The 30th anniversary of Bob Marley and the Wailers' final concert performance was celebrated at the same venue, the Benedum Center (formerly the Stanley Theater) in Pittsburgh, with a Marley family and friends concert.

The Bob Marley Live Forever Tribute Concert last night (Sept. 23) featured Bob's sons Stephen, Damian and Julian; his widow Rita alongside Marcia Griffiths, comprising two-thirds of Marley's backing vocalists the I-Threes; and his daughters Cedella and Sharon, singing and dancing as the Marley Girls, with Erica Newell and Simone Gordon.

Marley's Pittsburgh show, on Sept. 23, 1980, marked the unscheduled conclusion of the tour supporting "Uprising," the final studio album released by Island Records during his lifetime. That concert took place just two days after Marley collapsed while jogging in New York City's Central Park (following two sold out nights at Madison Square Garden).

Eight months later, on May 11, 1981, Marley would succumb to the cancer that was initially diagnosed in his big toe in 1977.

A double CD set of Marley's 1980 Pittsburgh concert "Bob Marley Live Forever" will be released by Tuff Gong/Universal in December.

Presented by the Marley Family's charity arm 1Love.org and sponsored by Marley Beverages, which recently expanded the Marley brand with a line of relaxation drinks called Marley's Mellow Mood, the Live Forever concert was announced just three weeks ago. Yet it pulled a capacity crowd to the 2,800-seat Benedum Theater last night (Sept. 23), representing a broad swathe of ages and ethnicities, much like the audience Marley attracted in his lifetime.

The artists' adhered to Marley's 1980 set list, delivering faithful renditions of his career spanning classics, highlighted by Julian's confident lead on "Rasta Man Vibration" and Stephen's poignant rendition of "No Woman No Cry"; he placed his arm around Rita's shoulder as he sang, something Marley often did while performing this heartrending tune.

Damian's free styled Jamaican patois-chanted verses, meanwhile, put a contemporary dancehall reggae stamp on "Exodus" and "War," while eliciting a thunderous response from all ages.

"Nothing could be more important to us, no matter what individual projects we have going on, than being here tonight," Stephen said. "We do shows like this to keep our father's legacy alive and to continue his work."

The Live Forever concert was the brainchild of Ed Traversari who assisted with the marketing of Marley's 1980 show. He worked alongside promoters Pat DiCesare and Rich Engler of DiCesare-Engler Productions for that event 30 years ago.

Traversari initiated conversations with the Marleys and they wholeheartedly supported his anniversary concert concept. "At different points in time we had wanted to do an anniversary show with the family but when the 30th year approached, we said its now or never, and it came together beautifully," Traversari told Billboard.biz following the concert.

"Ever since this show was announced, there was disbelief that it would really happen because it is a once in a lifetime occurrence," added Rich Engler, "and the crowd here tonight reflects the timelessness of Marley's appeal." Engler assisted on the promotion for last night's show.

1Love.org will donate the proceeds from the Live Forever Concert to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); Charity: Water, a non profit organization bringing clean drinking water to people in developing nations, and the African Leadership Academy, a South Africa based nonprofit learning institution that grooms teenagers throughout the continent for future leadership and entrepreneurial roles.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print