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Ziggy Speaks Fondly of His Famous Father in ‘Marley’

1 Jun, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Much has been written and filmed about reggae legend Bob Marley, a striking, vibrant man who influenced the world with his revolutionary yet unifying music and message. Many of those prior works, however, were completed without involvement from Marley’s family.

Marley, due Aug. 7 (order date July 10) on Blu-ray ($29.98) and DVD ($26.98) from Magnolia Pictures, is the definitive documentary on the Jamaican musician, with interviews from his first-born son David “Ziggy” Marley, eldest daughter Cedella Marley and wife Rita Marley, among others who were closest to him.

“Throughout the years there have been a lot of things done about my father, and I’ve never been involved with any of them,” said Ziggy Marley, also an executive producer on the film. “To honor my father, being an integral part of this, I think he would appreciate that from me, as his first son. I wanted to honor him in that way, too.”

From time to time, Ziggy would hear about new projects focusing on his famous father. But those works are insignificant, he said, if they don’t involve the people who truly knew Marley, beyond what they’ve seen in archival footage, read in the press or heard on his albums.

“The only thing that mattered is that the thing that I’m involved with is the definitive thing,” Ziggy said. “I never looked at those things. … What do these people know about my father that I don’t know? … When I see somebody writing a book or making a film, who thought they know my father, but not really, I don’t give it any credit.”

Marley details the life of the icon, from his humble beginnings as a biracial child in a rural community in St. Ann, Jamaica, to his superstar status across the globe, to his death at the age of 36, caused by complications from melanoma.

It’s the in-betweens that matter most to the family members Marley left behind. Lessons learned while growing up surrounded by the Rastafarian culture, in which Marley was so richly involved, are the tenderest reminders of his dad, Ziggy said.

“We learn unity; we learn spirituality; we learn discipline; we learn about living natural; we learn about music,” he said. “All of these things were not only taught by my father, but taught by the culture that we grew up in. ... My father’s life teaches us about revolutionaries, really — having a desire to change or impact the society that we live in, to make it better for the oppressed people of whatever community we’re living in.”

Having been one of the kids who spent the most time with his father (he reportedly begot 11 children with many women), Ziggy said the things he learned about Marley’s adolescence during the making of the documentary came as a surprise to him.

“What I didn’t know about his color, his being mixed,” he said. “I didn’t know he got kind of ridiculed in his early years because of that in Kingston, and probably teased, as [his stepbrother] Bunny [Wailer] said, worse than teased. It was like, really? I was kind of angry at that.”

Robert Nesta Marley was so much more than his hit songs, a champion of the Rastafarian movement and a diamond from the rough streets of Trench Town. Ziggy hopes that in viewing Marley, people will see the emotional connection he shared with those whom knew him best.

“It’s much different when you … know somebody’s real-life story and what they’ve been through, not just through music or on stage, through their experiences in life,” Ziggy said. “[People] will see something different than what they’ve already seen about Bob, and just bring them close to him as somebody who’s a part of the human experience.”

Bonus material featured in Marley includes a commentary with Ziggy and director Kevin Macdonald; “Around the World,” a featurette with people speaking about Marley’s influence; an extended interview with Bunny Wailer; a “Children’s Memories” featurette with siblings Ziggy, Stephen and Cedella; “Listening to ‘I’m Loose,’” which showcases interviewees discussing their reactions to the song; a photo gallery; and a theatrical trailer.

“It was pretty cool doing the commentary on my side,” Ziggy said. “I spoke freely — the DVD’s going to be very interesting. I think probably even more interesting than the theatrical release. … It’s a pretty free commentary style. I’m pretty real, too.”

Perhaps a little too real, as Ziggy, when asked if the commentary afforded him the opportunity to articulate things he never had the chance to, responded, “Definitely. Some things I might regret, actually.”

Making sure Marley’s legacy lives on is something that comes naturally to Ziggy, who recognizes that his father made a lasting impression on people around the globe.

“I feel he is worth all the adoration, people adoring him and all of this,” he said. “... It’s legitimate because what he has done and what he means is real. I feel good about it. He’s worth that sort of respect and love that he gets.”

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About the Author: Ashley Ratcliff

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