great. One of the first things he asked was ‘do you want to go on holiday?’..So, we went on a holiday to Australia, and then we came back and…made Cloud 9.

Eric Clapton : “A lot of times during our relationship, I found it very difficult to communicate my feelings towards George – my love for him as a musician, as a friend and a brother…because we skated around stuff” (presumably like how Eric pursued George’s wife Pattie for years.)

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones: “George was an artist, but he was also a…craftsman. When you listen to his songs, you’re aware of how much went into it. George crafted his stuff very, very carefully.”

New York Times after his death: “Some of his best compositions, like ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Something’ stand alone in the Beatles canon for their introspective beauty” and he “created the concept of the all-star charity rock concert.”

The Guardian: “the most handsome but under-rated Beatle…seemed stranded on the far side of the stage, even if he was the best musician and the motor of the band.”

Olivia Harrison, his widow: “He often said ‘everything else can wait but the search for God cannot’ and ‘love one another.'”

And a few words from the man himself:

In 1980 – “I’m a gardener. I plant flowers and watch them grow. I don’t want to go out to the clubs partying.”

We’re now the results of our past actions. In the future, we’ll be the result of the actions we’re performing now.”

Quiet words of wisdom from the quiet Beatle.

January 22 – Talent Flooded Welsh Stage For Good Cause

Twenty years earlier, African famine had caused a number of international music stars to come together on stage, in 2005 a tsunami caused another tidal wave of talent to try to assist. On this day that year, the biggest charity fundraiser concert since Live Aid took place in the unlikely locale of Cardiff, Wales. It was the first and biggest of several Tsunami Relief concerts staged in different countries to raise funds for victims of the terrible tsunami that had killed some 220 000 people and swept away entire towns about four weeks earlier. That tsunami, caused by the third-strongest earthquake ever measured offshore Indonesia, had ravaged that land and done considerable damage to other Indian Ocean-bordering locations like Thailand and India.

People worldwide were quick to reach for their wallets to help out, and the concept of a fund-raising concert came together quickly… in fact, it was less than four weeks between when the water caused the Indian Ocean destruction and when a Welsh classical singer took the stage and sang “Amazing Grace” in front of over 66 000 fans to open the show. It took place in the Millennium Stadium (now known as the Principality Stadium), home to the Welsh national rugby team. Apparently that’s quite popular there as the stadium can hold up to 74 000 despite serving a city with a population of only about 340 000!

The show began around 2 PM local time and when all was said and done, some 21 acts took the stage, with video messages from members of the Royal Family, British PM Tony Blair, and Bono added in. Musical acts spanned the genres and generations and included some local rock bands and rappers but to most of us, the most noteworthy were Keane, then up-and-coming Snow Patrol, Jools Holland, locals the Manic Street Preachers (who ironically enough had done a song called “Tsunami” in the ’90s) and the headliner, Eric Clapton. Clapton finished the show with help from Holland, and did a six-song set of old blues numbers including Robert Johnson’s “Little Queen of Spades”, Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive” and the finale of “Shake Rattle and Roll.” Although the crowd was appreciative of the legendary guitarist, the biggest cheers apparently went to the home town Manic Street Preachers, who did five songs culminating in their then new single, “A Design for Life” which hit #2 in the UK.

The Welsh benefit was broadcast live on BBC radio and streamed on their website with highlights shown on TV that night. It raised about 1.25 million pounds (about $3 million in today’s terms) for the relief effort.

A month later, on Feb. 18, a similar show was held in Anaheim, California, with the organizers, Linkin Park, as well as No Doubt, Ozzy Osbourne and the Black-eyed Peas. Tony Kanal of No Doubt said of it, “a disaster of this magnitude, that effects so many people, forces yourself to ask ‘what can I do to help?’ (we decided to) do what we do best to make the most impact in both dollars and awareness.” No Doubt he was right about that.

June 20 – Fryer’s Boy’s Song For The Day

Dad’s seem to get the slightly shorter end of the stick when it comes to parental recognition. Perhaps basic biology dictates that. Anyway, it seems like Father’s Day isn’t quite as big a deal to Hallmark or retailers as Mother’s Day. There even is a bit of a disparity when it comes to music – a perfunctory glance at pop music titles would suggest “mothers” tend to be more popular to write about than “fathers.” Nevertheless, there are still a host of quality songs about dear old dad to mark the day. And about not-so-dear old dad, for that matter. There are the ones which pull at your heartstrings from kids who admire or miss their dads – “Cats in the Cradle,” “The Living Years” – and then there are the ones remembering dads who weren’t all that. The dad in “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” wasn’t a fantastically-talented British rock star the kid admired; “Father of Mine” by Everclear not likely to be getting a card and a tie on the special day. Today we look at another sad one from a guy who had a lot of rough parental experiences, Eric Clapton. His career rebound continued going strong in 1998 with “My Father’s Eyes.”

My Father’s Eyes” was the lead single off Pilgrim, his first album of all new material in nine years. It wasn’t actually entirely new to his fans, rather it was the first time they had a chance to listen to it as Eric imagined it fully, and buy it. He’d actually played the song, or a version of it, on his Unplugged special, but hadn’t included it on the album (a 2013 re-release of it does include it.) And he’d sometimes played it in concert. However, he re-arranged it a little for the new album, using producer Simon Climie (one of several people on keyboards on it) and session musicians including drummer Steve Gadd, who’d worked with greats like Paul Simon and Steely Dan before. Clapton remembers asking Gadd if he wanted to help him make “the saddest record of all-time” with Pilgrim.

The song references seeing through his father’s eyes, and looking into his own son’s eyes. As he put it, “in it I try to describe a parallel between looking in the eyes of my son and the eyes of a father I never met, through the chain of our blood.” Alas, as he suggests, the three generations never came close to meeting. His dad, as it turns out was a Canadian named Edward Fryer. He was a soldier stationed in England who had gone back home after WWII ended, leaving a pregnant 16 year old, Clapton’s mom, behind. “Slowhand” was raised by his grandparents, whom he thought were his own parents until he was an adult. He never met his dad, and only learned his identity years later, after he was famous. On the other side of parenthood, a sadder story still, as his son Conor died in a falling accident at age four (the idea behind “Tears in Heaven.”)

Despite the sad history and recollections like “my foundations were made of clay,” the song sounded fairly hopeful and spoke to the masses. It hit #16 in the U.S., but #10 in Australia and #2 in Canada. It won him his 13th Grammy Award, for Best Male Pop Performance.

Here’s hoping your experiences with your dad have been and will continue to be happier than Clapton’s and if you have a chance, look into your father’s eyes this day.

May 19 – Better Than Your Average Wedding Musicians

Most people who get married might have a second-rate local band wearing powder blue tuxes playing their reception. Or a DJ intent upon playing the “Macarena” every hour. But Eric Clapton isn’t most people, so he and guests at his wedding got to see the next best thing to a Beatles concert on the back lawn. That occurred on this day in 1979 when Clapton married his long time obsession, Pattie Boyd.

Surprisingly, Level 42 didn’t write “Something About You” about Boyd…but there must have been something about her! Boyd was the object of the dreams and fantasies of not one but two of rock’s greatest legends – Clapton and George Harrison. She met George while she was a teenage extra on the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. He wrote “I Need You” for her, then his opus with the Beatles, “Something.” The pair married in 1966, and despite a few difficulties and brief splits, stayed together for about seven years. Meanwhile, Eric started hanging out with the Beatles, actually being a very rare guest musician on one of their records – the George-penned “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Much like George had been, Eric was smitten with the blonde model/writer. He quickly wrote perhaps his best song for her – “Layla” which he recorded with Derek & the Dominos.

Well what’s a girl to do? “With the realization that I had inspired such passion and creativity, the song (“Layla”) got the better of me. I could resist no longer.” She and Clapton began having an affair and soon she split up with George. Happy Eric would go on to write “Wonderful Tonight” for her and after about five years, marry her.

So this must’ve … umm… “irked” Harrison, right? One might think. Instead, the pair remained buddies. Boyd recalls “the first Christmas after I’d left (Harrison), Eric and I were just sitting down to lunch and George bursts in, uninvited. He had some wine and Christmas pudding…I couldn’t believe how friendly he and Eric were towards each other!”

Flash forward to ’79 and the pair’s wedding at Eric’s English country home. A celebrity who’s who were in attendance including Mick Jagger, members of Cream, Elton John, Denny Laine from Wings and Paul, Ringo and yes, George from the Beatles. John Lennon was in the States and didn’t bother attending. Perhaps he was just a “jealous guy”. Anyhow, they put up a stage on Eric’s lawn, and among the events was the three Beatles in attendance doing what Ultimate Classic Rock term a “boozy rendition” of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Get Back” and something called “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” Denny Laine remembers it as “absolute rubbish” but still… it was the closest thing to the Beatles being together in any form since the Apple rooftop concert a decade earlier. Sadly the three of them would reunite again two years later briefly to work on George’s tribute to Lennon, “All Those Years Ago.”

So it was a fairytale wedding end to a fairytale story, albeit a strange one? Well, not quite. Unfortunately, Clapton was drinking far too much and doing drugs through much of the years that lay ahead and he and Pattie didn’t do that well together. They’d end up divorced by 1988; both eventually remarried. She apparently has nothing to do with him now, but stayed close friends with George until his death. She later on said “Eric was morally wrong to entice me to leave George. I was married to George. But also, I was wrong to allow myself to be flattered (by Clapton) to that extent.”

So there you have it. A love triangle, a British soap opera of sorts – but one with a killer soundtrack!

May 11 – Jamaica Stopped Jammin’ 40 Years Ago

The world lost a good one and a musical trailblazer 40 years back. Remembering one of Jamaica’s most beloved native sons, Bob Marley. The most famous and acclaimed reggae musician in the world died on this day in 1981 in Miami at the young age of 36 from wide-ranging cancers. If Elvis was the “King of Rock and Roll” and Aretha the “Queen of Soul”, there could be little doubt Bob was the “King of Reggae.”

Marley began his career around 1963 with The Wailers, around the time he switched from the Catholicism of his youth to rasta, a Christian sect which believed in not cutting one’s hair and smoking pot as a sacrament. As Rolling Stone would note, Marley “almost single-handedly brought reggae to the world,” first by writing “I Shot the Sheriff” which was made a hit by Eric Clapton, and later with his own recordings (particularly those from the mid-’70s when he’d moved to London) such as “Jammin’”, “Could You Be Loved?” and, “No Woman No Cry” which was the first of 13 top 20 hits for him in the UK. Of those, six came posthumously for him, including “Buffalo Soldier” which at #4 was his highest-charter. Although never played by Casey Kasem – he had no American top 40 singles – his popularity is obviously huge and his Legend greatest hits album has gone 15X platinum in the U.S.

The Jamaican Prime Minister delivered Marley’s eulogy, saying “his voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world…he was an experience which left an indelible imprint.” Soon after he awarded Marley the Jamaican Order of Merit, the start of the head Wailers growing posthumous importance. In 1994 he was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of fame ; in 2004 he was in the first group of musicians honored at the UK Music Hall of Fame and the same year Rolling Stone labeled him the 11th greatest artist of all-time. They lauded him by noting “Marley came from the poverty and injustice…that manifested itself in his rebel sound,” and compared him to John Lennon with their ideas “that throudh music, empowerment and words you can really come up with world peace.” These days, his son Ziggy carries on the music and message of his dad.