They buried on 21 May 1981 at Nine Mile, the village where, 36 years earlier, he had been born. His heavy bronze coffin was carried to the top of the highest hill in the village and placed in a temporary mausoleum painted in the colours of red, green and gold. Alongside Marley’s embalmed corpse, the casket contained his red Gibson Les Paul guitar, a Bible opened at Psalm 23, and a stalk of ganja placed there by his widow, Rita, at the end of the funeral ceremony earlier in the day.
On the night of his death, on 11 May, I had gone to the Island Records studios in an old church in Notting Hill, west London, where Aswad had been cutting tracks in the very basement studio where Bob had completed Catch A Fire, his breakthrough album, nine years earlier. But it was long after midnight, and the musicians had gone home after watching the tributes to the dead man hurriedly assembled by the British TV networks. The only people left were a caretaker and one of Aswad’s roadcrew, both Jamaicans.
“A sad day,” I said, unable to think of anything more profound or perceptive.