Bob Marley Photos
At Proud Galleries we continue to collect and stock images of the most famous people in music history, and we continue to pioneer popular culture at our photography gallery London, featuring music, fashion, film, art, documentary and sporting shows.
There are few people in history they have made such a lasting impression as singer-songwriter Bob Marley, a life cut short in 1981 by illness, but leaving a legacy that lives on. A man who’s lasting images and sound, with the second highest social media (66 million on FB) following of any posthumous celebrity, and no 11 in Forbes list for Highest Paid Dead Celebrities, raking in $16 million in 2021. His hits like Is this Love and Jamming are streamed 1 billion times a year in the US. Just pause and consider that figure…
Bob Marley, Pictures and Images
The Bob Marley's images are emblazoned on every items across the globe from smoking paraphanalia, t-shirts, posters, wall art and more high value items like speaker and turn tables, the Marley Estate has also released their own brand of herb, Marley Natural Fine Cannabis, aimed at the legalised medical market.
It's reputed by photographer Denis Morris that Marley understood the power of images, how he was portrayed to the world, his reason for being here, his power in his music, he tried to show people what his message was, how if they believed in themselves they too could have that power.
Images of Bob Marley can be worth in their thousands, of course depending on what, where and when and maybe who captured them. Like many famous celebs every now and then unseen photos emerge, a dusty box uncovered, such as the ones that sold at the Omega auctions, shot at the famous London Lyceum theatre in 1975, capturing when No woman No cry was released as a single, those images went for over £25,000.
Bob Marley London
The BBC released a documentary in 2020 ‘When Bob Marley came to Britain’, once again Marley was back in the mainstream media in the UK, the memories fans and colleagues have of him coming to life on the streets of London, where he stayed, played football, the famous concerts, the secret concerts. It may be 40 years since his passing, but the feelings people have for him run as strong today as they did then.
Proud Galleries archive contains Adrian Boot’s iconic image of musician Bob Marley ‘Chilling and Guitar’. A shot that captures so much of the legend’s image.
The dreadlocks are there; a key part of Rastafarianism, (believers will not cut their hair until Babylon’s falls - Babylon is believed to be modern Western society).
The guitar: the vessel for music that was born in Jamaica and came to take the world.
Bob’s ever lasting profile, complete with a joint in hand, the herb that Rastafarians believe in smoking for religious ritual and for medicinal purposes.
His eyes are closed capturing the moment; a believer engaged in the act of faith.
Adrian Boot was on the front line of the birth of reggae, he started his career not as a photographer but as a teacher of physics. He was born in 1947, went to university for as long as possible and then headed to Jamaica in 1970 to teach. Photography for him was a hobby, something hat he didn’t necessarily take too seriously he said “Don’t forget, for a long time I just considered it to be a sabbatical. I thought that sooner or later I’d have to go back to teaching or get a proper job. I guess it was that that helped me through – the fact I didn’t really care gave me a bit of a cavalier approach. If I’d taken it too seriously, I wouldn’t have done what I did.”
Boot's photographs were able to catch the subject as though he was part of the group, what was going on at the time, many have tried to copy this style but often the photos feels lacking or staged. Boots said “it’s not just spontaneity” and having a camera to hand at the right time and the right place: “I record people and events – they already exist and if I’m lucky my presence doesn’t intrude too much”.
The image ‘Chilling and Guitar’ held at Proud Galleries is a classic example of this ability to be there in that moment, just capturing the inhalation, Bob Marley relaxes - a spiritual moment for him - and a lasting image, one that seems to carry Marley’s message of One World One love, much like Boot’s famous image that graces the cover of Bob Marley's best selling album Legend.
Adrian Boot's career never turned back to teaching, he went on to work as a freelance photographer, he filled the pages of NME, The Times, Guardian and was staff photographer for Melody Maker. He has captured some of the most iconic moments in music history, he documented the punk movement in the UK and the US, covered Live Aid, The Wall by Roger Waters, and the famous concerts at the pyramids by The Grateful Dead, Zeppelin, Jagger, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Steel Pulse, Tom Petty, Geldof . The list is endless.
Adrian released his first book with Michael Thomas in 1976 ‘Babylon on a thin wire’ a photo book of the state of Jamaica at the time, capturing the poverty and frustration and the growing rastafarism movement. This was first of a number of books that he would release looking at the story of reggae and Jamaican culture over the years.
He co-founded UrbanImage an ‘eclectic alternative collection’ of photography and he has toured with numerous exhibitions, much like one at shown here at Proud Galleries, documenting 40 years of Punk.
He continues to capture images from around the world, particularly in Asia, moments of positivity on this planet.
Bob Marley Performing
The story of Bob Marley and his rise to global fame and his sad demise are well documented, but there is something about his story that defines him apart from the other big hitters at the time. Dylan and the Beatles (see images of John Lennon!) had put a sound to the change in society in the sixties, going up against the Neo victorian establishment and, whether deliberately or not, helping start youth commercialism.
During these years Jamaica was redefining its music and developing the new Reggae sound against a backdrop of oppression, and prejudice, a biased political and social situation that saw the poor of Jamaica without much of a chance of lifting themselves out of their poverty.
Trench Town, Kingston in the 1950’s was a place where you had to be tough to survive. Growing up in one room shacks with no plumbing and facilities, it was an area which saw frequent fights and knife attacks, gang culture was rife and the powers that be where trying to stamp it out. This is where Marley came into his own.
Jamaican music had always spread the word of mistreatment and troubles, original calypso and mento songs. The importation of RnB music form the states soon began to find its own sound with the shift to the off beat, Ska was born and it was seen as a dangerous counterculture sound, against the establishment, music form the ghetto.
Marley started releasing his songs as the Beatles where setting the world on fire, 1963 saw Marley record Judge Not and then the important Simmer Down, recorded with what was to become the Wailers. It’s success saw the beginning of Marley’s ability to sing about the down trodden, the suffering and the uplifting of the human condition, a message that was to continue through out his career.
Another influence was Marley’s adoption of the religious beliefs of Rastafaraism, the exact timeframe for this is slightly disputed but Haile Selassie had visited in 1966, Marley had been in America and returned to find that his wife Rita had converted. Whether he followed suite straight away or as others believe later in the early ’70’s, either way once he took up the belief system, he was a lifelong convert. The conversion heralded the iconic look we now recognise as Bob Marley: The dreadlocks, the marijuana and the viewpoint on the modern day Babylon.
All that was left was to find the sound.
Ska had slowed its off beat, and became ‘rock steady’ as life in Jamaica was getting tougher, music changed to match the mood, a new sound to allow for the suppressed voice of the Rasta to come through was emerging. Reggae was here, a mixture of what had come before, but now propulsive and hypnotic, fast and slow, a vessel for the underclass to sing of their social injustice and to cry out their storytelling. Bob Marley had found his sound.
In 1972 Bob Marley came to the UK, he played a series of small gigs and had little success but then they return in 1973, and started to get the attention they deserved. A quick watch of the Old Grey Whistle test, Stir it up, 1973 and you can see what a tight fully formed band, with the reggae sound they are. Undoubtedly when Clapton release the cover of I shot the sheriff in 75, it helped people to discover them, but the sound and the message was clear, and the music, with its powerful lyrical messages, stories and warnings, that they recorded in the 70’s where to stay.
See also: our new information page on pictures of Steve McQueen!
Gradually Marley became recognised as a force akin to that of the big names such as Dylan and the Beatles, he was singing about injustice he had grown up with, the injustice that was still happening, and it was this that sets him apart, he had lived in hell created by others, he was bringing attention to socio-political injustices around the world, a new message of being free and universal liberation, set in beautiful melody and lyrical allusion.
The years have gone past but the message still stands, 40 years after he lost his life to a rare cancer, finally passing away in Miami at the tender age of 36, Bob Marley’s message is just as relevant now as it was then. One love.