Inside horrific assassination attempt on Bob Marley as gunmen raided his home

Bob Marley's life is one filled with countless crazy tales as the reggae musician took on the role of also being a human rights activist.

During his life, he became known as a Rastafari icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality before his untimely death at the age of 36.

To this day he remains one of the world's most beloved and famous stars to advocate for the rights of black people, speaking against poverty and fighting against western oppression.

However, not everybody adored Bob. Many wanted him dead and on December 3, 1976, he was nearly killed.

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On that date, Bob was two days away from performing a free non-political stage concert called Smile Jamaica to help quell recent violence in Jamaica.

During the mid 70s the country's political tensions were rising and by the middle of that decade, Kingston had began to resemble a war zone.

Guns flooded the island, supermarkets were running low on stock and power-cuts were very frequent for its citizens.

There were also no-go zones everywhere which were patrolled by savage and brutal soldiers who operated under their own twisted law.

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This was down to Jamaica's long-lived political conflict which is a feud between right-wing and left-wing elements in the country, often exploding into violence.

The Jamaican Labour Party and the People's National Party have fought for control of the island for years and the rivalry has encouraged urban warfare in Kingston as a result.

Therefore, Bob Marley planned a free concert to take part to lift people's spirits and give them a free afternoon of his hit songs on his native island.

Politicians from across the political spectrum at the time hoped to capitalise on Marley's support.

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However, Marley remained neutral, which angered many who viewed him as tacitly supporting the prime minister at the time who was Michael Manley and his democratic socialist People's National Party.

Due to this, and the extreme violence at the time, Marley became a target.

Then on December 3, in 1976 at around 8.30pm, seven men armed with guns ambushed Marley's home and attempted to assassinate him just two days before the concert.

Marley and three others at his home including his wife were shot but amazingly there was no fatalities – other than the fact the seven criminals were caught, tried and executed.

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The men raided his home at 56 Hope Road with the intention to kill Marley and anyone in the property as they released bullets at the star.

At the time, Marley was home with his wife Rita who was in the driveway when the crooks arrived.

Rita was shot in the head on the driveway but lived to tell the tale.

Marley was shot in the chest and his arm, while his manager, Don Taylor, was shot in the legs and torso.

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The star's band employee, Louis Griffiths also took a bullet to his torso and lived.

Marley claimed to concert chairman Trevor Philips that the leader of the Jamaican Labour Party Edward Seaga was alleged to have ordered his bodyguard, Lester "Jim Brown" Coke, to be present during the shooting.

Shortly after the incident, the American embassy sent a cable titled "Reggae Star Shot: Motive probably political".

In the cable, Ambassador Gerard wrote: "Some see the incident as an attempt by JLP gunmen to halt the concert, which would feature the 'politically progressive' music of Marley and other reggae stars."

He continued: "Others see it as a deep-laid plot to create a progressive, youthful Jamaican martyr to the benefit of the PNP.

"Those holding the latter view note that the four persons shot, three of them including Marley, only suffered minor wounds."

Author of Catch a Fire, Timothy White, claimed that information he received from JLP and PNP officials as well as US law enforcement officials led him to believe that Carl Byah "Mitchell", a JLP gunman, was contracted by the CIA to organise the Marley shooting and that Lester Coke, aka Jim Brown, led the charge on Hope Road.

Don Taylor, Marley's manager, claimed that both he and Marley were present at a court in which the gunmen who shot them were tried and executed.

According to Taylor, before one of the shooters was killed, he claimed the job was done for the CIA in exchange for cocaine and guns.

In true Marley style, he still held his concert despite his injuries.

  • Tributes

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