TRUTH & JEST: Marley and Cole in happy times, circa 1970.
Allan ‘Skill’ Cole proved an engaging, profound storyteller as he gave a spirited 2013 Bob Marley Lecture (“Bob Marley: The Man That I Know”) at UWI Mona on Thursday evening, offering the audience nothing short of revealing insight and some wonderful stream-of-consciousness memories.
Taking us back to the early sixties and late seventies, Cole (a former manager, confidant and friend of the late reggae superstar) fondly recalled richly entertaining experiences that helped to explain why, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Bob Marley was destined to become a champion of the downtrodden and a globally recognized musician and revolutionary. But also who the man was outside the glare of the public spotlight.
“When you read my little book that I’m working on, you will be amazed at some of the things that unfold in it,” Cole said of his forthcoming tome, due out later this year. “It’s a little insight on what the Bob Marley that I knew was all about, and I think it’s going to be very interesting.” Below, excerpts from Cole’s free-wheelin’, hour-long talk:
What Bob was like as a teen: He was a very quiet, unassuming young man. Very shy-looking individual. We met at a football match when I was about 14.
His incredible work ethic: Bob was someone you would call a workaholic. This man would work in the studios for long hours. He would write and work on songs till way into the early morning. It was unbelievable and he was a perfectionist. If there was one dot that needed to be taken care of, it had to be taken care of. And one of the things I also loved about him, he was very disciplined and focused. Sound-check, he was there before everybody. It’s like he was in a different world. He was just so creative. He used to say, ‘Allan, I’m on a mission, and I have to complete this mission’. He would work and work [at something] until he got it like a pro. That’s the kind of amazing individual he was.
Bob Marley, the seer: Except for maybe one or two persons, I don’t think anybody inside here knows that Marley was psychic. I think I was probably closest to him than anybody else because we spent so much time together. We used to jog together every day growing up. I had numerous experiences with him, where there were a lot of things he used to tell me. And, honestly speaking, many things that that man disclosed to me have come to pass. And some other things, too, which you will read in the book... When you’re born a psychic, people say you come on this Earth awakened, and that was Bob. He knew what he wanted, he knew what he was going for, and Marley was somebody who could tell you things that were gonna happen. He was truly a natural mystic.
Was Bob antisocial?: He was in a different world. He had that kind of personality. I used to look at him and say, “People are afraid of you because they say you don’t talk to people”, and he would say, “Bwoy, people don’t understand me, but I’m just that.” Inside of him was not what was on the outside. On the inside he was soft, but outside he was tough.