Black History Month: Bob Marley house honoured with blue plaque

Bob Marley
Image caption,This plaque is Marley’s first from English Heritage.

Reggae legend Bob Marley has been honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque at the London house he lived at when he finished recording the ground-breaking album Exodus.

The plaque marks where Marley lived with his band the Wailers in 1977 at 42 Oakley Street, in Chelsea.

It comes after a drive to uncover more addresses of ethnic minority figures.

Marley and the Wailers’ famous Exodus album included hits such as Jamming, Three Little Birds and One Love.

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah unveils an English Heritage blue plaque for Bob Marley,
Image caption,Benjamin Zephaniah said Marley’s music “came from a small island in the Caribbean and shook up the world”

The plaque had been stuck in the planning process because Marley was not registered in phone directories or electoral registers.

Marley also gave a different address during an arrest for cannabis possession in 1977 to prevent the police from searching the house in Oakley Street for drugs.

English Heritage confirmed the house was the band’s headquarters and Marley’s primary address from contemporary reports.

In 2015 English Heritage, which manages more than 400 historic buildings and cultural sites across the country, established a working group to reinvestigate the addresses of noted ethnic minority figures.

Out of more than 900 blue plaques across London, only 4% are dedicated to black and Asian individuals.

Bob Marley's performing his album Exodus
Image caption,While in London Bob Marley finished recording Exodus, which featured hits such as Jamming, Three Little Birds and One Love

Blue plaques commemorate the link between a location and an individual who was regarded as “eminent” in their field.

Their achievements should have made an “exceptional impact in terms of public recognition”, and they must have been dead for at least 20 years.

Other musicians to have received the honour include John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and Mozart.

Rastafarian writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah unveiled the plaque on Tuesday.

Mr Zephaniah, said: “It’s very difficult to say what Bob Marley would have said about this plaque, but he did once say, ‘Live for yourself, you will live in vain, live for others, and you will live again’, so I’m quite sure he would say that this is for his people and his music.”

Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga said: “More than a brilliant musician, he became a cultural icon who blazed a trail for other black artists.”

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