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.
Bob Marley Aged Les Paul Special
The late Bob Marley brought reggae music to the world, and he did it on one of the most unlikely guitars — an early-70s Gibson Les Paul Special with some home-made customization. Gibson’s Custom, Art & Historic division has recreated Marley’s guitar down to every detail.
The original is from around 1972. The Les Paul Special doesn’t appear in Gibson records at that time, nor does it appear at any time with the small-block fingerboard inlay (although other Gibsons of the early 70s did feature this inlay). Among Marley’s alterations are the metal, orignal-shape pickguard and the football-shaped switchplate. He also bound the headstock with a thick plastic material that covered the entire sides of the headstock.
The Bob Marley Les Paul is an early 1970’s model Les Paul Special, and it’s worth more than ever.
The legend’s guitar is on display in Kingston, Jamaica, in the Bob Marley Museum.
Those of you who dream about that guitar are in luck, Epiphone has a replica of it that’s almost identical to the original, right down to the wear and tear…factory distressed, of course!
There is a Marley Les Paul Special made by Gibson, and a less expensive version put out by Epiphone.
It’s best to go to a local dealer with a large range to choose from and have the staff plug some in for you to have a play with. Try several to see which one you think works best for you. If necessary, stake out several shops to find your favourite guitar. Also, you can find an ideal guitar by checking out some of the online reviews by professional sites to see what’s getting the 5 stars.
Whatever guitar you pick (geddit?), make sure it’s your opinion, not someone else’s.
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