When he first arrived in London in 1972, Bob Marley dossed down at a rented pad in Camden. Yesterday, 25 years after the reggae legend's death, a blue plaque was mounted at 34 Ridgmount Gardens, where the Jamaican-born star spent six weeks. It is the first to be erected in his memory.
Friends and fans gathered outside the peaceful terraced building in Bloomsbury to pay tribute to the star. The plaque, which describes Marley as a "singer, lyricist and Rastafarian icon" was unveiled as part of Black History Month.
It marks the end of a two-year campaign by the Nubian Jak Community Trust, in partnership with the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, as part of a series of events marking the contribution of African-Caribbean communities to the capital.
Marley's widow Rita, who was not present at the unveiling, sent a message saying: "My husband's music is loved all around the world, although he had a special affinity with London. The family is pleased that he is being honoured with a commemorative plaque in London and we truly look forward to seeing it the next time we are in London. Jah bless you all. One love."
Mr Livingstone said: "Like many people, I have appreciated and admired the work of Bob Marley for decades. He was quite simply a musical genius, and he remains a much-loved international, iconic reggae artist. I am proud that we will now have a plaque in his honour in London, officially marking the remarkable achievements of this hugely talented man."
Jak Beula-Dodd, the chief executive of Nubian Jak, said that he had already asked permission to install a similar plague at three other locations where Marley was believed to have lived, but had been unsuccessful.
These include a Chelsea address, where Marley was said to have lived while he was in exile in 1977 following an assassination attempt; an address in Mayfair, where Marley is believed to have lived towards the end of his life, and 12a Queensborough Terrace, where his band the Wailers allegedly stayed for a few weeks.
Part of the problem is that much of Marley's history is made up of myths and half-truths. According to Marley's biographer, Roger Steffens: "There's so much misinformation out there that gets repeated over and over."
It is also claimed that when the reggae star visited London during the mid-Seventies, he lived at the famous Rastafarian squat in St Agnes Place - which has since been demolished.
Another popular myth is that each time he stayed in London, he fathered a child. The most enduring, however, is that he hurt his toe playing football with Danny Baker in London which, because Marley was unwilling to have it amputated, perhaps because of his religious beliefs, was left untreated and developed into a fatal cancer which spread to the rest of his body.
Mr Steffens said that Marley's toe was injured when a French music writer stepped on it during a football match, and the injury occurred in Paris.
Marley died in Miami on 11 May 1981, after becoming ill on a flight home from Germany to Jamaica. His final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can't buy life". But Mr Buela-Dodd believes "Bob's spirit" is in London.
At the unveiling of the plaque, school children from Paddington Green primary school read aloud extracts on Marley's history, his influences and humanitarian work. Secondary school students from St Martin's in the Field sang Redemption Song.
Sharon Saunders, the acting high commissioner for Jamaica, also attended the unveiling.Reuse content