1973-12-XX Interview With Wanda Coleman , Tropicana Motel, Los Angeles , USA

Interviewer : Wanda Coleman
Date : 1973-12-XX
Location : Tropicana Motel, Los Angeles , USA
Duration : 40:00mn

Interview with Wanda Coleman, courtesy of Michael Watson / Midnight Raver Blog :

Bob Marley interview w/ Wanda Coleman, Los Angeles, CA 1973 by Jah Raver on Mixcloud

This Bob Marley's interview was recorded early December 1973 in Los Angeles at the Tropicana Motel.

Miss Wanda Coleman,
Native of Los Angeles,raised in the community of Watts, during the past two decades

Wanda Coleman has written two thousand poems

The rewards she has gotten during her lifetime were :

1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize
2001 National Book Award bronze-medal for Mercurochrome and Ostinato Vamps
received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation for her poetry

the Wailers interview was featured as article called 'Jah in Packaging':

The record promoter had set it up for me to meet this guy Bob Marley and his group
The Wailers, at the Tropicana Motel used to be up on Sunset.

They sent me the Catch A Fire LP.
I liked the sound. When I got there Marley was sleeping.

I waited outside about twenty minutes before they finally invited me in, nervously clutching my tape recorder.

In those days I enjoyed celebrity interviews.
Almost all of the stars I talked to were Black men and women.

The usta-wasses, the justabouts, and the wannabes.

Among them were Smokey Robinson, Jerry Butler, and Martha Reeves, long without the Vandellas.

Most were into blues, soul, or rock. But this Marley guy was something new.

He was on his second tour of the U.S. and on the verge of igniting the reggae rage .

A petulant, gorgeous mahogany Peter Tosh opened the door when I knocked.

He had on cutoffs, a denim shirt open at the chest, and this large yellow, red, green, and black cap.
There was an odd electricity in the air, and I immediately suspected an argument had just taken place.

The Barrett brothers were standing around.

Brown-skinned Bunny "Wailer" Livingstone was sitting in a lounge chair
his massive dreads draped in a partial snood. He rose and went to the bathroom to check on Bob Marley

a big funnel-like thing held in his fingers.

He was taking puffs from it. I'd never seen any such dingus before.

Wanda Coleman :

"What's that?"

Peter Tosh :

"A spliff," Tosh answered.

Wanda Coleman :

"A what?"

Peter Tosh :

Wanda Coleman :

"Oh." I got it.

But I didn't smoke marijuana on my own and, at that point, had never been high.

Peter Tosh was darkly edgy.
Bob Marley trailed Bunny Wailer into the room, yawning sleepily.

Peter Tosh gestured, and they went off into a corner of the room
the three exchanging words in rapid-fire shanty-town patois, too quickly for me to understand

then Tosh about-faced and hit the door.
The Barretts stood silently for a moment, then followed Tosh outside.

Bunny Wailer opened a leather pouch and busied himself rolling another spliff,
stuffing it with a rich red-brown weed as tangled as his dreads.

Marley sat down on the bed. I looked around for a comfortable squat.

One of the Barretts appeared with a chair.

I sat the tape recorder on the bed next to Marley, and scooted up to the edge of it so that I was close to the microphone.

He was handsome, with small features and honey-colored skin, and radiated magnanimity.
His finely braided dreads were slightly flattened in the back where he'd lain in bed.

He was bare-chested, modestly buff, in denims and bare feet.

I tried not to stare, said there was no hurry and he could put on a shirt if he wanted.
Bunny snorted, went into the closet, came back with a light blue, long-sleeved shirt and tossed it to Marley.
He put the shirt on but left it hanging loosely open.

As I did a brief sound check, I looked over at Bunny Wailer.

He had fired up the dingus and was pointing it at me. I looked around.
The door was standing wide open, failing to close behind the hasty exit of the two Barrett brothers.

Marley reached for the spliff, took a draw, and inhaled deeply.
He handed it to me, amused. I looked at it.

Shit-what if I, we, get busted?

The seconds were stretching out, and I figured that if I wanted a good interview I'd better go along with the ritual.

I took the spliff and imitated Marley, drawing deeply, inhaling and letting the smoke exhale through my mouth and nose.
They watched me closely.

Bob Marley :

"Youlikedatganja, eh?"

Wanda Coleman :


Bob Marley :

"Ganja. We grow it in Jamaica."

Wanda Coleman :

"Oh. Sure. Yeah. It's great,"

I lied.
I was afraid I'd end up too punchy to do a decent interview.

But I was so numb with fear I couldn't feel anything except the sweat rising in my scalp.

In those days I wore studded denim slims constantly, black leotards, stacked-heeled boots, and a black leather jacket.
I wore my hair in a packed trim little three-inch afro, always accented with monster earrings.

I fancied myself a cultural outlaw, but wasn't looking forward to cooling my butt in Sybil Brand for possession.

During the Marley interview I kept glancing towards the door.

No irate police officers appeared.

Later, I learned that motel management discretly looked the other way, and that the gendarmes tacitly avoided the Tropicana
infamous for housing music business banditos, unless violence occurred.

Swallowing my fear with the smoke, I proceeded with the interview.

Marley was laid-back, open, and made a major effort to communicate.
It took about twenty minutes for us to get into each other's idiomatic rhythms.

Reggae/dub/ska was such a fresh cultural phenomenon

I had few linguistic reference points.
That night and into the next day, I spent sixteen hours poring over the tapes, doing my best to "translate" our awkward exchange.

I was very proud when my Marley interview made the front page of the L.A. Free Press, Art Kunkin's underground counterculture rag of local note
months away from folding.
When I read that interview now, I blanch.

As strong an impression as the Wailers' music left on me, their hair left the strongest impression of all.

For months afterwards I thought about Marley, the Wailers, and their wonderful Rastaman dreadlocks.

I envied them their hair freedom. I fought the temptation to go nappy, reminding myself that I had two children to support.
I was experiencing enough hostility towards my afro, from both Blacks and Whites

Additional Informations And Comments :

Thank You Miss Wanda Coleman , bless your soul, she passed away in november 2013.

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