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.
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
Take a Reggae Journey with Me to Enjoy 40 Years of People, Events, Work, Travel, & Fun!
Since 1981 – from A to Z!
With so much to share, I’m going to spread my A to Z out over a few posts. Enjoy A to J and come back, right here, for more! Trust mi, there’s ’nuff ’nuff history & fun times for you to enjoy this whole year! One Love, M Peggy Quattro
*RR = Reggae Report Magazine
Aswad – The popular UK Lovers Rock trio was inspired by Marley in the ‘70s & later befriended BMW in ’76. Always sweet & gentlemanly, Tony Gad, Drummie Zeb & Brinsley Forde were RR favorites & were featured on three covers, in multiple issues, & headlined a packed Cameo Theater ’91 concert that I promoted & co-produced in Miami Beach. They were my May featured artist in RR’s popular 1995 Calendar.
The Aswad Poster I printed for Cameo show – V9#5 1991 Cover – Aswad checking RR & my ’95 Calendar – Aswad with Princess Di – Click to View!
Bob Marley – Our connection began in 1974 Nürnberg. This intro led to a job in his manager’s Miami office. My first day was May 11, 1981. RR featured annual Bob tribute issues with stories, pics, interviews, & more. I became friends with his mother, children, families; produced two BM Festival magazines; & sponsored several BM festivals. In 1995, I received a BM World Peace Award in Antigua. In 2008, I wrote & coordinated the Bob Marley Tribute that remains atop Mystic Mountain/Bobsled Jamaica in Ocho Rios today. Long live the king!
Me getting BM World Peace Award, Antigua ’95 – RR Article 1990 – BM Vinyl w Logo – Bob Marley Tribute Issues 1983-1998 – Bob Pull Out Poster V6#4 1988 – MPQ w the Marley Tribute I wrote for Mystic Mountain ’08 – Click to view!
Cedella Marley Booker – Getting to know, interview, travel & spend time with Bob’s mother, affectionately known as Ms B, was a definite highlight. Her fierce courage, wisdom, humor, talent, & home-cooking made for unforgettable & inspiring times. A fan favorite, Ms B was featured in RR many times. We shared successes & supported each other through complex times. It was an honor to speak in eulogy at Mother Booker’s fabulous life celebration in 2008. I miss her energy but feel her spirit.
Cindy B, Ms B & Me, Hard Rock, Miami – Me & Ms B, somewhere in the ’90s – Ms B gets key to Houston, ’90s pic by me – Philip Michael Thomas, Ms B, & me at our Time Will Tell movie premiere, Miami – Ms B, Woody Harrelson & Wesley Snipes, BM Fest, Miami, pic by me – Ms B & Ernie Smith perform at Small Axe Awards, Miami Beach ’86 – Ms B, Me, my dawta Arielle, & I Jabulani Tafari at Nine Mile – Click to view!
Don Taylor – I’m so grateful for Don sighting my tenacity & passion, & for hiring me as his assistant. He was managing Bob, Jimmy, & Gregory then & I was overjoyed. On my first day, May 11, 1981, Bob died. The Reggae world changed forever. I changed. Don T & I remained friends after I left. I always rated him a top-notch manager. We saw each other often, in Miami, JA, & at Midem in Cannes ’97 where JA’s showcase stole the show! When I interviewed him about his ’90s tell-all book, we revisited my ‘first day’ & the intense times that followed. I was sad to hear of his passing at only 56 & often think about what he’d be doing if he were with us today.
Don & Me, MoBay ’90s – Don & Bob – Don & Me, Cannes ’97 – Don, Bob, George Harrison ’76 – Don & Me, Kgn – Don, Me, Danny Sims, Kgn ’80s – Click to view!
E-Book – Reggae Trilogy: 200+ 80s & 90s Artist Headshots-Vol. 1 is my fun tribute to the music makers & frontline pioneers who shaped these remarkable decades. With 1000+ Headshots in the RR Archive, I found a way to utilize this treasure trove & share the fashion, culture, & lifestyle of Reggae’s Global era in an educational & entertaining e-book. There are 13 Chapters, my intro & a Foreword by Nadine Sutherland. Have a look – you may be in it! Or maybe your parents…or grandparents!
Reggae Trilogy: 200+ 80s & 90s Artist Headshots – Legends sample – Artist Index – Artis tNames – Singers Chapter Intro – 5 stars! Great reviews! Get yours now! – Click to View!
Festivals – Directing Caribbean Sunburst at Miami’s Marine Stadium was a mixed blessing – awesome 4 days but promoters ran off with all the $$, fi real. Later, RR co-sponsored many Miami Reggae Fests. JA’s Sumfest & Sunsplash Fests-my faves-were jam-packed with locals & global visitors coming together in One Love. I witnessed Cartagena’s Caribbean Music Fest in a bullring (while pregnant) & the Cancun Bob Marley Fest on the beach. Being part of Fests from LA & Miami to NYC & Hawaii, & around the Caribbean was a total blast!
Caribbean Sunburst Poster ’82 – Sumfest Daybreak ’90s – MPQ Reggae Rockin’ in JA – RR Sumfest Co-sponsor ’90s – MPQ, Mikey Zappow, Sudden Impack land in Cartagena ’85 – MPQ with Directors Ron Burke (Sunsplash) & Walter Elmore (Sumfest) – Cartagena 100K Fans at Wall Concert ’88 – Sumfest Daybreak Crowd ’90s -Review Cartagena Fest ’88 – Click to View!
Gregory Isaacs – Didn’t know the Cool Ruler before meeting him thru Taylor in ‘81. He was a real character with a raspy voice that turned silky when he sang. In ’82, I convinced Gregory to headline at Sunburst. He’s featured on RR covers & articles, including an interview I did at his home shortly after his wedding & wild SuperJam ’83 performance. Also, catch his notable performance in the movie, Rockers. We remained friends over the decades, in spite of his expected, charming, fruitless advances. Gregory sadly passed at age 59 from cancer.
Gregory at his peak in the 80s – Me with Gregory at his shop in Kingston – Grumpy Gregory outside a Kingston studio – Gregory’s 1st RR cover in ’84 – Gregory live at SoFla Vintage Show in 2009 – Gregory live at Sunsplash – Click to View!
Haile Selassie I – The influence & teachings of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I has permeated Reggae since the late ’60s. Rastafari believe Selassie is the son of God/Jah. When I met Rasta elder Mortimer Planno in JA in the early ’80s, he kindly answered my many questions. RR featured a So Jah Seh section each issue that presented quotes & highlights of H.I.M.’s many speeches. We also featured historical articles on H.I.M., the beginnings of Rastafari in JA, & insight into the more modern Twelve Tribes sect. Many Rastas moved to Shashamene & the land granted them by Selassie in Ethiopia.
Emperor Selassie represented as the Lion of God – Selassie met by Planno on his 1966 arrival in Jamaica – HIM & his famous hands’ position – His Majesty on Time magazine cover 1930 – A Nyhabinghi drumming session – Bob Marley with HIM backdrop – Click to View!
Inner Circle – Met these uptown-Kingston “bad boys” in ’82 when I worked with producer Joe Gibbs, where their Miami-based pressing plant was nearby. For ‘82’s Sunburst fest, they were the backing ‘Fatman Riddim Section’ & again for our Marcia Griffiths show that same year. The band was featured on several RR covers & reported on & written about countless times, including a tour to Belize I was invited on. Memorable was a surprising offer from the leader I had to decline. We have a lot of history-from Top Rankin’ to Circle House-and were friends for more than 30 years, ‘til we weren’t. C’est la vie.
The Inner Circle band was May in my ’96 Calendar – Caught this backstage pic at White River ’90s – Roger, Me, & Lance somewhere – Cover V7#7 1989 – Cover V16#2 1998 – The Lewis Brothers – Took this at the airport on our way to the Belize fest – Click to view!
Jimmy Cliff – My introduction to Reggae was Jimmy Cliff and The Harder They Come – album & movie – while living in 1974 Nürnberg. I was hooked; my music found me. Meeting & working with Jimmy in ’81 was a true blessing. On a trip to NYC to work his show, I was introduced to Jagger & Yoko backstage! Besides being friends, he was my mentor when RR began in ‘83. He offered his home as a base when I traveled to Kingston. Once on the front stoop, he advised me to put a price on RR: “You haffi get paid for your work.” Good advice.
Me & Jimmy backstage, Miami late ’80s – Jimmy “Bongo Man” Cliff – Jimmy’s 1st RR Cover ’84 – V14#10 1996 Cover – My Jimmy cover, shot in his front yard, V4#2 1986 – V6#1 1988 Cover – Click to View!
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
The 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.
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 →
Second Grammy win for Toots and The MaytalBy Kevin Jackson, Jamaica ObsERVER
March 15, 2021 – Singer Leba Hibbert is overjoyed that Got to Be Tough, the last studio album released by Toots and The Maytals, won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album yesterday.
The event was held virtually at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The band’s leader was her father, Toots Hibbert, who died last September due to complications from COVID-19.
“This is so bittersweet. He died and didn’t get to accept the award himself. However, we are celebrating his win and we are grateful,” Hibbert, who also provided back-up duties for her father, told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the announcement
“This signifies more recognition to my father’s work and more fans. This is a great record and the songs speak about the times that we are living in. I’d say his win is historical,” she added. Continue reading →
Kingston, Jamaica – In the early days of Jamaican popular music, our female singers and songwriters played a major role in propelling our music onto the world stage. In fact, the first major international Jamaican hit recording was by one of Jamaica’s female pioneers, Millie Small, with her 1964 million-selling single “My Boy Lollipop.” Its success opened the doors for such artists as Phyllis Dillon, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Hortense Ellis, Pam Hall, Rita Marley, Carlene Davis, J.C. Lodge, Cynthia Schloss, Lorna Bennett, Dawn Penn, Sheila Hylton, and Nadine Sutherland, all of whom established themselves as mainstream recording and performing artists.
For some strange reason, however, the early achievements of our female artists did not result in the kind of follow-through seen by their male counterparts. For many years, we have failed to produce top-class female Reggae recording artists and performers. With the exception of the local and international successes of Diana King, Patra, Sasha, Foxy Brown, and Lady Saw, female Reggae and Dancehall artists have become a very scarce commodity over the last 25 years.Continue reading →