Updated May 11, 2023
By M. Peggy Quattro
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.”Continue reading