Throwback Thursdays: When Bob Marley Met Stevie Wonder

Words by Jesse Serwer

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Image Courtesy: BobMarleyConcerts.com

As part of our ongoing celebration of the 70th birthday of Robert Nesta Marley, each Thursday through the month of February, we’ll be sharing and highlighting different media from the late Legend’s career.

Last week, we told you about one of Bob Marley’s most notable concerts—the time he and the Wailers opened for Marvin Gaye, in what would be their last shows before the dissolution of the original trio of Bob, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, in 1974. This week, we turn our attention to an equally notable performance in Kingston, with yet another soul legend: Stevie Wonder.

Just over one year after playing with Marvin (at the Carib Theatre and Jamaica’s National Stadium) Bob, Bunny and Peter returned to the National Stadium for an October 1975 event that would officially be dubbed “The Wonder Dream Concert,” and, unofficially, the Wailers Reunion Show. Performing together for the last time, Bob, Peter and Bunny each performed solo material as well as Wailers tracks including the ska-era classic, “Simmer Down.”

Of course, the draw was the meeting of Bob + Stevie, two of the greatest musical visionaries of modern times. Different from the Marvin shows, The Wonder Dream Concert would feature a collaborative effort between the two music greats, as they jammed with one another on “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Superstition.”

Surprisingly, considering the extent of Marley footage that is available online, we couldn’t track down any video footage of the event. However, here is an hour-plus clip kindly uploaded to Mixcloud by Dubwise Garage.

For those of you without an hour to spare looking for quick thrills, head right to the end of the performance for a heavily jammed-out version of “Superstition,” featuring a spacey synthesizer and some great chat from MC (who hypes Stevie as the “$13 Million Dollar Man” Stevie Wonder and ends things with a “Peace, love and courage and shalom!”)

This wouldn’t be the only time the two would perform together—Stevie joined Bob for the encore of his performance at the Black Music Association concert in Philadelphia in 1979. And Stevie’s relationship with Jamaica and Bob’s music continued after the latter’s passing. The year 1982 saw him pay homage to Bob and his music with the track “Master Blaster (Jammin’). Here, he performs “Master Blaster” at a tribute event attended by the Beach Boys, and Billy Preston, among others.

The same year would see Stevie return to Jamaica for Reggae Sunsplash, and to collaborate with Third World — the opening acts from the Wonder Dream Concert (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes were scheduled to perform, but missed the show) — whose “Try Jah Love” and “You’re Playing It Too Close” he produced. Watch a clip of Stevie in the studio with Third World here.

The blog Midnight Raver, a great source for all things Bob Marley, has some great finds from the Wonder Dream Concert, including these original advertisements for the show, from Jamaican newspapers:

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