Smile Jamaica > One Love Peace Concert, 1976-1978

The story of Bob's heroic journey from facing political violence in 1976 to bringing the peace in 1978

Bob Marley at the Jamaica House Meeting (1976-11)Bob Marley: Legend

Smile Jamaica

The concert was conceived in spring of 1976 by Bob–and facilitated by the Cultural Section of the Prime Minister's Office–to be a free concert for the people of Jamaica.

Daily Gleaner advertisement for the Smile Jamaica Concert (1976-12-05)Bob Marley: Legend

Record label for the Smile Jamaica single (1976-11-05) by Neville GarrickBob Marley: Legend

In addition to the event, Bob agreed to record a new song for the government to use in tourism efforts. "Smile Jamaica" was first released as a single, and later as a bonus on the Rastaman Vibration album.

Rough design for Smile Jamaica Concert car bumper sticker. (1976-11) by Neville GarrickBob Marley: Legend

Jamaica Daily News front page story Bob Marley Shot (1976-12-04)Bob Marley: Legend

Assassination Attempt

In a time of great political turmoil, often resulting in violence, the government called a snap election for 10 days after the concert. In doing so, it made the show appear as a political rally, resulting in gunmen coming to Bob's home and shooting up the place to the stop the event on December 3, 1976.

Bob Marley at the University of the West Indies Hospital (1976-12-03) by Clive Williams (Jamaica Daily News photographer)Bob Marley: Legend

Bob was shot in the arm, Rita Marley was shot in the back of the head, and manager Don Taylor was shot multiple times in the stomach. Miraculously, they all survived.

Bob Marley live at the Smile Jamaica Concert at the National Heroes Park, Kingston (1976-12-05)Bob Marley: Legend

The Concert

On December 5, 1976 (just two days after the shooting), in an act of bold defiance, Bob performed as scheduled in front of 80,000 people at National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Bob Marley live at the Smile Jamaica Concert at the National Heroes Park, Jamaica (1976-12-05)Bob Marley: Legend

When asked why he decided to go with the show, he simply replied, "The people who making this world worse aren't taking the day off. How can I?"

Bob Marley live at the Smile Jamaica Concert (1976-12-05)Bob Marley: Legend

Learn more about the concert and backstory in this video.

The Daily Gleaner review of the "Smile Jamaica Concert Reluctant Bob was Late, but still...Successful" (1976-12-07)Bob Marley: Legend

After the concert, Bob and the band flew off to the Bahamas for a couple of weeks before setting up a new home base in London while things cooled down.

Bob Marley meets with the Peace Concert Committee (1978-02)Bob Marley: Legend

Planning The Peace

In late 1977, having come to an understanding for the benefit of their communities, rival neighborhood leaders all came together to London to convince Bob to perform a concert in Jamaica to solidify this newly-achieved peace. He agreed and planned for the One Love Peace Concert.

The Jamica Daily News front page "Bob Marley is Back" after self imposed exile in London. (1978-02-25)Bob Marley: Legend

Thousands rushed to the tarmac at Norman Manley International Airport as Bob made his triumphant to Kingston on February 25, 1978.

Bob Marley at Peace concert sound check (1978-04-21)Bob Marley: Legend

Bob Marley at 56 Hope Road press interview. (1978-04-21) by Adrian BootBob Marley: Legend

Press Day

After soundcheck–the day prior to the concert–Bob hosted the media at 56 Hope Road (his home and band headquarters). He told reporters, "The world will be watching, since them gonna follow the example we set. When we come together the whole world gonna look and seh, ‘It can be done.’”

Bob Marley with policemen at 56 Hope Road (1978-04-20) by Adrian BootBob Marley: Legend

Bob Marley live at the One Love/Peace Concert (1978-04-22) by Adrian BootBob Marley: Legend

One Love Peace Concert

On April 22, 1978, Bob headlined the One Love Peace Concert at the National Stadium in Kingston. It was a moment that literally shook the foundation of a nation.

Bob Marley live at the One Love/Peace concert at the National stadium. (1978-04-22) by Adrian BootBob Marley: Legend

Bob Marley live at the One Love/Peace Concert (1978-04-22) by Adrian BootBob Marley: Legend

A Moment of Unity

During the band's performance of "Jamming," Bob called up the heads of the rival political parties in Jamaica on stage and shook their hands in a showing of unity. It sent a message to the people of Jamaica and beyond: "Puss and dog they get together. What's wrong with loving one another?"

Bob Marley live at the One Love/Peace Concert at the National Stadium. (1978-04-22) by Adrian BootBob Marley: Legend

Watch the Wailers' Art and Lighting Director Neville Garrick tell the full story of this iconic moment in Jamaican history.

T- Shirt for the One Love/Peace Concert (1978-04-22)Bob Marley: Legend

Bob Marley NYC press conference at the Waldorf Astoria. (1978-06-17) by Neville GarrickBob Marley: Legend

For his efforts, Marley was recognized with the United Nations' Peace Medal during an event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel ballroom on June 15, 1978.

Bob Marley at the New York Press conference (1978-06-17) by Lyn GoldsmithBob Marley: Legend

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