Cover of Rebel Music
The documentary, filmed by the filmmaker, photographer and Jamaican actress Esther Anderson, was lost for nearly 30 years.
Anderson was attending an event organized by the British label Island Records in New York, USA, in late 1972, when his countryman Bob Marley entered.
Bob Marley was invited by producer Chris Blackwell, who was hired shortly before the Wailers to Island Records. The band was on a promotional tour for his first album, “Catch a Fire”, although at the time the sales were low.
Anderson had co-starring in “A Warm December” with Sidney Poitier. Due to the success of that film, Bob Marley said he knew about her and had been following their progress in The Gleaner in Jamaica.
After hearing the first album by the Wailers, Anderson realized the enormous potential of the group.
“I heard the lyrics and listen to music, and knew it was an original music with original lyrics,” he says.
The world in 1973 was very different: the idea of a Jamaican-style supergroup the Beatles or the Rolling Stones was radical.
To help in advertising for the relaunch of the album, Anderson decided to photograph and film Marley, while touring the Caribbean with the attorney for Island Records and his girlfriend, and Jim Capaldi, the drummer of British rock group Traffic, which was hired by the same label.
“Bob was famous and then not seen in the pictures … it was like an outsider, not really with them,” says the filmmaker.
Back in Jamaica, she continued shooting with a Super 8 camera and photographing all members of the Wailers.
A moment recorded by the camera is very special to Esther Anderson.
“I call it a human moment,” he says, pointing to one of his photographs showing Bob Marley helping a man to change a tire of a car.
“The taxi was broken. Bob left the car, grabbed the tire and started to help people to change the wheel,” he explains.
“There’s this guy who thought it was not big enough to help another human being. For me it was very surprising, human and natural.”
Underneath the mango tree
Another of his photographs shows Bob Marley sitting under a mango tree.
“Bob called this office,” says Anderson, “because he said that” a man sitting behind a desk you can cheat in a thousand ways. “So if Chris wanted to meet with him had to do under the mango tree. ”
Much of the images were filmed at Island House, located at 56 Hope Street, Kingston, Jamaica, where time was an office of Island Records and is now the Bob Marley Museum.
The goal was included in a documentary filmmaker offered what called an intimate portrait of musicians to help Wailers get wider public recognition.
“Shooting the film to be shown in universities because it was so we threw all our artists. The students were the first to adopt the American music,” says Esther Anderson.
But it was not easy. She had to use the money he earned for his performance in “A Warm December” to finance the film.
“I had no budget. Chris gave me the green light but I had to do with myself. I assembled a team, get the equipment and started filming,” says Anderson.
The original Wailers, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Neville Livingston (later renamed as Bunny Wailer) – spent their days in Hope Street “talking philosophy and the suffering of the people.” Esther Anderson recorded this with his film and photographs.
Rasta and reggae
Marley Anderson encouraged to know the true Rastafarian and organized a picnic with Ras Daniel Hartman, the first painter Rastafarian in Jamaica and one of the stars of the 1972 film “The Harder They Come” (”The Harder They Come”).
With his camera, Marley and Hartman portrayed together. Behind the lens, she acknowledged that the marriage of rasta and reggae movement would show the world where it came from the music.
His images reflect this recognition and have become some of the most iconic portraits of Bob Marley. Her innovation was to include the colors and way of life of Rastafarians in their compositions.
“The red, green, gold and so were my ideas,” he says. “I shot, edited it and sent it [to Island Records in London].”
The images were used in the first Marley poster, t-shirts and on the cover of the album “Catch a Fire.”
Anderson recalls when he made the iconic photograph of Bob Marley smoking a marijuana cigarette that is still used to sell their image.
“That picture was taken on a beautiful morning. I asked him to remove his shirt because I loved the color of their skin. Sunlight struck his body was reflected in my lens. I used Kodak Ektachrome film that gave the precious golden light. ”
By March 1973, Esther Anderson left Jamaica to assist and help organize tours of the Wailers in the United Kingdom and the United States. She has left the tapes in the custody of Island Records, but when he returned “disappeared.”
The recordings were lost until 2000 when a British documentary knocked on his door.
Jeremy Marre had gone to interview for a documentary he was doing, “Rebel Music” (”Rebel Music”). It was then that she realized that, of the footage he had had tapes that were his property.
With these recordings, 38 years after the filming, Anderson is now presenting his film “Bob Marley – The Making of a Legend” (”Bob Marley – The Making of a legend).
Marley died 30 years ago but his music has a greater recognition that when he was alive. While completing a full career editing the documentary for submission to the British Film Institute on Saturday, March 19, Esther Anderson says he still feels that he died so young, when he was 36, despite his “prodigious legacy.”
And he thinks he would be doing if you were alive? “It would have continued to write great songs and probably breaking the hearts of many women and having many babies, like Charlie Chaplin,” he jokes.