Old Pirates, Yes They Rob I…
(Reggae Report V5#3 1987 – Part 1 of 3 Estate Stories)
by M. Peggy Quattro
Since the departure of maestro Bob Marley in May 1981, Reggae industry personnel continue to grope for stability in a rocky music business world.
The sordid details begin as far back as that day, May 11th, when Bob Marley’s earthly career climaxed at Miami’s Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. It was approximately 11am when manager Don Taylor received a call from Rita Marley instructing him to report to Cedars Hospital immediately. It was there he met Bob’s mother, Cedella Booker, who had devotedly been with her son to the very end.
Within hours the dejected Taylor’s Kendall office had become a hub of activity. Some of the first to arrive there are central characters in the “great estate debate” – Rita Marley, wife of the deceased; Philadelphia attorney David Steinberg; New York accountant Marvin Zolt; along with publisher Brenda Andrews; and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.
”Minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit…”
Don Taylor communicated in a recent interview that everything [Bob Marley Music, Tuff Gong, and Media Aides] was left in trust to him. Taylor, an officer and director of Bob’s companies, went on to say that it was that day, May 11th, when Rita was appointed president, assuming Bob’s position in order to take care of the 11 children. He states, “She was NOT appointed into Bob Marley Music.” Taylor continued, “I thought Rita was the right person… she fooled me.”
Only recently has an official report been issued as to the standing of the Marley estate. The first in four years as delivered by Louis Byles of the Mutual Security Bank in Kingston. The sad state of affairs is surely to worsen until all those directly in relation to Bob Marley receive their fair share of what Bob worked so hard for. The mothers of Bob’s children are on a quest to ensure that justice is done.
”But my hand was made strong… by the hand of the Almighty…”
Mrs. Booker is presently fighting to keep the house her son Bob bought for her in 1976. Don Taylor, intimately involved with the Marley family for years, knows that Bob bought the house for her and his family. He in fact found that house for mother and son Marley. It is true that he advised Ms. B to put the house in Bob’s name for tax purposes, but he also states that he will swear to an affidavit that the house they’re threatening to take away is her house.” When asked what solution he sees regarding the status of Mrs. Booker’s home, Taylor replies, “All the children have equal value…each person/mother has the right to vote on it.”
Adamant of protecting Bob’s mother and children’s rights, Don Taylor fervidly questions “Why?…why is Byles pressuring to put Mrs. Booker out on the street and not pressing criminal charges against Rita for forgery?”
Taylor goes on to further say that misdeeds are ascribed to “the entire administrative lot…from Byles all the way down.” Though he claims “Byles didn’t actually take money (from Rita), he allowed her to do favors for him.”
In summation, Taylor, the key witness in this legal tussle, asserts “I never asked Rita for anything. (Right now) I’m on top with four acts in the R&B charts. My mind is clear.”
”We forward in this generation…”
When asked his feelings regarding the pending legal action, Ziggy Marley, number one son to Bob and Rita Marley, attributes the problem to, simply put, GREED. “Let them take it all” he gesticulates standing outside Tuff Gong and Ziggy’s Pressing Plant, ”let them fight like children over candy… and in two years we’ll build it back up bigger and better, and them cyann’t take it.”
The scope of this litigation is vast and voluminous and not near to finalization. Reports will continue and eventually the truth will be revealed
”Won’t you help me sing the songs of freedom…‘Cause all I ever had was redemption songs…”
Article as it appears in Reggae Report V5#3 1987