Music documentary

Who shot the sheriff? : The Bob Marley Netflix Music Documentary Series

Despite all the scholarship that exists in pop history, many mysteries remain: who killed Jam Master Jay; what happened precisely on the night of Sam Cooke’s death; and what exactly was the relationship between Johnny Cash and Richard Nixon? New to Netflix Remastered docuseries seeks to investigate these and other stories in the coming months, starting with its first entry, Who shot the sheriff?, a review of the events leading up to – and following – Bob Marley’s assassination attempt in 1976. Here, a few things we gleaned from the hour-long documentary, directed by Kief Davidson, who previously made The ivory game, about activists trying to avoid the ivory trade in Africa.

Even in Kanye-Trump’s day, Marley was a political pawn in a way most contemporary musicians probably can’t even imagine.
Before the attempt on his life, Marley was caught between two rival factions in his homeland: the progressive-socialist PNP (People’s National Party) of Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley and the conservative Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) led by Edward Seaga. Both wanted to brag about Marley’s fame and reputation for helping the poor and disenfranchised. (“Trenchtown Rock” evokes Marley’s struggle to remain neutral in this atmosphere.) After Marley unveiled plans for a benefit concert in December 1976 for Jamaica, Manley announced that the government would hold an election shortly. after the show, making it look like Marley was in cahoots with Manley. In the documentary, friends recall thugs showing up at Marley’s home trying to convince him to cancel the show, which only added to Marley’s stress and distrust of politicians.

After more than four decades, we still don’t really know who tried to kill Marley and why.
On the night of December 3, 1976, gunmen broke into Marley’s normally secure Kingston home, injuring Marley, his wife Rita, his manager Don Taylor, and others. The motivation behind the failed shot – which nearly killed Taylor, who took most of the bullets aimed at Marley – remains a mystery. It could have been related to Marley’s friend Skill Cole, a Jamaican football player who was in charge of unsavory characters; Marley was helping Cole pay off his debt and, according to the doc, may have missed a payment. The PNP, while openly supporting Marley, was also seen as a culprit: The PNP security guards who were protecting Marley at his home mysteriously disappeared that night, and Marley’s associates wonder if the motive was to blame it. on the opposing JLP. Later, Marley spotted a local gangster, Jim Brown, and told a friend that Brown was at his house the night of the shooting. But Marley never reported anyone and called the incident “one of those things.”

The CIA was watching Marley.
The US government was stalking many pop musicians in the 1960s, but their concern for Marley was palpable. Marley had a CIA file (complete with now redacted documents shown in the film) and was called “subversive.” The CIA was particularly concerned about the growing relationship between Manley and Fidel Castro, and feared Jamaica would follow Cuba into communism. Who shot the sheriff? wonders if Marley’s murder was an attempt by the CIA – which allegedly supplied the JLP with weapons – to destabilize Jamaica and make Manley look bad. A JLP insider (whose face is obscured and voice distorted) claims Seaga was aware of the plan through intermediaries, but when asked about it in the doc, Seaga pauses and replies, “I didn’t. never spoke with the CIA, man. I really do not know. Even more fortuitous: Carl Colby, the filmmaker hired to document Marley’s Advantage in 1976, was the son of CIA chief William Colby (but spoke to the Marley gang about it at the time).

As much as his enduring music, the One Love Peace concert in 1978 demonstrated Marley’s power..
Despite his injuries, including a gunshot to the arm, Marley attended the originally planned benefit concert in 1976, two days after the attack. But he left Jamaica the next morning for a year and a half of touring and living in London. (“He liked the fact that the police weren’t carrying guns,” reporter Vivien Goldman, a friend of Marley’s, says in the doc.) In light of a truce from the warring gangsters, Marley was convinced to return home for a concert that would celebrate the new unity (albeit ultimately short-lived) of the country.

Held at Kingston National Stadium in April 1978, One Peace Love was preceded by newspaper headlines proclaiming Marley’s return. (News of an earthquake that hit the country on the same day has been relegated to a much smaller headline.) During the show, Marley demonstrated a wilder, more shamanic stage presence, the result of his international tour. , and brought warring gang members onto the stage – and even Manley and Seaga, who shook hands and posed with Marley. Security was provided by the locals, but without Altamont tragedy.

The peace did not last and Seaga would be elected Prime Minister two years later, but One Peace Love is almost unparalleled in demonstrating the power of music to heal a country and a society. It’s a shame Marley isn’t here to recreate this spectacle now, in this country.