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Jamaica premiere for Marley tribute


A new movie documents the life of Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley (AP)

A new movie documents the life of Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley (AP)

A new movie documents the life of Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley (AP)

Thousands of reggae fans have crowded a Kingston park to watch a screening of a documentary about Bob Marley, the charismatic figure of reggae music who brought the Jamaican musical genre to every corner of the globe.

Marley premiered in his Caribbean homeland to high praise from Jamaicans who marvelled at footage showing the late singer's impassioned interviews, family life and loose-limbed stage presence.

Drummers with their long dreadlocks tucked into crocheted caps performed traditional rhythms and chants before the film in homage to Marley's Rastafarian faith, the religion that reveres Ethiopia's deceased Emperor Haile Selassie as a god.

Alvin "Seeco" Patterson was one of several reggae luminaries who sat in a VIP section with former prime ministers, ambassadors, and businessmen before a big movie screen in Kingston's Emancipation Park. Marley's widow, Rita, and other family members also joined the celebration.

"We started the music together. As he got bigger, he didn't change that much. Always stayed a very nice guy," said Mr Patterson, a close friend of the singer's and a long-time percussionist in Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Others spoke in reverential tones about Marley, who died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36.

"Bob Marley was one of the greatest human beings who ever walked the earth," Lisa Hanna, Jamaica's minister of youth and culture, told the crowd to applause before the film started.

The documentary, a long-in-the-works project authorised by the Marley family, takes a linear, biographic approach that takes nearly 2 1/2 hours to tell the Jamaican songwriter's life story through friends and relatives.

Born in rural St Ann parish in 1945, Marley rose from the gritty Kingston slum of Trench Town to global stardom in the 1970s with hits including No Woman No Cry, Jammin', Get Up Stand Up and I Shot The Sheriff.

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