Bob Marley: Reggae king's only Scottish gig remembered on 40th anniversary of his death

Bob Marley only played one gig in Scotland and, for those who were there, it was a night never to be forgotten as the Jamaican poured absolute heart, soul and spiritual energy into the performance.

Bob Marley in July 1980 on the Uprising tour of Europe, which included a night at the Glasgow Apollo. PIC: Monosnaps/Flickr/Creative Commons.

Todaymarks the 40th anniversary of the death of the Reggae king, who succumbed to cancer in Miami on May 11, 1981, aged just 36.

He played a gig at the Glasgow Apollo less than a year earlier, in July 1980, as part of the Tuff Gong Uprising tour of Europe.

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Those at the show recalled a night like no other as the Wailers took to the stage along with the joyous accompaniment of the I-Threes backing singers.

One man in the 3,000-strong audience recently told a fans’ forum: “The atmosphere was electric, a vibe I’ve never experienced before or since. I’m an atheist, but it was like being in the presence of a god.”

Journalist Frank Morgan, a reporter at the Evening Express in Aberdeen at the time, was among the crowd.

He told a newspaper last year: “I'll never forget the palpable air of excitement before we got into the Apollo. There was a buzz even on Renfield Street as I arrived from Aberdeen with my then-girlfriend and an old mate from school.

“The band came on and began a chug-along reggae beat. The I-Three backing singers came on and began to chant "Mar-ley woaaaahhh" over and over and soon the entire audience was singing along."

With the crowd wound up to fever pitch, Marley then appeared, skanking onto the stage from the left, the reporter recalled.

"The noise was deafening as the Apollo went crazy,” Mr Morgan recalled.

The reporter said Marley cut a small figure on the stage with his body dwarfed by his huge mass of dreadlocks.

He added: “But I doubt I've ever seen such a hard-working performance from an established star. The energy was so strong you felt you could have reached out and touched it.”

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The performance peaked with Marley playing Redemption Song on acoustic, with ‘Glasgow’ written on his guitar.

The crowd were mesmerised and it is said Marley cried during the song.

Bob Marley’s night in Glasgow was a one-off, but he did have an affinity with the city given his regard for Celtic Football Club.

In his autobiography, Celtic legend Dixie Deans recounted a chance meeting with Marley in Australia, where the musician spoke of his wish to go to Celtic Park and “kick a few balls there”.

The football and fitness fanatic kept videos of the team’s matches at home in Jamaica and had great respect for the Lisbon Lions squads who won the European Cup in 1967 against all the odds.

While touring Europe in 1980, he taped Old Firm games and took the recordings home for his son Rohan to watch.

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