London - A blue plaque was unveiled last week on a handsome house in Chelsea, in the respectable-looking street where an icon of Edwardian stoicism and valour, Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, once lived.
The new plaque offers not a hint of attempted murder, adultery, rape, drug-taking on an industrial scale and a fatal show of misplaced pride. All it says is "Bob Marley 1945-1981, Singer and Songwriter, lived here in 1977".
In a way, that’s all it needs to say. Most people know that the reggae legend, neck-and-neck with Usain Bolt as the most famous Jamaican of all time, crammed an awful lot of life into his 36 years. Yet there are a thousand stories behind that English Heritage plaque, many of which involve sex, drugs and wild, decadent excess.
Oddly enough, those that don’t are even more fascinating. Marley had moved to London because he was in mortal danger on his native island.
Although he preached reconciliation and love, and tried boldly to unite Jamaica’s warring factions, in December 1976 gunmen burst into his Kingston home and attempted to murder him, quite possibly on the orders of the CIA, who wanted to destabilise a country they feared was becoming another Cuba under its socialist leader, Michael Manley.