With the sad news of David Crosby’s passing on Jan. 18, 2023, I was drawn to discover more about his intriguing life. I remembered when I first met David, aka Croz. I recalled the captivating love story with his wife, Jan Dance, a dear friend from our Miami days. I flashed back on why I chose to leave my life in Germany, my business, and my friends to move to California. David was indeed the impetus for that drastic decision.
Was it naïve? Yes. Rash? Definitely. Life-changing? Absolutely.
It was at the close of 1978 when Jan invited me to stay with her during my first visit to San Francisco. Five days in Mill Valley with Jan and Croz ended with an unexpected opportunity.
Almost everyone has a Croz story. I enjoyed reading a plethora of impressive ones. His interviews and astute opinions are insightful, entertaining and enlightening. Check the links at the end of this story for his comprehensive books and in-depth documentary.
Even so, my story ties directly to the Crosbys, to a radical life change and the resulting outcome.
For context, let me say I’ve been asked a bazillion times how I got into Reggae; the the music and industry I pioneered and participated in for more than 40 years. The odyssey began in early-70s Coconut Grove, the music-hippie-artsy area of Miami. Jan Dance and her sister “Peppermint Pati” Dance were good fun Grove pals. Side note for astrology buffs: Jan is a Virgo (like me), born same year. If my memory serves me correctly, we may share the same chart … except for our rising sign, maybe. OK, moving on…
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’ve had the pleasure of spending time with my former colleagues at D.T.A.M., sharing what we saw, said, and did as we remember what transpired that fateful day in Miami, Florida. Even though 42 years have passed, time does not change the truth or what we know took place in our office “that day.” The double-dealing events we witnessed and inadvertently participated in remain with us. However, the lasting effect it has on the Marley family and legacy remains to be seen. This is one day. There is a longer tale, one that’s never been told in any Marley book, still waiting to be revealed. ~MPQ
May 11, 1981, is another beautiful Miami Monday morning. The excitement and anxiety of starting my new position made for some tense nerves, not uncommon when facing the unknown. As a huge Reggae and Bob Marley fan, I landed this job I wanted so badly. I feel my excitement grow as I drive to the Datran Center in southwest Miami. Don Taylor Artist Management (D.T.A.M.) is a well-established and well-connected management company, which happens to manage my favorite Reggae artists — Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Gregory Isaacs. I’ve loved these three singers/writers/performers since the mid-70’s, when I lived in Nürnberg, Germany. Eager to begin my new chapter as Don Taylor’s assistant manager, I arrive shortly before my 10 a.m. start time. Because I am aware that these are the final days for Reggae king Bob Marley on this earthly plane, I have feelings of sadness and dread as well. Tense nerves, indeed.
Before I share the events of this fateful first day, let me start at the job’s beginning. In early May 1981, there is a listing in the Miami Herald (I’m paraphrasing here): “Music Manager Seeks Assistant. Fun, Adventure, Travel.” Perfect! I think, and immediately call and speak to Betsy Berg, the young lady I would soon be replacing. She is genuinely surprised that I know who these Reggae greats are and promptly invites me in for an interview that day. When I passed the first round with Betsy, she highly recommended me to Don Taylor.
During that week leading up to my first day, I speak with Taylor a few times on the phone. Our first interview is conducted from his fancy hotel room in LA, where he travels often on business (and pleasure.) “Why do you want this job?” is his first question. “Because I love Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff,” I answer. “I love the message, the music, the calling for the underdog to ‘get up, stand up.’” Seriously … it is the truth. It is authentic. It is me … and it worked.
Later in the week Taylor, the street-smart, self-made millionaire who grew up in a waterfront East Kingston ghetto, plays hardball over salary negotiations with Quattro, the experienced Italian businesswoman from Steel Town, Ohio. After finally saying, “Ahhh…thanks, but no thanks,” we (thankfully!) come to an agreement. He then fills me in on Bob Marley’s current health situation, and lets me know Jimmy Cliff will be flying into Miami that following week. He mentions returning to his Miami base the next morning and asks that I come in on Friday for a face-to-face meeting.
As I enter the not-so-spacious Kendall office, I’m met by Herman Plasencia — Don’s loyal, affable, right-hand-guy. He greets me with a welcoming handshake and relief-like smile. I’m led to Taylor’s office, where I spot the smiling smooth-talker casually lounging on a lush leather couch in a silk shirt and leather sandals. Quite the first impression. The cool, music business pro did not hesitate to question how and why “a nice Italian girl from Ohio” would want to be in “this crazy business”… punctuating with a wry smile, “… and working with Jamaicans.” Not missing a beat, I simply explain that because I am Italian, crazy is easy. I mention growing up in a large family of musicians, singers and performers, so no problem there. “The main reason I want to be here is my passion for this music … period.”
Following with my business background, i.e., I’m good with numbers, know my way around an office, detailed and organized, I end with the fact that I really really want this job. After a brief pause, he looks me straight in the eye and says: “They’re not going to make it easy for you.” Noticing my puzzled expression, he adds point-blank, “You’re white, American and female.” Not one to yield that easily, I respond with a smile and a shrug: “Sounds like a challenge.”
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.
From “Reggae Report Runnings” 1984 – Meet: M. Peggy Quattro
“When one door is closed, don’t you know many more is open.”
May 11, 1981, holds a special meaning for me in two ways. Firstly, it was the day that Bob “Nesta’ Marley left this physical plane to go on to higher heights, and secondly, it was the day that first marked my entrance into the Reggae music business, working with Don Taylor, Bob’s long-time friend, associate, and manager.
The immediate hustle and bustle and activity at the office surrounding such an international event convinced me that this was no “joke business.” Bob had a lot of work left to do, and out there would be certain people “picking up” where he physically left off. I am one of those persons.
Bob was the key to the spiritual door… and he opened it so now everyone can go through. I find I-dren everywhere I go that know, as Jah children, this is serious (yet happy) work we carry on in the name of our father – Jah! Like so many others, I could relate to the philosophies and wisdom Bob left for us in his songs. These same truths hold true today for those of US familiar with his life and times, as it will hold true for future generations who will know him through our records, tapes, films, and books.
Bob will never age past being vibrant, energetic, and 36 – beautifully endowed with dreadlocks from his soul, love from his heart, and truth from his lips.
In 1982, my first labor of love was the Caribbean Sunburst Festival, where, as Director-in-Chief, I made my own solemn tribute to Bob. This 4-day history-making event was soon followed by our presentations of Marcia Griffiths at the Gusman (still keeping it in the family) in ’82, and then various promotional endeavors that eventually led to the creation of Reggae Report.
So ‘wake up and live” y’all…the Reggae Report is here… as a voice, as a rhythm… we shall, ‘till the last syllable of recorded time, honor and hold in reverence our beloved leader, brother, and friend.
“You think it’s the end, but it’s just the beginning…”
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
(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
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 →
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.
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 →