Veteran singer recalls ‘nice guy’ Bob Marley – Reminisces on 40th anniversary of legend’s death | Entertainment
The story of ska and rocksteady singer Dudley Sibley is closely intertwined with that of 13 Brentford Road (now Studio One Boulevard), the home of the famous recording studio owned by the legendary Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd.
It was at Studio One, in the early ’60s, that Sibley met a 16-year-old singer who would become his friend and who would go on to become the most successful reggae singer in history.
Most people know that singer as Bob Marley, but throughout the interview with THE STAR, Sibley affectionately referred to his friend simply as ‘Robbie’.
“So Tuesday (today) is really 40 years since Robbie pass? That’s a long time, plenty years that, but it don’t feel so long,” Sibley mused, taking a long pause and a deep breath before starting his reminiscing.
“I know Robbie from me was a little boy. Robbie was three years older than me, but we had a similar home situation that see us both ending up at government yard in Trench Town. Yes, the same place Robbie sing ’bout. And Robbie get a place to stay at the back of Coxsone, Brentford Road premises and I ended up there to,” Sibley recalled.
It was inevitable that with their similar interest in music and songwriting, the two would form a friendship.
“Robbie was a nice guy, very humble and not talkative. Him love to be by himself and play him guitar and write tune. Robbie was a talented guy and from me see how him put him things together, I know that he had it in him to be big. Me feel good when Robbie song dem start hit, because I always knew that there was something special about him. And him feel good for me when my song, Gun Man, come out and hit the British chart,” Sibley said.
Gun Man, which climbed to the top 10 of the British charts, has the distinction of being the first gun tune recorded in Jamaica. It was also banned from the airwaves.
Sibley recalls that Marley’s Simmer Down was a “helluva hit,” and he also recalled the burgeoning love affair with Marley and the only woman he ever wed, Rita.
When the opportunity come
“We used to pass Rita’s house, and that’s how Bob see her and dem get close. But yuh know, life funny in the way life funny,” Sibley said cryptically.
“When yuh down and have friends and oonu mek plans, when the opportunity come, the plans don’t usually work out as planned. I ended up going to South America and Europe and all those places, because I had other songs and my career took off. So me and Robbie never see each other much after him get big. I would really did like a chance to congratulate him on becoming that super, superstar that everybody in the world love. I didn’t see him for a long time, but when him dead, of course me did haffi go to Robbie funeral. It was sad,” Sibley said.
Marley, who was diagnosed with cancer, died on May 11, 1981. His fans around the world expressed their grief, and he received a state funeral in Jamaica. The greatest-hits album, Legend, was released in 1984, and became the best-selling reggae album of all time. Marley also ranks as one of the best-selling music artistes of all time, with estimated sales of more than 75 million records worldwide. He awarded the Order of Merit by Jamaica in 1981 and in 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artistes of All Time.