The 24-track recordings, known in music circles as ‘The Lost Masters’, were originally thought to be damaged beyond repair by flooding and when found were covered in a sticky resin-like material.
But now, thanks to modern day technology, all but three master reels – prized by music aficionados – have been successfully cleaned and restored.
News of the discovery comes on the eve of what would have been the reggae icon’s 72nd birthday and will lead to a rush of excitement among music fans keen to listen to the treasures they contain.
The forty-year-old tapes are the original live recordings of concerts Bob Marley and the Wailers staged in London and Paris between 1974 and 1978.
The singer was then at the height of his powers and the concerts are still regarded as among the most memorable staged by any pop artist during that period.
The newly restored tapes feature versions of some of Marley’s greatest songs, such as No Woman No Cry, Jammin, Exodus and I Shot The Sheriff’, recorded live at the Lyceum, London, in 1975, the Hammersmith Odeon, in 1976, the Rainbow, in 1977 and the Pavilion de Paris, the following year.
The concerts were recorded on the only Mobile 24 Track Studio Vehicle available in the UK at the time, loaned out Bob Marley and the Wailers by The Rolling Stones.
But they were only discovered and rescued from the scrap heap by pure chance when Joe Gatt, a businessman and long-time Marley fan, received a phone call from a friend.
“I received a call from a friend telling me that he was doing a building refuse clearance that included some old discarded 2” tapes from the 1970’s,” he said. “Being a big music fan, who ironically, was actually in the audience for those historic Lyceum, Marley dates, I couldn’t just standby and let these objects, damaged or not, simply be destroyed…so I asked him not to throw them away.”