Lost Live Restored Recordings Of Bob Marley To Be Sold At Auction Next Month In England

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[Reggae Music News] Photo: Facebook screenshot

"Tuff Gong" Bob Marley still making news...

When revolutionary Reggae musician Bob Marley died in 1981 the world lost one of the greatest songwriters and culturally iconic personalities we’ve ever seen. But the power of Marley’s musical message has not been lost and continues to inspire and impower millions across the globe.

Marley’s legacy still endures today. Every year, Marley’s music and memorabilia makes millions.

The Marley mystique continues with recent news of the successful restoration of lost live tapes.

Next month, on May 21, 10 digitally restored tapes of live concert recordings of Bob Marley and The Wailers will be sold by Omega Auctions in Merseyside, England. The recovered recordings were found in an old hotel basement in the north-west London neighborhood of Kensal Rise. Marley and his band stayed there during their European tours in the 1970’s.

The Marley tapes were first thought to be in an unsalvageable condition when they were first found. The recordings consisted of 13 reel-to-reel analogue master tapes. The live concert sessions were recorded by a mobile studio vehicle owned by the Rolling Stones. The recordings are from concerts at: The Lyceum, in London, in 1975; the Hammersmith Odeon, in London, in 1976; the Rainbow, in London, in 1977; and the Pavilion de Paris, in 1978.

The recordings eventually ended up in the hands of London businessman Joe Gatt. He turned to his friend, jazz singer Louis Hoover, for assistance with rescuing the recordings.

“When I finally saw the labelling and footnotes on the tapes, I could not believe my eyes,” Hoover said. “But when I also saw how severely water-damaged the reels were it was pretty gut-wrenching … there was plasticized gunk oozing from almost every inch.”

Hoover reached out to sound engineer Martin Nichols for help.

“When I first saw the tape reels I should really have said: ‘no thank you, guys,” Nichols said “They were covered in mold and had clearly suffered massive water damage. If anyone had even tried to play the reels in that state all the content would have been destroyed and lost for ever.”

But Nichols accepted the daunting task of rescuing these tapes. It took two years, but 10 of the 13 tapes were successfully restored digitally. “This was without doubt one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever tackled,” Nichols said. “I spent hours upon hours, inch by inch, painstakingly cleaning all the gunge off until they were ready for a (professional audio) process called ‘baking’ to allow them to be played safely.”

Hoover recollected how “very eerie” it was to listen to the tapes after the restoration, likening it to a “religious experience.” “We were immediately transported back in time,” Hoover said. “Especially Joe, as he’d actually been there in the crowd at the Lyceum on 18 July 1975, when he was just 22, on a friend’s spare ticket.”

Bob Marley passed away near forty years on May 11, 1981, officially of cancer. At the time of his passing, he was one of the most beloved, revered and recognizable music stars in the world. Rising up from the Jamaican slums of Kingston, Marley captivated millions with his inspirational messages of equal rights and justice.

Last year, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Reggae music an “intangible cultural heritage,” and added it to its list of important cultural institutions to be protected. Marley would be proud that Reggae, the music he helped make famous around the globe, is being honored in this way.

All these years later, Bob Marley’s positive impact on the world is still being felt.

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