“On the Road With Bob Marley” by Mark Miller is a personal account and one man’s reflections on the three years he spent with the Caribbean’s first superstar. Through an easy read of chapters, Miller relates how as stage manager to reggae’s finest he found his way with Bob Marley & The Wailers through Europe, the USA and Africa. Although he cites the opinions of some of the closest and longest collaborators with the iconic reggae figure, Miller wanted to add his voice to the many already speaking volumes on a myriad of remembrances and as many fictional accounts claimed to be facts. Perhaps, the latter was his reason for sharing his unpretentious seemingly honest and humble story with readers.
From the very beginning of the 216-page book Miller makes clear that some of his memories might not be dead-on. Inhaling pure sensimilia he said could be attributed to gaps in his memory bank, however, the few instances he offers the disclaimer are few and pertains to whether he flew from point from one destination to the next gig or something less trivial.
Also, living in Cali during that era probably added psychedillic to his cerebrum.
However, throughout the published work none of his recollections detract from the heartfelt experiences he encountered as a white roadie travelling with more than a few Jamaican Rastafarians who doubled as musicians. As a matter of fact among the Buffalo soldiers, Miller considered himself “a white knight in Babylon.” Ironically, Miller was not really one of those weed-smoking, white, fanatical reggae fans who often attach themselves to musicians in order to share the adventure…and high. Miller did not even know what reggae was, sounded like or heard any of the songs folks are now claiming to be national anthems. Miller had no passion to visit Jamaica; grow locks or even sport the colors. According to his book, like a majority of California residents, he enjoyed music; lived a relatively comfortable existence and as a bonus worked with some of pop music’s best known recorders – Rod Stewart, Elton John etc. What he knew at the time too was that he was not exactly a fan of the dance group the Village People. Remember them? They scored massive hits with “YMCA,” “Macho Man,” “San Francisco,” and a host of other dance-happy discs.
When Miller’s boss asked him to work their show for a week in Seattle, his colleagues pulled rank and he lost out becoming the pawn to tout equipment up north where the most gay-friendly group of the era were booked to entertain their massive fan base wearing mock police, Indian chief, construction worker, soldier, biker, cowboy and other such outfits. As fate would have it, Miller’s loss became a gain when another request from his boss demanded he lug that same equipment to Vancouver where Marley & The wailers were due to satisfy the souls of reggaefarians yearning for a rare northern exposure. Again, Miller was not a happy camper. Imagine having to travel further north to sure-up another group unsuited to his musical palate. The difference this time though, was that Miller actually had no opinion of the immigrant, foreign music or the legend he would embrace and later pen an entire book to laud.
In the first chapter, Miller recounts that he pointed his truck towards Vancouver and there began his unforgettable three year residency with reggae’s best known band. The date was July 1978. And instead of returning to Los Angeles after the shows, at Marley’s invitation, Miller embarked on a world tour with the now world famous recording group.
Miller is more than kind to all of the characters he encountered then and is especially gratuitous to Marley, the man he obviously admired, respected and probably misses.
And if anyone questions why Miller took so long to tell his side of history, apparently he wasn’t really fussy, it was at the urging of his sons Matthew and Harrison that he journeyed into the past. Miller now resides in the south of France. He is not retired but now associated with quite a few reggae names including South Africa’s Nkulee Dube (Lucky’s daughter).
Nkulee Dube Productions, Turbulence, Warrior King, Lulu Dikana, Tosh Meets Marley, Don Carlos & Dub Vision, The Lucky Dube Celebration Tour, Roots Nation, The “Together As One” Tours.
Check out the insider’s perspective on being “On The Road with Bob Marley.”
It’s a good read. Get it by logging onto www.reggaefestivalguide.com
Catch You On The Inside!