Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Reggae King's Rides

When Bob Marley and the Wailers released Babylon By Bus in 1978 - a live album recorded in Paris - the reggae superstar was depicting how he and the group travelled while on tour.

But in Jamaica, there were other vehicles that played an important role in the Reggae king's sojourn.

Former manager Allan 'Skill' Cole said that during the time of his association with Marley, the singer had different vehicles throughout various stages of his career.

"Him never fussy," Cole said, "but he had owned a couple of vehicles."

Cole, who had met the St Ann-born Marley in Trench Town during the early 1960s, was a football prodigy and represented Jamaica age 15. He later became a trusted friend and manager of the reggae icon.

Bob Marley (left) and his then manager Allan 'Skill' Cole.

"In the '70s ... about '70-'71, Bob had a Ford Escort," said the former national representative. "When him sell that, he bought a [Ford] Capri," he continued.

The former Santos, Real Mona and Boys' Town player explained that those two cars were the workhorses.

"The Escort and the Capri, dem two cars deh did the work ... we sold records from them in the early years," he said.

Cole, a former coach of Arnett Gardens and Port Morant United football clubs, said when Marley's financial standing improved, so too did the calibre of cars he owned.

"He bought a VW Sport ... then in '74 he bought the BMW," he said.

Marley's former manager explained that the luxury car was previously owned by a fellow musician and bought through a dealer.

"It was Pluto Shervington's BMW," he said. "We bought it through Claude Levy, who also had the franchise for Peugeot at that time."

Cole said he was the one who prompted Marley to purchase the BMW as it was in keeping with his superstar status.

reluctant to drive

"At first, Bob did reluctant to drive it ... I had it for the first couple days," he said. The former manager recounted that Marley had concerns.

"At that time, Rastas were still pushing handcarts," he said, so Cole had to convince Marley that "those days were gone".

"I then threw the keys to him," he said.

The former Kingston College and Vere Technical schoolboy footballer said on his return from Africa, Marley had added to his fleet by acquiring a VW van.

"That's the one down a Culture Yard in Trench Town," he said. That vehicle, Cole explained, was oftentimes used to pick up the Marley kids and used to carry out everyday chores.

At the Marley's Hope Road address — now home of the Marley Museum — the singer's Land Rover is still on display.

"Bob got this around 1976," said Paul Kelly, operations manager at Bob Marley Museum. "He mostly used this to make his country run to St Ann."

Kelly said that the Land Rover took the place of the VW as the utility vehicle for chores and pickups.

The operations manager recalled that in the early 2000s several visitors from Land Rover manufacturing company in England offered to buy Bob's Land Rover. "But we couldn't sell it ... it's priceless," he said.