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May 11, 1981: My Life-Changing 1st Day Working for Bob Marley’s Manager

By M. Peggy Quattro

Updated May 11, 2022

Greetings friends, fans, fam, and foes! Since I began this note some years ago, information continues to “come to light” about May 11, 1981, and the days, weeks, months, and years that followed. I had the pleasure to spend time with my former colleagues at D.T.A.M., to share what we saw and said, and to remember what transpired that fateful day in Kendall (Miami), FL. Even though 41 years have passed, time does not change what we know happened in our office, and the events we participated in, on May 11, 1981, a day that would change all of us in the room, and impact the Marley family and legacy. My longer tale, with input from the people who were there with me, is in the works. Watch this space… MPQ


May 11, 1981 was another beautiful Miami Monday morning. The excitement and anxiousness of starting my new job made for some tense nerves, not uncommon with the unknown. As a huge Reggae fan, I wanted this job badly. The excitement grew as I drove to the Datran Center in Kendall to begin a new chapter as Don Taylor’s assistant manager. I arrived shortly before my 10 a.m. start time. Don Taylor Artist Management (D.T.A.M.) managed my favorites—Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Gregory Isaacs—and this was all a bit much for me to believe. I’ve loved these three singers/writers/performers since my time living in Nürnberg, Germany, in the mid-1970s. I also felt sadness and dread as well because I knew these were the final days for Bob Marley on this earthly plane. Tense nerves, indeed.

My initial job interview was with Betsy Berg, the young lady I would be replacing. I passed the first round of interviews with her and she highly recommended me to Don Taylor. That week, leading up to my first day, had me meeting a few times with Taylor, on the phone. “Why do you want this job?” was the first question. “Because I love Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff… I love the message, the music, the call for the underdog to “get up, stand up.” Seriously. It was the truth. It was authentic. It was me… and it worked.

The interview started from his fancy hotel room in LA, where he traveled often on business (and pleasure.) The street-smart Taylor, the self-made millionaire who grew up in a waterfront East Kingston ghetto, played hardball over salary negotiations with Quattro, the experienced Italian businesswoman from Steel Town, Ohio. Following the moment where I finally said, “Ahhh…no thanks,” we (thankfully!) came to an agreement. He filled me in on Bob Marley’s current health situation, and let me know Jimmy Cliff was flying in that following week. He mentioned returning to Miami the next morning and asked that I come in for a meeting.

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robbie shakespeare

Last Note – Legendary Bass Player Robbie Shakespeare dies at age 68

By Howard Campbell, Observer Senior Writer

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021

LEGENDARY Jamaican bass player Robbie Shakespeare was yesterday described as “one of a kind” by keyboardist Robbie Lyn, one of the many artistes and musicians who rode Sly and Robbie’s Taxi label and had a front-row seat to Shakespeare’s genius.

robbie shakespeare
Robert “Robbie” Shakespeare of Sly & Robbie (Photo by David Yellen/Corbis via Getty Images)

Shakespeare died at age 68 yesterday at his home in Florida, United States.

According to Lyn, Shakespeare’s story transcended music. “He came from a challenged background and made a name for himself. Robbie worked himself into a position as someone to respect,” Lyn told the Jamaica Observer.

No official cause of death was given at press time, but Shakespeare had been ill for an extended period.

He and Lyn had a musical connection that went back to the late 1970s when they were members of Peter Tosh’s Word, Sound and Power band. Along with drummer Sly Dunbar, they played on numerous hit songs, including Walk and Don’t Look Back by Tosh and Mick Jagger, Revolution (Dennis Brown), Love and Devotion (Jimmy Riley), and Baltimore (The Tamlins). Continue reading

An Unforgettable Day

By M. Peggy Quattro, Contributor  ◊  Jamaica Observer, May 11, 2021

BOB Marley’s dead. Wow. It’s May 11, 1981. Around 11:45 a.m. on my first day of my dream job, the phone rings. Freshly hired as Don Taylor’s assistant, I merrily answered, “Good morning, Don Taylor Artiste Management.” Rita Marley uttered one word…“Don.” With slight trepidation, I handed the phone to my new boss standing next to me. By the look of dread on Don’s face, it was obvious that our world was about to change.

Don Taylor’s Miami-based company, D.T.A.M., represented Reggae’s ‘Big Three’ – Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Gregory Isaacs. Prior to my first day, I had dreams of one day meeting Bob Marley. Even though I knew he was very sick and en route to his home in Jamaica, I had hope. Going in as a huge Marley fan, I never dreamed that this day, this one event, would inexplicably link us for life.

“Why today, Bob?”, I asked myself again and again. There had to be some reason I was chosen to be in this office, on this morning. Within hours, I was witness to – nay, a participant in – Reggae music history. A day that began with excitement, anticipation, and promise ended with sadness, bewilderment, and deception.

The King had gone home to Zion… Long live the King.    

Reggae Artists Remember Bob Marley from 1984

In 1984, we asked performers & personalities this same question:

What Was the One Thing That Impressed You the Most About Bob Marley?

Here’s what they said, as seen in V2#5 1984:

“…Bob’s very great…his music is different from all the rest of Reggae musicians…and well put together.” ~Ansell Collins

“…it’s just him…just the man, really… you know, the man.”  ~Beres Hammond

“…a hard-workin’ man, him work for what him have in life, really…and he’s a good singer and good writer, and I respect everything him done…him pave the way for every other artist in Jamaica.”  ~Gregory Isaacs

“…his talent… for me, it was his talent.” ~Jimmy Cliff

..Bob was a great man…he appreciated people and they related to him…he was a champion of the people…a selfless person…he cared on an international scale for the poor, black and suffering…this was the essence of Bob.”  ~Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976

“… a cool runnings man… just cool…that was one of the things I admired.”  ~Lloyd Parkes, bandleader

“…it’s his range…on one hand it was religion, on the other hand, he was a lover… you know, one has a heavy message, the other you could dance to…” ~Perry Henzell, writer/director The Harder They Come

“…he showed people how to move from poverty to riches… (as in) how to move from Babylon to the Promised Land…”   ~Tony King, Jamaica Tourist Board, Kingston

“…it’s how he was a leader…he had a platform and he stood strong…(and) he allowed me to be creative.”  ~Donald Kinsey, guitarist

“…his song “Smile Jamaica” for personal inspiration…(because) I smile a lot!”  ~Andrew Henry, Kingston Publishers

 

Inside the Vaults of Marley – 1990

(As published in Reggae Report V08#04 1990 – this article has not been updated since its original publication. Any updated information is welcome.) 

By Roger Steffens

Reggae historian & Marley archivist Roger Steffens

Bob Marley, Reggae’s prolific king, has been gone for nine years now and for the first time in that period, there exists a growing hope that the protracted legal battles for control of his life’s work are finally drawing to a close. At stake are millions of dollars in royalties, unreleased material, and properties. Nineteen lawyers are currently representing all the different claimants to the estate, including Bob’s children, the estates of the late Peter Tosh and drummer Carlton Barrett, the Wailers band, Bob’s mother Cedella Booker, Bunny Wailer, and various publishers and accountants.

As of the end of April, it appears as if an out-of-court scheme developed by Island Records president Chris Blackwell has met with qualified approval by most of the involved parties, and the way seems much clearer than ever for the eventual release of a treasure trove of unreleased and uncollected Marley and Wailers material going back to the dawn of his career in the early Sixties.

Chronologically, this is my breakdown of what remains to be heard, based on nearly twenty years of following every lead I could. And there is still a great deal of material, some of it stolen from Mrs. Booker’s home after Bob’s death that could yield even more surprises. Continue reading

Bob Marley Interview – After the Boston Show 1980

By Lee O’Neill    *Updated 2020
V11#3 1993

As Bob Marley and the Wailers took their positions on stage for a 1980 Boston concert [at Hynes Auditorium,] they resembled a tribe of Biblical prophets carrying electric guitars. Red, gold, and green spotlights shined on the different members of the band, from the patriarchal percussionist Seeco Patterson to guitarist Al Anderson dressed in military fatigues.

The leader of the tribe walked to the center microphone in complete darkness and slowly began the song “Natural Mystic.” A spotlight finally landed on Bob Marley, whose long dreadlocks suggested a lion’s mane, and the mood for the show was fixed. Whether they knew it or not and whether they liked it or not, the Boston audience was being drawn into a spiritual experience.

Bob Marley with the Commodores, Madison Square Garden, 1980

I had the opportunity to interview Marley several hours after that September 1980 concert. It was to be one of his last. The Wailers [then] traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, for a show at Brown University and went from there to New York. *Following two extraordinary shows at Madison Square Gardens, where the Wailers finally performed before a predominantly African-American audience while outshining the Commodores, Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park. The extent of his illness became apparent. The Wailers made their final appearance in Pittsburgh a few days later. Continue reading

Garnet Silk – An Interview at his Kingston Home 1994 

This interview was held on January 13, 1994, at Garnet’s Kingston home. The visit was as warm and memorable as the 27-year-old singer himself. Tragically, by year’s end, Garnet perished in a fire alongside his mother at his childhood home. I cherish my time spent with this humble, delightful, kind human being who possessed childlike joy and a smile that touched everyone he met. Rest in power, dear soul…your music, message and memory live on.   ~M. Peggy Quattro

Garnet Silk – A Son of Ethiopia

By M. Peggy Quattro      V12#2 1994
Words in double brackets [[ ]] signify updated 2020 material ~MPQ

Garnet Silk at Home, Kingston 1994The highly anticipated return of Garnet Silk to the performing stage was purposefully planned to coincide with the birthday celebration of his good friend, DJ Tony Rebel. On January 15, 1994, Rebel Salute was staged in the cool and lovely city of Mandeville, situated in their home parish of Manchester, Jamaica.

In July 1993, following his doctor’s orders, the popular singer/songwriter took a needed hiatus from his rigorous performing and recording schedule. The reason given: exhaustion. [more later in this interview]

The Early Days

Garnet Silk exploded on the Jamaican music scene in 1991 and soon became the most in-demand performer on the island. A steady stream of shows and performances, tours and recordings throughout ‘92 and most of ‘93 took its toll on the performer. To begin the new year, and a new era in his dazzling career, Garnet Silk appears rested and ready to resume his appointed rule as musical message giver.

Garnet Silk
Garnet with photo of HIM Haile Selassie, his inspiration for life

Every song released by Silk in the last two years has attracted rave reviews and considerable airplay in Jamaica and abroad. His unique vocal styling and charismatic presentations have him marked by music industry personnel and fans alike as the “next Bob Marley.”

At Garnet’s Kingston Home

I recently had the pleasure of visiting and interviewing the serious yet mild-mannered Silk during rehearsals and preparation for his triumphant comeback performance at Rebel Salute. This interview is part of the comeback. Continue reading