HOW GOOD A GUITARIST WAS BOB MARLEY?

Bob Marley—-

February is designated Reggae Month and the Jamaica Observer is continuing its coverage of stories making the occasion.

IMAGES of Bob Marley with his acoustic or Gibson Les Paul rhythm guitar have been immortalised by photographers and sculptors.

But just how good a guitarist was Marley? Because he worked with outstanding ‘axemen’ during the 1970s, his playing was usually overshadowed.

On most of his albums for Island Records, Marley is usually credited on rhythm or acoustic guitar. His distinctive rhythm strums can be heard on songs like Rebel Music, Rastaman Vibration, and Exodus; his unplugged skills stand out on the acoustic ‘hymn’ Redemption Song.

Master guitarist Ernie Ranglin says Marley approached him in the late 1970s to tour with his band as musical director. Ranglin would also help the singer expand his guitar playing.

Ernie Ranglin in the 1960's

Ernie Ranglin in the 1960′s

“I was with Jimmy (Cliff) at the time and I don’t really believe in jumping ship. I do things in a uniformed way,” Ranglin told the Jamaica Observer.

Ranglin knew Marley since the early 1960s when he was a member of the Wailing Wailers at Studio One. Ranglin played the memorable jazz solo on their 1964 hit song, It Hurts to be Alone.

While Peter Tosh was considered the musician of the group, Ranglin says Marley held his own as a guitarist.

“He was a good player. He could have been better with proper tutoring.”

Bob Marley and Johnny Nash

Bob Marley and Johnny Nash

Marley and the Wailers were associated with talented guitarist during the Island years. They include Americans Wayne Perkins (he played the searing solo on Concrete Jungle), Al Anderson and Donald Kinsey, and Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and Junior Murvin.

Marley, who would have been 69 years old today, died in May 1981 from cancer at age 36.

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