Bob Marley: the American connection

Marley had a strong association with American impresarios and musicians going back to the 1960s.

Among them was Danny Sims. Born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago, Sims made a name as a show promoter in the 1950s. In a 2002 interview with the Observer, he said he first came to Jamaica in the early 1960s as manager of rhythm and blues acts who performed at the Carib Theatre.

While here in the mid-1960s, he and business partner/singer Johnny Nash met the Wailers which comprised Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny ‘Wailer’ Livingston. Sims funded several recording sessions with the group, producing versions of songs they did for producer Clement Dodd, like How Many Times and Put It On.

Marley also signed with Cayman Music, Sims’ publishing company. Sims was part of the Marley management team on his 1980 US tour.

Johnny Nash met Marley at a Rasta ‘groundation’ in the mid-1960s and introduced him to his business partner, Danny Sims. The Texas-born Nash recorded a popular rocksteady album (Hold Me Tight) and developed a strong following in Europe.

He also recorded some of Marley’s songs including Guava Jelly and Stir It Up. For a time, it was believed Nash would break the emerging reggae sound in the US, but that never materialised.

The Wailers (Peter, Bunny and Bob) were opening act for Nash on his winter tour of Britain in 1971.

Lee Jaffe: he met Bob Marley in New York City in 1973 and followed the singer back to Jamaica, becoming part of his inner circle. He also played harmonica on Marley’s breakthrough 1974 album, Natty Dread.

Jaffe was instrumental in former Wailer Peter Tosh’s signing to Columbia Records. He was intimately involved in the release of Legalise It, Tosh’s acclaimed debut album for that label.

The New York-born Jaffe went on to work with singer Barrington Levy on his 1993 album, Barrington. In 2003, Jaffe compiled a number of photographs he took during his time in Jamaica during the early 1970s, for the book, One Love: Life With Bob Marley and The Wailers.

Al Anderson, the New Jersey-born guitarist, met Bob Marley in London where he (Anderson) was trying to make a living as a session guitarist. He came to Jamaica in 1973 and ended up working on Natty Dread, the 1974 album some critics rate as Marley’s finest work.

Anderson left the Marley camp after Natty Dread and joined Peter Tosh’s Word, Sound and Power band. He played guitar on Legalise It and Equal Rights, Tosh’s opening albums for Columbia Records.

By the late 1970s Anderson was back in the Marley fold, touring and recording on the Survival and Uprising albums.

Strongly influenced by Albert King and Jimi Hendrix, Anderson continues to keep busy. He toured with singer Lauryn Hill for some time, but is now a member of the original Wailers band which also includes former Wailers guitarist Junior Marvin.

Donald Kinsey: Born in Indiana and steeped in the blues, Kinsey joined legendary blues guitarist Albert King’s band when he was only 16 years old. He was shopping a deal for his White Lightning band in 1975 when he saw a poster of Bob Marley in the New York City office of Island Records, the label which Marley was signed to.

Kinsey aggressively sought out the singer after listening to some of his songs. Marley eventually enlisted him to play guitar on his 1976 album, Rastaman Vibration, which was recorded in Kingston and Miami at Criteria Studios.

Kinsey toured the world with Marley to promote Rastaman Vibration. He was at Marley’s Hope Road residence in December, 1976 when gunmen invaded the premises and shot Marley, his wife Rita, and manager Don Taylor.

Fearing for his life, Kinsey left Marley’s band and later became an integral member of Peter Tosh’s group. That’s him playing guitar on Tosh’s cover of the Chuck Berry classic, Johnny B Goode.

Donald Kinsey lives in Indiana and plays in the Kinsey Report band with his two brothers.


 (jamaica observer)

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