By Peter Larsen, The Orange County Register
Cedella Marley stood at the entrance of the Bob Marley One Love Experience, an interactive exhibit devoted to the life and legacy of her father, a few days before it opened on Jan. 27 for a 12-week run in the heart of Hollywood.
It’s not the first time she’s seen the exhibit, which debuted in London a year ago before moving to Toronto. But she said it still feels good to share her father’s legacy in a new way.
“I think as we walk through you’re going to see Bob in all kinds of different ways,” says Marley, 55, the eldest of Bob Marley’s children with Rita Marley, and the CEO of the Bob Marley Group of Companies. “You’re going to see Bob the artist, of course. Bob the father, Bob the husband, Bob the marijuana connoisseur. And of course, Bob the musician.
“It’s almost like you’re in Hope Road without being in Hope Road,” Marley says, referencing Bob Marley’s former home in Kingston, Jamaica, which now, nearly 42 years after his death in 1981, is a museum. “That’s what 56 Hope Road is like, the home of Bob. This is like Bob’s home away from home.”
And with that, Marley invited a reporter and photographer to walk with her through the Los Angeles exhibit, located in Ovation, the complex formerly known as Hollywood & Highland, before it opened.
The Music Room
After an entryway that features a pair of selfie stops — a rainbow heart of peace signs, a pair of angel wings made of Bob Marley magazine covers, concert posters and set lists — the exhibit’s first large space focuses on the music Marley made before his death at 38.
Album covers adorn one wall. Gold records — as well as platinum and diamond ones representative of album sales — cover another. In the centre of the room a massive red, yellow and green vinyl reproduction of Legend, the classic Marley compilation towers over the tallest of visitors.
Cedella Marley says she doesn’t have a favourite album by her father, but there’s one single that’s always been closest to her heart.
“I have a favourite single,” she says. “It’s called Nice Time and that was the one he wrote for me when I was born. I think it was one of those Bob Marley and the Wailers albums, like back in the day, with Bunny (Wailer) and Peter (Tosh).”
One corner of the Music Room features items from the Bob Marley collection at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, including the Rock Hall trophy from his posthumous induction in 1994, photographs, a tour itinerary, and the handwritten lyrics to Turn Your Lights Down Low.
Cedella Marley, like many of Bob Marley’s children and grandchildren, is a musician in her own right, perhaps most prominently as part of the Melody Makers, the group fronted by her brother Ziggy Marley that also included her brother Stephen Marley and sister Sharon Marley. (The exhibit’s Next Gen Zone features the musical achievements of the entire Marley family.)
Just 13 when her father died, she says as a child she almost took his music for granted.
“I was more of a Michael Jackson fan,” she says, laughing. “I remember one time when the Jacksons came to Jamaica and performed. I don’t know if my dad opened for them or vice versa, but I was just so excited to see the Jackson 5.
“I mean, my dad performing was nice, but it’s like he did that at home, too.”
One Love Forest
The exhibit in Los Angeles is larger than both Toronto and London — nearly 16,000 square feet here to 12,000 square feet in the earlier stops. The One Love Forest, a 2,000-square-foot tropical jungle inspired by Fern Gully in Jamaica, is larger here too.
“This is my favorite spot,” Marley says. “The One Love Forest is a place where I feel like you can just come together, connect, you know, have conversations. Listen to some music. Chill out.”
It’s dimly lit to evoke the deepest, darkest greens of a jungle, with beanbag chairs scattered here and there, and a swing fixed to a branch in one corner. Off to the side is a separate room, a cannabis garden features a massive fake joint, its orange tip aglow, on a stand above a plot of realistic but fake marijuana plants.
“This called the One Draw Garden — you know my mom’s (singer Rita Marley) song One Draw,” she says. “You can chill out on the bean bags, relax, meditate.”
Soul Shakedown Studio
Marley music plays in every part of the exhibit, but the Soul Shakedown Studio, named after the Wailers’ song Soul Shakedown Party, presents it via headphones in a silent disco.
The two rooms here include video monitors of Marley and the Wailers in live performance, including one room that features a set by Marley and the Wailers recorded live at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood in 1973.
Asked why she thinks her father’s music resonated so strongly with listeners both during his life and for decades after Marley says it’s simple.
“I think it was his honesty in his music,” she says. “He was really asking for things that we all want out of life. Simple things. Like peace, you know, loving one another, trying to get along with each other no matter the colour of our skin or our religion.
“Those are things that I think resonate with everyone,” Marley says. “I think we all want that. And it wasn’t like he was saying he can solely do it. He was asking for all of us to be a part of that. It was all our responsibilities to make that happen.
“And when you listen to Redemption Song, I think it all brings a closure to it. Because all he ever had was his music, and that was his unifier.”
Arts and leisure
The exhibit also includes artwork inspired by Bob Marley and his iconic visage, his face framed by the dreadlocks he favoured.
Much of it was created specially for the show by street artists including Mr. Brainwash, the French artist featured in the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, the British art duo known as The Postman, and the Los Angeles design studio called CAMO.
Another room focuses on Bob Marley’s passions outside of music — soccer, foosball and ping-pong among them. A vintage jukebox stocked with old 45s of Marley music sits against one wall waiting for visitors to punch in their selections of classic Marley music.
Nearby a pair of size 8.5 athletic shoes worn by Marley, dirt from the soccer field still on the soles, glow inside a plexiglass box like holy icons.
“When they asked, ‘Cedella, do you have anything?’ I was like, ‘Mmmm,’” Marley says of the shoes, which were part of her personal collection. “I really didn’t want to part with them.
“But it meant something to have it here, so it’s here.”
BOB MARLEY ONE LOVE EXPERIENCE
When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday
Where: Second floor, near the entrance to the Dolby Theatre, at Ovation Hollywood, formerly known as Hollywood & Highland.
Cost: General admission tickets are $40, with premium and VIP tickets $50 and $75 respectively. Children, student and military tickets are $25.
Info: For more details on the exhibit, available time slots to visit and more go to Bobmarleyexp.com/los-angeles
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