Bob Marley and the Wailers live at the Apollo Theatre, Harlem in 1979 (full concert audio)

Bob Marley & The Wailers Live At The Apollo Theater, Harlem, New York, October 28, 1979.

Over four days in late October 1979, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed seven shows at the legendary Apollo Theater, marking the first-ever reggae performances at the newly reopened Harlem venue.

The shows, beginning Oct. 25 and ending Oct. 28, would add to the Apollo’s rich history and connect Marley to the former home of fellow Jamaican, Marcus Garvey.

The shows at the Apollo were the third leg of his Survival Tour, which kicked off Oct. 21 in Boston at Harvard Stadium with Stevie Wonder.

A day later, Marley and The Wailers would perform at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Survival is still one of Marley’s most politically charged albums, featuring the anthems “Africa Unite” and “Zimbabwe”, the latter celebrating the fall of white supremacist rule in Rhodesia.

A mixed audience of African Americans, Caribbeans and whites was reported by Clinton Lindsay, a Jamaican student at the New York Institute of Technology. While covering broadcasts for the college newspaper, Scope, he noted.

Part of the reason Marley sought to perform in Harlem was due to Harlemite Marcus Garvey’s connection to the neighborhood. Garvey was a Jamaican-born writer and lecturer in the early 20th century who encouraged the Pan-African movement, emphasizing unity between African Americans and their ancestral lands.

Garvey would inspire Rastafarians who advocate Pan-Africanism. Marley would perform at the Apollo with three backgrounds: one with the Ethiopian flag, one with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, revered by Rastafarians, and one with Garvey, Selassie and fighters from the guerrillas.

Listen to the full concert (59 minutes) below:

The Apollo residency lineup included Bob Marley on vocals and rhythm guitar, Aston Barrett (bass), Carlton Barrett (drums), Junior Marvin (lead guitar), Al Anderson (lead guitar), Tyrone Downie (keyboards), Earl “Wya” Lindo (organ), Alvin “Seeco” Patterson (percussion), Devon Evans (percussion), Glen DaCosta (saxophone), Dave Madden (trumpet) and The I-Threes (backing vocals).

Opening the shows was Betty Wright, known for “Clean up Woman” and “Tonight is the Night”, singing with a range from disco to soulful.

As The Times felt Marley was less energetic, he began to use his stage presence to preach and inspire, with a passionate voice and an audience that quickly warmed up and returned his energy to the stage.

These landmark performances would be among Marley’s last shows in New York, returning the next September to open for The Commodores at Madison Square Garden in September 1980; it would be one of Marley’s last performances.

On September 21, 1980, Marley would collapse while jogging in Central Park, possibly due to malignant melanoma cancer which he had been diagnosed with three years previously. He will perform once more, at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, before losing his battle with cancer at age 36.

Natural Mystic, Them Belly Full (But We Hungry), I Shot the Sheriff, Concrete Jungle, Ambush in the Night, Ride Natty Ride, Running Away, Crazy Baldhead, Wake Up and Live, One Drop, No Woman, No Cry, Jamming , So Much Trouble in the World, Zimbabwe, Africa Unite, War, No More Trouble and more, reports NYS Music.


There was only one love! Tribute to Bob Marley! celebration of Bob Marley and Bob Marley’s 35th Birthday performing at the Apollo Theater on April 29, 2015 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.

Photo credit: 1) Source. 2) Source. 3) Origin.

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