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Bob Marley's lost tapes to be shown

Published:Saturday | March 19, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Paul-André Walker, Entertainment Editor

After 30-some-odd years, and even after his death, there might still be a side to reggae legend Bob Marley very few have seen.

Esther Anderson, a close friend of Marley from as early as the 1970s, when the reggae icon was still relatively unknown outside Jamaica, will release a documentary on the legend. Titled Bob Marley - The Making of a Legend, the feature will have footage previously thought to have been lost.

According to a story on bbc.com, released days ago, Anderson had left her career as an actress to try to help promote Marley whose first album was not doing well.

Catch A Fire caught fire before Anderson released the footage, which she had thought was lost at Island Records on Old Hope Road (today it is The Bob Marley Museum).

The BBC report says the film charts the rise of Bob Marley and The Wailers.

The report also indicates many other elements of Marley's life that are well known.

Anderson is quoted for instance, as saying, she thinks if Marley were alive today, he would still be breaking hearts.

More to the point, however, the article points out that, even at that stage, (according to Anderson) Marley had the very recognisable makings of a star - though he never knew it.

Thus, the idea of filming intimate moments that would bring that star power into focus was the point of making the film.

own money used

The article also points out that Anderson, who had just done a film with Sydney Poitier, had to use her own money to make the film because the project was not backed financially by Chris Blackwell's Island Records.

"I had no budget. Chris said go ahead but I had to do it on my own. So I gathered a crew and equipment and I started to film," the article quotes Anderson as saying.

Anderson also speaks intimately about what life was like with The Wailers during the time she made the tapes.

According to her, the original Wailers spent much of their time at Island Records discussing "philosophy, the sufferings of the people." Her memory of things of that nature is captured on the film and with photographs.

The article claims that Anderson played an integral role in leading Marley to Rastafarianism.

That marriage came through a meeting with Ras Daniel Hartman, who she is said to have introduced to Marley.

That meeting also showed, according to the article, the potential of strengthening the link between Rasta and reggae, a link that today seems inextricable.

"The red, green and gold and all of that were my ideas," Anderson is quoted as saying in the article.

"I shot the thing and put it together and sent it over [to London]."

The images, as have become popular knowledge, were used to sell Marley's image - the most memorable, of course, being the picture of Marley smoking a spliff.

The recordings haven't just been found though, as it was approximately 11 years ago that Jeremy Marre, a British documentary maker, had a meeting with Anderson. From that meeting, stemmed a relationship that would lead her to the tapes. Marre had actually gathered the tapes among archive material he had intended to use.

The film, called Bob Marley - The Making of a Legend, is made with Gian Godoy and will be presented, though not in finished form yet, at the British Film Institute in London as part of the African Odysseys programme.

The programme, which seeks to reveal little-known facts about black history will also feature 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine'.

That film, produced by Dick Fontaine and Pat Hartley, is a film essay, written by James Baldwin.

The film seeks to speak about the civil rights movement, what works and what didn't.

It features Baldwin, his brother David, Chinua Achebe, Fanni Lou Hamer, Amiri Baraka, and other friends Baldwin made during the '60s.

Baldwin takes a critical look at the strategies and tactics used by the black community in the '60s during the civil rights movement.