Articles Comments



In March 1980, Bob Marley and Jacob Miller traveled to Brazil for the launch of their label Island Records’ office in Rio de Janeiro.
Within days of returning to Jamaica, Miller was killed (on March 23) in a motor vehicle accident in Kingston at age 27. One year later, Marley died from cancer in Miami, aged 36.
This year, Marley would have been 70 years-old. His legend, built on timeless songs, continues to grow through album reissues and merchandise ranging from organic coffee to children’s books.
Forbes Magazine named Marley among its five richest dead celebrities with earnings of US$21 million in 2015. He came in fourth behind Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and cartoonist Charles Schulz.
Miller was emerging as an international force at the time of his death. The charismatic lead singer of the Inner Circle band found a new generation of fans in 2015 thanks to a fresh spin on his classic song, Tenement Yard, by neo-roots sensation Chronic.
Tommy Cowan was a marketing executive for several record companies during the 1970s. He knew Marley and Miller well.

Cowan believes they stood out this year due to shrewd marketing by Marley’s family and Inner Circle.
He dismisses talk of the Marley name selling out and going commercial, given his anti-establishment image.
“You’ve got to remember, that this is a man who said ‘not one of my seed shall beg bread’.
What his children have done with things like the (Welcome To Jamrock) cruise just builds on his exceptional talent,” said Cowan.
He described Marley’s commercial prowess as a ‘gifting’.
“You can look at lots of artistes who have passed on and you hear nothing of them after. That never happened with Bob,” Cowan noted.

Though there have been several reissues of his songs and albums the Miller legacy is nowhere as lucrative. But the burly vocalist was back on Jamaican airwaves again, through Chronixx and Inner Circle’s take on Tenement Yard, sub-titled Newscarrying Dread.
“Inner Circle is still one of the leading reggae bands in the world and one of the most successful organisations. Because of that, they have been able to keep the name of Jacob alive,” Cowan explained.

During their performance at Rebel Salute in January, Inner Circle paid homage to their former colleague.
Recently, the band announced plans to ‘lend’ Miller’s vocals to a ‘Jawaiian’ music project. That sound, which originated in Hawaii, has a massive following throughout the Pacific.
Marley and Miller had similar stories. Both were born in rural Jamaica and came to Kingston as boys, first recording as teenagers for Leslie Kong and Clement Dodd, respectively.
They rose to prominence in the 1970s, a politically-divisive decade in Jamaica, but a fruitful period for the roots-reggae sound they helped define.
By Howard Campbell

Written by

Filed under: GUEST RUNDOWNS · Tags: ,

%d bloggers like this: