Newly released Bob Marley biopic is a reminder that every little thing’s gonna be alright


Museum guides don’t usually break into song when they give a tour, but that’s what happens when I visit Bob Marley’s former home in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

‘No woman… No cry…’ 24-year-old Oneika Young sings with passion, reminding visitors of one of the reggae star’s best-known hits.

Beside me in what is now the Bob Marley Museum is a fascinating parade of memorabilia from tour posters and stage props to his denim-covered bed and the Land Rover, customised with red, gold and green-striped seats, that the singer drove around in.

Such details flesh out a soulful performer who rose from rural poverty to become a superstar, playing to crowds of more than 100,000. Tragically, it all ended abruptly when Marley died of cancer in 1981, aged 36, leaving some terrific music that is as popular as ever.

The late singer currently has more than eight million Instagram followers and is back in the spotlight with the release of the biopic Bob Marley: One Love which hits UK cinemas on Wednesday.

Jammin’: A new Bob Marley biopic features 'alluring' shots of the star's home country, Jamaica. Above is the coastal town of Ocho Rios, where some Bob Marley tours depart from

Jammin’: A new Bob Marley biopic features ‘alluring’ shots of the star’s home country, Jamaica. Above is the coastal town of Ocho Rios, where some Bob Marley tours depart from

Above, Kingsley Ben-Adir as Marley and Lashana Lynch (left) as his wife in Bob Marley: One Love

Above, Kingsley Ben-Adir as Marley and Lashana Lynch as his wife in Bob Marley: One Love

His eldest son, Ziggy, also a major reggae artist, says audiences can expect an exploration of ‘his pain, his sorrows, his joys and his redemption’.

With its alluring shots of Jamaica’s beaches, waterfalls and mountains, the film will undoubtedly encourage us to visit Marley’s charismatic homeland. The island has long been popular with UK travellers and is aiming to attract a record 250,000 of us annually by 2025.

Jamaica stretches for 146 miles with plenty to enjoy from spicy jerk dishes cooked on roadside barbecues to coffee plantation visits in the lofty Blue Mountains and sunset parties on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. But it’s Bob Marley who remains Jamaica’s most famous export. Here’s how to pay homage.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN…

In the village of Nine Mile, visitors can tour the two-room house in which Marley was raised (pictured)

In the village of Nine Mile, visitors can tour the two-room house in which Marley was raised (pictured)

The village of Nine Mile, a 90-minute drive east of Montego Bay, is where Bob Marley was born in 1945 and is a popular excursion from the resorts lining Jamaica’s north coast.

His parents were a 60-year-old white plantation overseer, Norval Marley, and 17-year-old Cedella Malcolm (they later married when she was 18) who moved to Kingston when her son was 12.

Tours of the shrine-like complex start with her home then move uphill to Mount Zion where there is a tiny Ethiopian Orthodox church and the rudimentary two-room house in which Marley was raised, plus a marbled mausoleum where Bob and Cedella are laid to rest. A five‑hour group tour from Ocho Rios costs from £93pp including lunch (islandroutes.com).

BOB MARLEY MUSEUM

Above, the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston

Above, the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston 

Number 56 Hope Road is a rambling 19th-century mansion in uptown Kingston where Bob Marley lived from 1973 surrounded by fellow musicians and Rastafarians. A highlight is the wood-lined studio where hits such as Buffalo Soldier were recorded, along with bullet holes left following an assassination attempt in 1976.

For the richest experience, book a combined tour that adds in the atmospheric Tuff Gong recording studios, a short drive away, where you can see rehearsal rooms and machines for pressing vinyl records (guided tours from £20, bobmarleymuseum.com).

STRAWBERRY HILL

Owned by Chris Blackwell, the Jamaican record producer who brought Bob Marley And The Wailers to the world’s attention, this wood-built luxury hotel sits at 3,100ft in the majestic Blue Mountains an hour’s drive north-east of Kingston.

Music fans can visit a Gold Room lined with awards given to Blackwell’s label, Island Records, which include several by Marley and his band.

Nestled in the Blue Mountains, the Strawberry Hill Hotel (pictured) is owned by Chris Blackwell, the record producer who shaped Marley's musical career

Nestled in the Blue Mountains, the Strawberry Hill Hotel (pictured) is owned by Chris Blackwell, the record producer who shaped Marley’s musical career

TRAVEL FACTS 

A nine-night Explore Jamaica group tour, which visits the Bob Marley Museum, costs from £2,179pp including accommodation, transport, activities and breakfast. Departures are available until April and from October, with flights extra (explore.co.uk).

British Airways flies from Gatwick to Kingston from £674 return (ba.com). For more information, see visitjamaica.com.

Guests stay in all-white cottages including one that refers to the star’s ‘Tuff Gong’ nickname. Double rooms from £438, B&B (strawberryhillhotel.com).

THE TEENAGE YEARS

Marley first visited the U.S aged 17 when his mother went to live in Wilmington, Delaware. He worked as a waiter, laboratory assistant and at the Chrysler car assembly factory in nearby Newark.

His time as a forklift truck driver is mentioned in the song Night Shift and the U.S city celebrates this link with an annual People’s Festival, which is now in its 30th year (August 31, peoplesfestival.com).

CLOSER TO HOME

Marley visited the UK several times in the 1970s and the One Love film includes scenes shot in London. An English Heritage blue plaque marks the singer’s home at 42 Oakley Street, Chelsea, where he lived while recording the album Exodus. Blue Badge tour guide Chris Van Hayden offers private tours of associated sites, from £288 for two hours (chrisvanhaydentours.uk).



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