Book Review: ‘Oral History of Bob Marley’

Go Lean Commentary

Bob Marley was not a saint; but he was saintly. – Author Roger Steffens

Marley SmilingBob Marley was perhaps the most influential person of Caribbean heritage; arguably so. He died 36 years ago, after living only to the age of 36. We have doubled the years of his life …

36 years here … 36 years gone!

… but it seems as if he lived a life of achievement equaling two or 3 lifetimes.

He was more than just a musician or an entertainer, he was a revolutionary icon. Many of the advocacies that he championed have now come full circle; come to fruition and come to regret:

In fact, references to Bob Marley have been consistent for the movement behind the book Go Lean… Caribbean – a guide to confederate, collaborate and convene the 30 member-states of the Caribbean region into a Single Market – he is mentioned in the book (Pages 119, 133 & 218) and featured in multiple blog-commentaries: A Lesson in History from Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldiers Bob Marley: The legend lives on!

We now learn even more about Bob Marley in the new book by Reggae Archivist Roger Steffens, entitled: So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley. See a summary-review of that book here and listen to an AUDIO-Podcast interview with the Author:

Book Review for Book: So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley
By Roger Steffens 

Oral History of Marley 1

A revelatory, myth-shattering history of one of the most influential musicians of all time, told in the words of those who knew him best.

Roger Steffens is one of the world’s leading Bob Marley experts. He toured with the Wailers in the 1970s and was closely acquainted with Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and the rest of the band members. Over several decades he has interviewed more than seventy-five friends, business managers, relatives and confidants—many speaking publicly for the first time. Forty years in the making, So Much Things to Say weaves this rich testimony into a definitive telling of the life of the reggae king—the full, inside account of how a boy from the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, became a cultural icon and inspiration to millions around the world.

The intimacy of the voices and the frankness of their revelations will astonish even longtime Marley fans. Readers see the intense bonds of teenage friendship among Peter, Bunny and Bob, the vibrant early sessions with the original Wailers (as witnessed by members Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Green) and the tumultuous relationships with Rita Marley and Cindy Breakspeare.

With unprecedented candor, these interviews tell dramatic, little-known stories, from the writing of some of Marley’s most beloved songs to the Wailers’ violent confrontation involving producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bob’s intensive musical training with star singer Johnny Nash and the harrowing assassination attempt at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, which led to Marley’s defiant performance two nights later with a bullet lodged in his arm.

Readers witness Marley’s rise to international fame in London, his triumphant visit to Zimbabwe to sing for freedom fighters inspired by his anthems and the devastating moment of his collapse while jogging in New York’s Central Park. Steffens masterfully conducts the story of Marley’s last months, as Marley poignantly sings “Another One Bites the Dust” during the sound check before his final concert in Pittsburgh, followed by his tragic death at the age of thirty-six.

So Much Things to Say explores major controversies, examining who actually ordered the shooting attack on Hope Road, scrutinizing claims of CIA involvement and investigating why Marley’s fatal cancer wasn’t diagnosed sooner. Featuring Steffens’s own candid photographs of Marley and his circle, this magisterial work preserves an invaluable, transformative slice of music history: the life of the legendary performer who brought reggae to the international stage.

Source: Amazon Online Bookstore-Portal; retrieved July 13, 2017 from: 


AUDIO-PodcastBob Marley: Versions Of The Truth –

Bob Marley: Versions Of The Truth

Published July 10, 2017 – Reggae historian Roger Steffens has written that “there are no facts in Jamaica, just versions” of the truth. That’s certainly the case with the star of Steffens’ latest book: Bob Marley.

Marley lived a life of art, inspiration and hard and fast adherence to his principles and spirituality. While he only lived to the age of 36, Marley and his music inspired a wave of devotees who fought for freedom, as well as a few enemies who wanted him dead.

But even though he was a global superstar, there are many mysteries and misconceptions about Marley.

Steffens new book, “So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley” gathers 40 years of interviews with those closest to Marley to separate truth from the various versions.

Host Joshua Johnson interviews guest Roger Steffens, reggae archivist and author of the book “So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley“.

We learn so much more about Bob Marley and Caribbean culture from these foregoing media productions. Marley was truly a musical genius who overcame obstacles and the challenge of a dysfunctional Jamaican society to soar and shine as a star in the world of music. This corresponds with a theme in the book Go Lean…Caribbean which relates that genius – in its many forms, be it music, arts, sciences, sports, etc. – can flourish in the Caribbean … with the proper fostering. The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This would be an inter-governmental entity to promote a regional Single Market that covers the homelands of all 30 Caribbean member-states. This effort strives to advance Caribbean culture. The Go Lean/CU roadmap features this prime directive, as defined by these 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect public safety and ensure the economic engines of the region, including the seas.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean roadmap recognizes that a prerequisite for advancing society is a change in the Caribbean “community ethos”. This book opens early with the declaration that music can contribute to the fabric of society, but that society must contribute to the fostering of musicians. The book relates that such an attitude – community ethos or national spirit – can be forged in the entire region; see these statements in the Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 13 – 14):

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

As related in a previous blog-commentary regarding Bob Marley …

“… he was the embodiment of all of these above values. He impacted the music, culture and economics of the region. He set a pathway for success for other generations of talented, inspirational and influential artists – musical geniuses – to follow. Other artists of Caribbean heritage are sure to emerge and “rock the world”; we are hereby “banking” on it, with these CU preparations.”

The CU presents that change has come to the Caribbean; with this Go Lean movement, there is a plan for new stewardship so that the Caribbean can better avail themselves of the benefits of music. So when we consider Bob Marley – as gleaned from the foregoing book by author Roger Steffens – we can assign all these descriptors and attributes to him:

  • Artist – Musician
  • Caribbean Ambassador
  • Inspirational Leader
  • Saintly, though not a saint.
  • Role Model for the Future

The world may never see another “star as bright” as Bob Marley; but we can still learn from his Role Model. The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society. Consider the sample from this list detailing this “how” for the Caribbean region to foster more musical geniuses:

Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos –Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Celebrate the music, people and culture of the Caribbean Page 46
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Patents & Copyrights Page 78
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Culture Administration Page 81
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 118
Advocacy – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage Image Page 133
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Jamaica – To make it less dysfunctional Page 239

Bob Marley – 36 years here … 36 years gone!

We urge all Caribbean stakeholders – governments and citizens alike – to learn the lessons from the life and legacy of Bob Marley, and then lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap to make the Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


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