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On Bob Marley’s Birthday, A Gift For His Fans: Lost Tapes Restored

“Spine-tingling” is how someone described the music on the tapes that were thought to be lost for 40 years.

Published
Entertainment
2 min read
(Photo: iStock)

Reggae legend Bob Marley would have turned 72 on 6 February. Ahead of his birth anniversary, a treasure trove of his music – discovered from a damp hotel basement in London, where they were stashed for over 40 years – has been remastered.

The 13 reel-to-reel, analogue master tapes were discovered in cardboard box files in a run-down hotel in Kensal Rise, the modest lodgings where Bob Marley and the Wailers stayed during their European tours in the mid-1970s, The Guardian reported.

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The mother load of music, known to Bob Marley fans as “the lost masters”, was believed to have been ruined beyond repair owing to water damage. However, after working for over a year-and-a-half, technicians have managed to restore 10 of the records.

The tapes are the live recordings of Marley’s London and Paris concerts between 1974 and 1978, featuring some of his most famous tracks including No Woman NO Cry, I Shot the Sheriff and Exodus.

The concerts were recorded live on the only mobile 24-track studio vehicle in UK at the time and were loaned by the Rolling Stone to Marley and the Wailers.

London businessman and Marley fan Joe Gatt saved the tapes after he received a call from a friend who claimed to have found some old recordings of the reggae legend.

He was doing a building refuse clearance that included some discarded two-inch tapes from the 1970s. I couldn’t just stand by and let these objects, damaged or not, be destroyed so I asked him not to throw them away,.
Joe Gatt

He took the damaged records to jazz singer Louis Hoover, who then passed them to sound technician specialist Martin Nichols.

When I saw the labels and footnotes on the tapes, I could not believe my eyes, but then I saw how severely water damaged they were. There was literally plasticised gunk oozing from every inch and, in truth, saving the sound quality of the recordings, looked like it was going to be a hopeless task.
Louis Hoover

Nichols said that the tapes would have been lost forever had anyone played them in their decrepit condition.

The end result has really surprised me, because they are now in a digital format and are very high quality. It shows the original recordings were very professionally made. From the current find of 13 tapes, 10 were restored, two were blank and one was damaged beyond repair.

The restoration cost £25,000. When asked about the final product, Hoover said:

It made the hair on the back of our necks stand up and genuine shivers ran up our spines with joy... The experience was comparable to, say, finding Van Gogh’s easel, paint pallet and paints in an old room somewhere, then Vincent emerges through a secret door to paint 26 of his finest masterpieces… purely for us.

Source: The Guardian

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