This Day In Jamaican History

On this day in Jamaican history: Bob Marley performed his last show

Bob Marley Last Performance

On September 23, 1980, Bob Marley performed his last show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The show was part of his “Uprising” tour, which was meant to promote the album with the same name. Marley and his band The Wailers performed at The Stanley Theatre, now known as The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. This concert became the last scheduled public concert given by the iconic reggae musician.

On September 21, 1980, Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park in New York City. The collapse was probably the result of complications from his malignant melanoma, a disease for which he received a diagnosis in 1977. In spite of his poor health, however, Marley went on to perform in Pittsburgh on September 23 with musicians who included bassist Aston Barrett, drummer Carlton Barrett, percussionist Alvin Patterson, keyboardists Earl Lindo and Tyrone Downie, and guitarists Al Anderson and Junior Marvin. Also featured at the concert were the vocalists, the I Threes, comprised of Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths.

Song from the album “Uprising” formed a large part of the Pittsburgh concert and included “Coming in from the Cold,” “Work,” “Could You Be Loved,” “Redemption Song” and “Zion Train,” Marley hits like “Positive Vibration,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Jamming,” “Exodus” and “Is This Love” also formed part of the concert. An official recording of the tour was released as  “Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980.” The last song of the concert, and the last performed in public by Bob Marley before he died, was “Get Up Stand Up.”

The Uprising Tour, which began in Zurich, Switzerland, was the largest music tour in Europe in 1980. It was the first time Bob Marley and the Wailers appeared in Zurich, Ireland, Scotland, and Italy. His performance before some 120,000 fans at San Siro stadium in Milan has been considered Italy’s largest music event in history. Two days before his collapse, he had played two shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Marley sought treatment for the melanoma at several clinics in the US, all of which gave him only a month to live. He went to Germany to receive treatment, and this successfully prolonged his life by six months, longer than any other clinic had predicted. Marley died on May 11, 1981.

Photo and video source: Album Cover:Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980 

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