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February 12, 2014

When the King of Reggae Met the King of Pop: Rare Photos of Bob Marley Hanging Out With Michael Jackson in Jamaica

Were you aware that the King of Reggae once occupied the stage alongside the King of Pop? What is perhaps most amazing about this small bookmark in Marley’s life is that the odds of two future megastars meeting and performing together on the same stage are so infinitesimal that they are incalculable.

The year was 1975, the same year that Bob Marley breaks internationally with the hit single “No Woman, No Cry” from his Live! album which was recorded over two consecutive nights at London’s Lyceum Theatre in July 1975. In Michael Jackson’s very first trip to Jamaica, Motown’s Jackson Five visited the island to perform a show headlined by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Despite Michael and Jermaine’s solo successes, the Jackson Five, which also included brothers Marlon, Jackie, and Tito – and later Randy – were on the decline in 1975, and would leave the Motown label just one year later resulting in the group being sued by Motown for breach of contract. This meant little to the adoring fans in Jamaica who relished the opportunity to see Michael Jackson perform alongside their beloved Bob Marley. As a solo artist, Jackson had already sold several million records by the time the group made their first visit to Jamaica.

The Jackson 5 and The Wailers hang out on a fallen mango tree at 56 Hope Road with promoter Chester McCullough and some close friends.

The Jackson 5 and The Wailers hang out on a fallen mango tree at 56 Hope Road with promoter Chester McCullough and some close friends.

The Jackson 5 and The Wailers hang out on a fallen mango tree at 56 Hope Road with promoter Chester McCullough and some close friends.

Michael and Marlon Jackson at 56 Hope Road with Seeco Patterson (right). (Photo by Lee Jaffe)

The Jacksons' mother Katherine Jackson with Marley.

The show, which was initially scheduled for February 15, 1975, was held at Kingston’s National Arena on March 8, 1975 and featured the Wailers original line-up of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer along with Carlton Barrett (drums), Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass), Al Anderson (lead guitar), Lee Jaffe (harmonica) and a brass section of Bobby Ellis (trumpet) and Richard “Dirty Harry” Hall (saxophone). Also on the bill were Marcia Griffiths, Bongo Herman, and the I-Three. The Jackson Five took the stage nearly an hour and a half prior to the Wailers and gave a tremendous performance with their fancy footwork and hit songs.

Original announcement of the concert.

Advertisement in local Jamaican newspaper.

The show lasted for more than six hours with the Wailers playing until 4:00 a.m. The fans couldn’t get enough of Marley, Tosh, and Livingstone with the audience in the ten dollar section being forced to break through police barriers into the fifteen dollar seats in order to get a better glimpse of the stage.

Bob live at the Wailers/Jackson 5 concert in Kingston, 1975 (Photos by Neville Garrick © Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd.)

Bob live at the Wailers/Jackson 5 concert in Kingston, 1975 (Photos by Neville Garrick © Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd.)

The Wailers performing together for one of the last times, on the same bill as the Jackson 5 at the National Arena in Kingston, 1975 (Photo by Neville Garrick © Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd.)

According to a review of the show by Balford Henry which was published in the Jamaica Gleaner on March 11, 1975, poor seating organization and technical audio problems resulted in the show starting almost two hours after the scheduled start time. Comedian Ranny Williams had the unfortunate task of warming up a crowd already frustrated by the late start.

All was forgotten as the Wailers wrapped their set just after 4:00 am with the crowd still dancing and cheering for more. As reported by Balford Henry in his review of the show in the Jamaica Gleaner, the show ended with “hundreds of Bob Marley and the Wailers fans still dancing inside the National Stadium clamouring for more.”

Here are some live shots from the Jackson 5’s concert in Jamaica, 1975:





(via BobMarley.com)




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