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The Bob Marley Story’

In response to:

The Bob Marley Story from the April 9, 2009 issue

To the Editors :

My thanks to those Bob Marley fans who wrote in to respond to my piece on his life [ NYR, April 9]. I’m grateful to those who pointed out that the “One Love Peace Concert” took place in April 1978, not 1980, and that Marley performed at the 1976 “Smile Jamaica” concert having been shot in his left arm, not his right. I regret the errors.

Marley, as I wrote in my piece, has attracted a quasi-religious devotion from millions. I have heard from many of them. Some of these have devoted considerable energy to the minutiae of his life. We can be grateful for such fruits of their devotion as Bob Marley and the Wailers: The Definitive Discography coauthored by Leroy Jodie Pierson and Roger Steffens, whose detailed letter I particularly enjoyed. In truth, though, arguing over ephemera with devotees is a parlor game with no end. For this reason I will leave it to others to debate when Marley first claimed the mantle of Joseph, or when he first prophesied his own death. A life so rich in incident and, thirty years after his death, so productive of myth will never really end. Marley—as one poet famously said of another—has become his admirers.

Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
Berkeley, California

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