Marley Tribute wasn't meant to Stir it Up? Image

by Biko Kennedy

As criticisms of the Bob Marley tribute number at the 55th Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 10th, at Staples Centre flew left, right and centre, countless Reggae fans and music critics questioned, is that it?

A tribute is a tribute…sure, but only one song out of Bob's arsenal of hits?

If you're anything like me; I sat there twiddling my thumbs awaiting the tribute. Performances passed within the blink of an eye and the host, LL Cool J, kept me hyped for the moment saying things like "A once in a lifetime performance" and "a star studded tribute". So of course I was like "don't mind if I do". Just to see a two and a half minute of a tribute being done. Yes, the tribute conjured up the inimitable Marley mega-magic, with the entire Staples Centre audience on its feet but myself and everyone else couldn't help but see that it seem more of a Bruno Mars performance with an additional nod to Bob Marley being performed.

Though many Jamaicans lauded the effort of the Grammys to acknowledge Bob, many took to social media to voice their feelings about the seemingly downscaled tribute.

Some said "Tribute was a weak effort! Could have been a lot better! Just because you had two Marley's doesn't mean it's a tribute!" while others thought "Definitely not long enough for such a great man, who spread reggae around the entire world."

Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley, a three-time Grammy winner and the youngest son of the late Bob Marley, told The Hollywood Reporter that "It's not often that reggae entertainers are invited to events like this, so I'm just thankful that Bruno and the crew invited us to be there. I think it was great. As a child of reggae music, we always like to see when reggae is put upon a pedestal and of course the Grammys is one of the highest pedestals in the world, so we are glad to be a part of that."

But having done further research it turns out that the tribute wasn't meant to highlight Bob as much as it was to get a performance from Bruno Mars.

The back story, from long-time Grammy show executive producer Ken Ehrlich, according to the Los Angeles Times, is that the tribute grew out of the wish to lure Bruno Mars back to perform at the Grammy's this year.

Mars had originally communicated his intention to sit out this year's Grammy show at a rehearsal last week, with the aim of "owning" next year's show, Ehrlich explains.

Ehrlich said to himself: 'If I came up with a concept he liked, would he consider it?" To which Mars apparently responded he would. Ehrlich then contacted representatives for Sting and Rihanna about having them be part of a Marley tribute on the show, knowing each artist held a fondness for Reggae music in general and Marley's music in particular. That led to invitations to Marley scions, Ziggy and Damian, and a blessing from Marley's wife, Rita, all of whom approved.

"At that point I went back to Bruno and said, 'Here's what I've got — are you interested?" Thus Sunday's mash-up of Mars' 'Locked Out of Heaven,' Sting's Police-era number 'Walking on the Moon' and Marley's Could You Be Loved, a track from the final album released before Marley died, Uprising," further stated Ehrlich.
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