In January 1973, while he was in New York, Bob Marley met a young american artist and harmonica player named Lee Jaffe and an istant friendship begun. For the next 3 years Lee went everywhere with Bob (Carribean, USA, Jamaica) managing the earliest tour in America (Max´s Kansas City and Paul´s Mall among others) and playing harmonica on “Natty Dread Album”.
Marco Virgona: “You played armonica on `Rebel music´. Tell me how the record was made.
Lee Jaffe: Bob Began to write the song on a late night trip, driving from Negril to Kingston with his cousin Sledger at the wheel. Their were many police roadblocks during those days with Rastas always being profiled by the police for harassment. I was in the back seat playing harmonica and Bob just started singing and the words just flowed. Later when we recorded it Familyman stood next to me in the studio when I was overdubbing the harmonica and tapped me on the shoulder once when he wanted me to come in and twice when he wanted me to come out.
MV: Do you have a favorite song of Bob’s?
LJ: “Maybe two. So Much Trouble because it seems so relevant right now and because the bassline just knocks me out. and I really love Time Will Tell. I really wish I played on that.” When Marley was in Jamaica, Lee settled into accompanying him on his daily routine: running on the beach, driving through the ghetto, smoking, playing football and writing.
MV: “Tell me a little bit about Bob’s songwriting process”.
LJ: “Bob would work on writing songs nearly every day. Usually the process would begin with acoustic guitar. When I was around I´d be playing harmonica along with him. Sometimes Seeco Patterson, The Wailers´ percussionist would be banging on something. When he started to write he would often keep working on a song for days weeks or even longer, changing words or lines or altering a melody. When it would reach a certain stage of readiness he´d go into the studio and start to work with Familyman who would come up with basslines and work with Bob on arrangements and record demos to start to get the feel of what a record might sound like. I really admired his work ethic and attention to detail.”
MV: At that time Bob was very into religion: what do you think about Rasta faith?
LJ: The greatest thing that Rasta taught me was a respect for life and for all living things. At the end of 1973, the european tour broke up and soon Bunny and Peter started becoming less enthusiastic about being in the band.
MV: Do you know why?
LJ: They felt after the first two Island albums that they were not getting the chance to record enough of their own songs. It´s evident from their early solo albums that they both had tremendous songs stored away. I think both of them felt that that they would all eventually reunite.
Lee Jaffe left the band in 1975: when he would play his harmonica part on stage, Don Taylor would stand in front of him (Taylor would stand in front of Tyrone Downie and Al Anderson too, during them solos) and there were troubles with Bob over the “Natty Dread” album cover and title. Lee didn´t get credit for playing harmonica on the Lp and he protested also for the new title of the album changed from `Knotty Dread´ to `Natty Dread´. Lee found Bob a few years later, in 1980, living in two rooms suite at Wellington Hotel in New York. Bob looked very tired and very sick: he wasn´t able to hold his guitar and he was walking with difficulty.
MV: “Where and when last time you met with Bob?
LJ: “I spent everyday with Bob in New York while he was getting chemiotherapy. I think it was a period of several weeks. A very sad time…
MV: Is there anything in conclusion here that you would like people to know, anything you would like to comment on regarding you and Bob Marley?
LJ: “I was with Jack Healy yesterday, the great human rights activist and head of Amnesty International for many years and he commented that a few hundred years from now the most recognizable figure of the twentieth century would be Bob Marley. What an optomistic thought and what a blessing to have been able to make a contribution to the music and to help bring the music´s message to the world and how blessed I have been to have had such a great friend.”
MV: Fill me in briefly on what you´ve been doing for past 10 years and your future plans
LJ: I´ve had several large museum shows with my painting and sculpture including shows at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. I´ve also helped produce two albums with Barrington Levy and I am currently working on starting a reggae channel on KAZAA, which is the leading file sharing network.
MV: Thank you very much
Did you know that Bob Marley visited Martinica, Tobago and Haiti in january 1973?
Did you know that Bob met with actress Maria Schneider?
Did you know that Bob was an incredibly safe driver?
If you want to know all about this, you have to order “One love”, the superbe book by Lee Jaffe at: http://www.leejaffe.com you can also see several pictures of Bob and Peter in Jamaica.
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