Bob Marley has become much more than just a musician. While his musical legacy is one of the most acclaimed, especially in regards to its influence in bringing reggae global attention, Marley’s looks and simple style are equally iconic. His face is featured on seemingly endless lines of various merchandise and, it seems, even lakes try to adopt his likeness.
Now, a new exhibit at Los Angeles’ Known Gallery celebrates the music legend with “28 intimate portraits and live shots of Bob Marley in black and white and color” by British photographer Dennis Morris.
Morris, who took his first photo of Bob Marley (featured above) in 1974 in the back of a Ford Transit van, talked to Rolling Stone last month about the photos as well as his thoughts on organizing the event:
“Going through the photos, it just brings back the memories of being in the presence of such a powerful and influential man,” he says. “He shaped my career and my life, in a sense. I was a young kid with a dream of being a photographer, and I remember when they said to me, ‘Don’t be silly, there’s no such thing as a black photographer.’ But Bob said to me, ‘They will always tell you that you can’t do what you want to do, Dennis, but you can do what you want to do. You just have to believe in yourself. The system is to bring you down, but you can rise up.’ That was the beauty of Bob Marley, for me. He made me see that there was much, much more than what was out there.”
On April 1st, artist Shepard Fairey, best known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign and his 2008 Barack Obama “HOPE” poster, released a limited edition print (only 450 copies) of Bob Marley in honor of the Bob Marley: GIANT exhibit. The announcement of the print featured a quote from the 20th anniversary edition of his book, OBEY: Supply And Demand, about Bob Marley’s influence on Fairey:
“I bought Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibrations shortly after I started skateboarding in 1984, purely because the only good skateboard ramp where I lived was called “The Rasta Ramp.” I had mostly been listening to punk rock, but I was excited to discover reggae, which even more boldly embodied many of the same elements of social protest as punk but in a way that was much more palatable to my parents. I think my parents bought me Bob Marley and the Wailers records for every Christmas or birthday until I had accumulated their entire catalog; my very conservative grandmother even bought me a Bob Marley shirt from Jamaica. I leaned more towards punk, but some punk bands, most notably Bad Brains, embraced both punk and reggae. Bob Marley’s music always cheered me up during my high-school years of personal struggle. I’m always inspired by how steadfast and positive Bob was.”
Bob Marley: GIANT opened at the Known Gallery, in Los Angeles, on March 19th and runs through April 12th. More information can be found at the Known Gallery website.