Fund-raising to pay for a blue plaque to commemorate Bob Marley and the Wailers’ final ever live performance in London, at the Crystal Palace Bowl, was more than halfway to its target within hours of being launched this morning – thanks to a generous donation from the reggae superstar’s label.
June 7 marked 40 years since Marley played the park on the Uprising Tour. The Summer of 80 Garden Party Festival was by then a well-established annual event, staged around the lakeside bowl in the park. The launch of the appeal for a Marley plaque is the latest step towards re-establishing the Crystal Palace Bowl as regular venue for outdoor concerts.
In 1980, Marley and his band performed a 14-song set which concluded with “Redemption Song”. Marley was already gravely ill – he would die of cancer in May 1981 – and the concert at Crystal Palace marked his last ever live gig in London.
This plaque project is being developed by Friends of Crystal Palace Park in partnership with the Nubian Jak Community Trust, who work to highlight the historic contributions of Black and minority ethnic people to British culture. There are at least two other Marley blue plaques elsewhere in the capital, where he either lived or performed.
The plaque appeal is supported by Bromley Council and got a hefty step towards the £2,682 target total when Island Records donated £1,350 this morning.
Organisers say: “To celebrate this significant anniversary, a unique and appropriate commemorative blue plaque has been designed to be sited close to the open-air stage in the Crystal Palace Park.
“The plaque will adopt the traditional heritage blue design but be ringed with the iconic Ethiopian/pan-African /Reggae colours of red, yellow and green.”
The hope is to unveil the plaque in October, as a Black History Month event.
Organisers are asking for anyone who was there in 1980 to share their memories, recollections, photos, bootlegs and fan footage of the show for a forthcoming documentary on Marley’s legacy and the concert at Crystal Palace Bowl. You can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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