A heritage plaque paying tribute to Bob Marley has been unveiled at his home in London, 38 years after his death. The blue sign, attached to 42 Oakley Street in Chelsea, makes the place the Jamming singer called home with his band, The Wailers, when he finished recording his Exodus album. It reads: ‘Bob Marley 1945 – 1981. Singer and songwriter lived here in 1977’
In 2015 English Heritage, which manages more than 400 historic buildings and cultural sites across the country, established a working group to reinvestigate the addresses of noted ethnic minority figures.
Out of more than 900 blue plaques across London, only 4% are dedicated to black and Asian individuals.
Blue plaques mark the link between a location and an individual who was considered “eminent” in their field.
The individuals should have made an “exceptional impact in terms of public recognition”, and they must have been dead for at least 20 years.
The Jamaican-born reggae star joins John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Mozart and other musicians and composers who have been honoured with a rare blue plaque.
The plaque commemorating Marley’s achievements and associating him with said address had taken longer to confirm as Marley was not registered in phone directories or electoral registers.
Marley also gave a different address during an arrest for cannabis possession in 1977 to prevent the police from searching the house in Oakley Street for drugs.
English Heritage finally confirmed the house was the band’s headquarters and Marley’s primary address from contemporary reports.
Rastafarian writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah unveiled the plaque on Tuesday.
Mr Zephaniah, said: “It’s very difficult to say what Bob Marley would have said about this plaque, but he did once say, ‘Live for yourself, you will live in vain, live for others, and you will live again’, so I’m quite sure he would say that this is for his people and his music.”
‘This matters because there are not many black or Asian people who have blue plaques and we need more because we know they’ve made a great contribution
Benjamin Zephaniah added Marley’s music “came from a small island in the Caribbean and shook up the world”
Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga said: “More than a brilliant musician, he became a cultural icon who blazed a trail for other black artists.”