Reggae Pon Park: Bob Marley Plaque to Be Unveiled in South London Park

Reggae Pon Park - Unveiling A Bob Marley Plaque In A South London Park
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[Bob Marley Plaque\London]
Dr. Jak Beula: "On behalf of the trustees of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, we fully support commemorating the last and largest musical appearance in London of Bob Marley & The Wailers. By installing a 40th-anniversary plaque at the Crystal Palace Bowl."
Photo: Kwaku\BBM/BMC

Reggae Pon Park - Unveiling A Bob Marley Plaque In A South London Park And Campaign To Name An East London Park's Square After An Africa-Focused Reggae Charity Concert.

Last night, racism, Afriphobia, structural racism and its intersection with music, and what music industry organizations are doing about it, were the topics under discussion at the BBM/BMC (www.BritishBlackmusic.com/Black Music Congress) race/ethnicity advocacy project RE:IMI (Race Equality: In Music Industry) convened Racism, Afriphobia & The UK Music Industry Zoom forum.

Although Bob Marley spent various times living in London before and after gaining fame, racism in the metropolis does not seem to have featured in any of his songs. One of the legacies of his time in London is however the jolly ditty 'Punky Reggae Party'.

On October 15, another legacy will be marked - the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Bob Marley & The Wailers' last and biggest London concert, which took June 7 1980 at the Crystal Palace Bowl in south London's Crystal Palace Park.

The event, which is part of Friends Of Crystal Palace Park's (FOCPP) work to get the Bowl in shape as a major performance space, features a Nubian Jak Community Trust (NJCT) blue plaque, which has the Ethiopian/pan-African/Rastafari tri-colours decorating the edge. It is supported by the London borough of Bromley, BBM/BMC, and Island records UK, who made a financial contribution to the plaque crowd-funding campaign.

“Bob Marley is a truly defining artist for Island Records. His music and his message are constant reminders of the power and the importance of music in people’s lives. The Crystal Palace Bowl concert is legendary and was also the last time Bob played in London. To have this giant of music and culture, honoured in this way, will help to inspire future generations and keep his message of love, hope, activism and spirituality alive.”-Louis Bloom President Island Records

“Having once shared the same manager in Don Taylor, the Crystal Palace Rose plaque is of particular importance to me. On behalf of the trustees of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, we fully support commemorating the last and largest musical appearance in London of Bob Marley & The Wailers. By installing a 40th-anniversary plaque at the Crystal Palace Bowl, we believe this would be the perfect continuation of our previous commemorations celebrating the life and work of this legendary music icon and band.”-Dr. Jak Beula Founder Nubian Jak Community Trust

"BBM/BMC supports this plaque project, which marks the last Bob Marley & The Wailers concert in London, and the first live performance of 'Redemption Song' in Britain."-Kwaku Founder of www.BritishBlackMusic.com /Black Music Congress (BBM/BMC)

2020 is a particularly special year, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the said concert and the release of 'Redemption Song', the last song Marley performed on a London concert stage, and Marley75. The event also marks African History Month.

Unlike last October's BBM/BMC-supported NJCT plaque unveiling ceremony in honour of The Wailers vocal trio at the former Island recording studio in Ladbroke Grove, where there were crowds on the street and who were later treated to a Wailers DJ set at the near-by Mau Mau Bar, because of current Covid-19 measures the general public is dissuaded from attending the unveiling.

However, watch this space (BBM Newsletter), and the BBM/BMC, NJCT and FOCPP social media for news about online coverage of the event, which will be graced by dignitaries, such as Jamaican Deputy High Commissioner Mrs Patrice Laird Granton, acting on behalf of the High Commissioner.

FOCPP is planning on making a documentary to mark Marley's biggest UK concert. So it is appealing to any Marley fans that have any memorabilia connected to the Bowl concert to make contact.

The park-related reggae runnings continue with news of London borough of Hackney's new consultation, which includes an online appeal for locals to name a new square within the £2m Shoreditch Park redevelopment scheme. Although the shortlist is made up of four veritable names, BBM/BMC is unashamedly partisan in suggesting it should be named BRAFA Square, in recognition of a reggae charity concert which took place in the park in 1986.

The concert was by a group of reggae acts called BRAFA (British Reggae Artists Famine Appeal) Team, which recorded an Ethiopian famine aid charity record 'Let's Make Africa Green Again' at Eddy Grant's Hive recording studios. The Island-released record helped raise over eight thousand pounds for Save The Children Fund's east African charity work.

The project was initiated by reggae vocal trio The Blackstones' Leon Lieffer, who co-wrote the song and co-produced the single, which featured vocals by the likes of Aswad, Dennis Brown, Gene Rondo, Janet Kay, Junior English, Keith Drummond, The Blackstones, Pioneers, Trevor Hartley, Trevor Walters, and Winston Reedy.

The outdoor concert to launch the single that took place, we believe, on Saturday Sep. 27 1986 at Shoreditch Park. And it all came about because a local, Leon Lieffer, was frustrated by the lack of African and reggae acts included in the Band Aid line up that recorded the 'Do They Know It's Christmas' Ethiopian famine charity single and the Live Aid concert.

The Team's dozens of artists were backed by the likes of bassist Ras Elroy Bailey, drummer Jah Bunny, lead guitarist Stanley, rhythm guitarist Ken Kendrick, pianist Paget King, tenor saxophonist Michael 'Bamie' Rose, trumpeter Tan-Tan, and trombonist Trevor Jones.

Besides BRAFA Square, the other names in the running for the Shoreditch Park Improvement Project and Britannia Leisure Centre development's new square are: Bradlaugh Square, named after Charles Bradlaugh, a local born in Hoxton in 1833. He was a political activist, atheist, freethinker, an advocate of trade unionism, and a supporter of universal suffrage. Humble Square honours the c.1900-1910 local residents who signed the Humble Petition asking for women to be given the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

And lastly, there's McKay Square, named after Claude McKay (1889-1948), the Jamaican socialist, writer, poet and activist. He lived in London from 1919-1921, where he spent much of his time at the International Socialist Club in Shoreditch. Pssstt: there are moves for a McKay plaque, so McKay fans should "feel no way" placing BRAFA in the top position.

To vote: http://bit.ly/NamingNewShoreditchSquare. Closing date is Nov. 11 2020. www.BBM.eventbrite.com www.AfricanHistoryPlus.eventbbrite.com

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