1973-12-20 Interview With Wanda Coleman , Vagabond Motel, Los Angeles , USA




Interviewer : Wanda Coleman
Date : 1973-12-20
Location : Vagabond Motel, Los Angeles , USA
Duration : Lost



Second Bob Marley's Marley interview conducted by Miss Wanda Coleman, December 1973 in Los Angeles

Miss Coleman was the first African-American journalist to ever do an interview of Bob Marley And The Wailers.



The interview that follows originally appeared in a December 1973 issue of Art Kunkin's L.A. Free Press.

Also, this interview was reprinted by Roger Steffens, when he guest-edited The Beat in 1994

Bob Marley was staying at the Vagabond Motel in Hollywood.

I wondered if it would look like that flea bag he was staying in the last time
I interviewed him.

Things had really been uncool that day.
Not only did the tape cartridge in the recorder louse up, but the Wailers
had an abundance of ganja on hand and were busy tuning in.

I was so uptight about being busted the doors were wide open that I could barely
concentrate on the interview.

I had been told Marley had to stay where there was a kitchen available since food
for vegetarians on the road is a major problem.
When I arrived I checked out the joint.

Hmmmm. Not bad at all. It wasnít the Beverly Wilshire, but....
Marley was in bed when I got there. He was dressed, lying across the bed napping.

The Wailers were in and about, and there was still an abundance of ganja.

While he got himself together, I set up the tape recorder, cursing it silently
daring it to cross me this time.

I looked around for a place to sit, put the tape recorder next to Marley on the bed
and sat down on the floor beside it so the microphone could pick up my questions.

Marley is fair skinned: about 5í9", not so much a thin build as a small one.
His eyes appear hazel, flecks of gray. His hair is medium brown, styled in the
massive dreadlocks worn by Jamaicaís Rastafarians.

I wanted to touch them, but resisted temptation.
Periodically, as we talk, Marley habitually ran his hands through, rather, over his locks.

Between my Black slang and his Jamaican patois, we had difficulty understanding each other.

Getting this from the tape onto paper was murder.

Wanda :

When did you get to bed last night?

Bob Marley :

We wake up about five oíclock this morning.

Wanda :

How has the tour been going so far?

Bob Marley :

Good and bad. But mostly good...I think some canceling must be going on
because Sly have a group that wanted to do this gig-you know-exposure.

Wanda :

Oh, you kind of got pushed out, shoved into the background, huh?
(He nodded and we both laughed.)

Wanda :

What are some good things about the tour? I mean, where did you go and how were the audiences?

Bob Marley :

The audienceís great! Go some city where, like Los Angeles, they got juke boxes.
They got juke box city..
You know, this place is out in the country, the desert.
Itís big place, pure gambling.

Wanda :

Oh! Las Vegas! Slot machines!

Bob Marley :

Juke boxes haha where they gamble a lot.

Wanda :

What was it like, playing there?
What did you think of Las Vegas?

Bob Marley :

I did not like it. It so much it a type of experience(We both laugh.)

Bob Marley :

I didnít like that much there.

Wanda :

You composed just about all of the songs [on the Catch A Fire album] didnít you?

Bob Marley :

Yeah. When I really compose I played plenty sounds you know.
But right now other members of the group dem start writing songs. Itís all got mixed.

First time we write, most of my songs used to be the ones more attractive to the people.
With this mixed thing, everybody start writing now.

So, you know, moreís strength.

Wanda :

You and Sly are so different sort of opposites.
Did you get a lot of Black people in your audience ?

Bob Marley :

You mean with the Sly tour? Yeah. Plenty Black people...
Sometimes I donít know if really Sly dig it that much because all our lyrics are so heavy.
Our dress, all of that. Still, we opposite of Sly, like maybe Sly really canít believe what we tell people.
But otherwise mahn, Sly a genius, yeah.

Wanda :

What are some of the problems in Jamaica ?

Bob Marley :

Sometimes the real problem is our Queen still run Jamaica.

After we have independence everybody pretend, like say Jamaica run itself.
Underneath they take order from the Queen.

Wanda :

Really ?

Bob Marley :

Yeah. That is one of the big nasty thing, why Jamaica riot, and much violence and otherwise,
because people just donít care again.

You can really feel the pressure coming in.
And when you Rasta, you fight against the Queen you no serve the Queen.

This brainwashing business and all of this "God Save the Queen," you know what I mean?
Because the police, the whole police force deal with the Queen,
what the Queen tell them from that time.

Then for after a while them have independence-you go to this big police place
itís the Queenís portrait still hanging there.

Wanda :

Her photoís still up in the police station?

Bob Marley :

Yeah. And so now we donít respect that authority so you know me no respect as Rasta.
We curse the Queen. We curse the Queen.

Wanda :

Do you have a family or are you by yourself-outside of your mother?
I mean, do you have an olí lady? Kids?

Bob Marley :

I donít know where my kids at.
My kids are by different girls, you know ?

Wanda :

Huh?

Bob Marley :

No really a one lady yet.

Wanda :

Anyone special?

Bob Marley :

No I donít really settle down.
No, I not ready settle down with lady.

Wanda :

Youíre not ready ? (I laugh. )

Bob Marley :

No-me not ready. (He laughs.)

Wanda :

[An unrecorded question about what kind of music Bob Marley likes to listen to when relaxing.]

Bob Marley: I really no listen to White music now...
The only thing I want to hear is some sweet music, like easy-listening music.

Wanda : What about jazz ?

Bob Marley :

We have jazz down there plenty...
Me, I couldnít even understand jazz.
I see all my friends listen to jazz. It took me a long time before I could dig it.
you know, Sun Ra, Coltrane, whatever.

Jamaican musicians was interested in nothing but jazz.

Wanda :

You yourselves are Rastafarians have a message.
But youíre not representing any specific group.

Youíre not a representative of anyone, youíre just bringing the truth and carrying the message ?

Bob Marley :

Yeah. We donít represent nobody. Us free..the free earth great...
The world rightfully His, His Imperial Majesty.

The Bible said that. So the White guy no really accept Imperial Majesty as God
Ďcause we donít really come from the inner prejudice world
Ďcause if youíre prejudiced you canít come free.

I cannot talk to White mahn and I talk to my Black people same way.

I canít just witness a truth and then shut my eyes like I donít know whatís going on
because itís easy for the Black mahn to look upon Imperial Majesty and say yes because dem Black.
Itís very hard for White mahn to say dem Black and Him God.
But itís very easy for the Black mahn to say heís Black and Heís God and itís true, you know.
Black mahn have to realize that He the greatest, He the King of Kings.

Wanda :

Say, last time I was here you were smoking, um...(We laugh.)

Wanda :

It ainít cool here, itís illegal here. Is it illegal in Jamaica?

Bob Marley :

You can get hassled for it down there, but if you know police you can send big guy big with police.
Some guys just leave you alone Ďcause you can tell a bigger mahn and big mahn may even push dem off the force.
It legal but it not legal... Sometimes you have police who wouldnít carry you to jail
for herb and then you maybe one out of 100 really carry you to jail for herb
if he catch us smoke herb.

But itís irregular, Ďcause you know when I go Jamaica, I go out into the country.
And you stop people who plant corn and yam in big field and when I check the people,
dem donít plant that again, you know?

The people dem plant pure herb.(I laugh. )

Bob Marley :

I look and I see the whole lot is weed....
People no plant food again. Itís pure herb dem plant.

Wanda :

What kind of significance does it have?
Does grass have that kind of religious significance?

Bob Marley :

Yeah, mahn.
But, you know, herb.

Wanda :

Okay. Herb.

Bob Marley :

Itís the healing of the nation.
You know, herb the thing what build up your feelings toward human beings.

Like you get sensitive to the things that hurt people, you know ?
And you get real sensitive, and you want to live in commune
if you can if you can get the chance to do it. Herb make you live with people good, you know?
You just have to live with people good because it tell you when you smoke it, it directly show you.
Itís love. Itís love in me.

So like directly itís like a mahn who tell you,
"Well, when I smoke this is love." You must deal in love, love all people
Ďcause sometime you have guys who smoke and dem smoke to have fun.

Like a guy who smoke and get high and thatís it.
We have a mahn who been smokiní since a child.
Him say, "Blessed the God Rastafari, Him ever faithful, ever sure."
Him pray before him start smoke.

So meditation is upon God, you know.
So him smoke and him meditating on God, him get plenty inspiration towards God.

Itís like people use herb for any direction they want to go...

I mean, if a guy smoke herb, him could be a bad guy, him meditate on how to be bad and if itís bad.
And if you smoke it to be good, it show you how it is to be good.
Itís not really herb still when itís reached by a pusher mahn.

Wanda :

You got a room here to cook your own food because youíre a vegetarian.
It gets to be a hassle, it gets to be difficult eating on the road, I would imagine.

Bob Marley :

Well, yeah. Because we donít eat pork or meat or anything.

Wanda :

Tell me why you donít eat meat.

Bob Marley :

Well meat. I personally do not believe in eating it while devils still in it.
Now you check the cow and say "beef."

Everybody eat beef.
You Can have more tender meaning toward a cow.
The cow give milk. I mean, should not really kill a cow to eat the cow.

Because I feel dem can drink the milk and then you have other things whaí you can get to ea
t to get the same things like meat protein.

Well, you can eat other things that is the same thing.
I donít exactly like big dead flesh in front of me.

Wanda :

Dead flesh-not any kind?

Bob Marley :

Well, we eat fish. Meat used to eat meat plenty. Then all stop eat meat.

You know, the Bible tell you the type of meat you cannot eat, like the cow.

You can eat the goat; him foot split.

Wanda :

Oh, cloven hooves?

Bob Marley :

And chew cud. Like the pig, now.
The pig have the cloven feet but him not chew him cud.
The donkey chew the cud but him donít have cloven foot.
So dem both have to have cloven foot and chew the cud.

Wanda :

You shouldnít eat ?

Bob Marley :

The one that have cloven foot and donít chew cud; or chew the cud but donít have cloven foot. See?

Wanda :

Oh, you can get away with eating the cow, but you canít eat the pig and you canít eat the donkey.

Bob Marley :

People eat it, but itís sickness.
Itís like the meat different, it really sickens people.

Wanda :

Iím just an old meat-eater.
I tried. I managed to give up pork. I donít eat pork any pork.

Well, no. This is something about Black Americans.
We just canít give up barbecued spare ribs, mahn.

Bob Marley :

Is it pork ?

Wanda :

I donít eat any bacon or ham or nothiní but barbecue spare ribs!
Here itís kind of a joke you can eat every part of the pig but his oink
and you can put his oink on radio for a commercial.

(Bob Marley laughs.)

Bob Marley :

What you want the pig for?
Pig have touch of devil inside him.

You know, pig, there was such a thing where dem have seven devils inside.
This is not White talk this is Black talk, you know?

Wanda :

How many devils inside? Seven?

Bob Marley :

Yeah. Seven devils inside the pig, but otherwise they grunt like inside the pen.
I tell you, mahn, me stop eat meat, me can feel different it feels different.

Wanda :

Do you think you could live here in the United States now that youíve seen some of it ?

Bob Marley :

No. I wouldnít really want to live here.
Soon as the people realize Rasta, dem go to Africa.

Wanda :

Youíd go to Africa?

Bob Marley :

Yeah, because even in Africa dem people live with His Imperial Majesty and do not know His greatness
because family too near to Him.
But Bible say that people from far off shall see it and know it, you know ?
And we take it Rasta.
I-mahn is right, Ďcause we in Jamaica-Marcus Garvey said it, you know.
They kill Marcus Garvey, I mean.
Some people say dem and me go along with people say dem doing that.
Well you can then really try and put dem on some crucifixion.

Itís time to go home. Itís time for the Black man really go home.



end of the transcript supplyed by Wanda Coleman.




Additional Informations And Comments :

- Thanks To Miss Wanda Coleman , she left our world in 2013.
- Audio part of this interview went lost, it doesnt exist anymore.
- This interview is featured inside miss Coleman book : 'Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors'.

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