The Night Bob Marley Was Shot
Excerpt from new oral history ‘So Much Things to Say’ tells the story of harrowing 1976 ambush at Tuff Gong
By Roger Steffens
(What follows is an excerpt from a Rolling Stone, July 7, 2017, article, edited for size)
Roger Steffens: Friday, December 3, dawned hot and humid. Members of the Wailers Band gathered at Tuff Gong late that afternoon to rehearse for the upcoming concert.
Judy Mowatt: I had a vision a few days before the shooting. Marcia left; she didn’t feel too good about that concert. Like she had a premonition that something could happen, or she heard something and she left the island. Rita and myself had been going to rehearsals. So one night I went to my bed and I dreamt that this rooster, it was a rooster with three chickens, and the rooster got shot, and the shot ricocheted and damaged two of the chickens. I even saw like one of the chicken’s tripe inside, the intestines come out. And I didn’t like it, and I told it to Rita and Rita knew about it. But we were looking out for something. Because usually, how the Africa woman understands, a lot of times we depend on our dreams. We know that when you dream, if it’s not so, it’s close to what it is. So we were expecting something to happen. And then again, I went to my bed. I never mentioned this – but I went to my bed again and I saw in the newspaper where Bob sang that song “Smile Jamaica” and that was the song that created a controversy because of certain lyrics that he had in it that was like a then political slogan: Regardless, you control your state of being, so smile, because the power’s ours. The victory’s ours.
Roger Steffens: The forebodings came true in the midst of rehearsals around 8:30 in the evening. Two white Datsun compacts drove through the gates of Tuff Gong, from which the longtime guards had mysteriously disappeared. The exact number of gunmen who came leaping out, guns blazing, is a subject of controversy. There could have been as many as seven or eight, armed with machine guns and pistols, some reportedly containing homemade bullets. They went room to room, often firing wildly. Continue reading