The other day I was talking about Burning Spear with my brother and about how he must see the old time Reggae great in concert this week in New York. After Bob Marley, Winston Rodney (aka”Burning Spear”) is one of the central most important figures in the history of Reggae, and one of the foremost proponents of Roots Reggae and the Rastafari movement.
In the early 1970s, Burning Spear released Marcus Garvey, his signature LP dedicated to the Jamaican Pan-Africanist. While discussing the importance of this LP, Burning Spear’s unmistakable sound, and his role in the music, it hit me that no where in Bob Marley’s lyrics or discography is Marcus Garvey given any relevance. Bob Marley’s music was firmly grounded in Rastafarianism, yet strangely he makes no mention whatsoever of the prophetic Garvey. On the other hand, Garvey was consistently a major theme throughout 1970s Roots Reggae.
It would seem, in reference to Burning Spear’s song — that Bob Marley did not remember Old Marcus Garvey.