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Bob Marley at the One Love Peace Concert in Jamaica

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Forty two years ago, the One Love Concert was held on April 22, 1978, at The National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The large concert was held during a political civil war in Jamaica between opposing parties Jamaican Labour Party and the People's National Party.

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley pursued a socialist agenda intended to redistribute wealth by nationalizing the country's major export industries. Manley was also aggressively opposed by the CIA and American business interests. Beginning in 1974, he was also opposed by the more conservative Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party and the two politicians hired local gangsters to help them increase their hold on power. Ironically, the idea for the One Love Peace Concert came from two such gangsters from rival political factions, (Claudius 'Claudie' Massop and Aston 'Bucky' Marshall) who happened to be locked up in the same jail cell together and who both wanted to alleviate the violence. The concert was Marley's first performance in Jamaica since the "Smile Jamaica" concert held days after he was shot in 1976.

Bob Marley's performance of "Natty Dread" really builds up the positive energy and unity of the crowd of over 32,000 spectators. The concert was dubbed by the media as the “Third World Woodstock”:

Around 12:30 AM, The climax came during his performance of Jammin’ when he called both Manley and Seaga to the stage, and in a symbolic gesture, the three held up their hands together to signify their unity. Bob Marley said the following as he called the two politicians onstage, and while he held their hands above his head and said while improvising on "Jammin'":

Unfortunately, the event did little to quell the political violence. The event's two gangster organizers, Massop and Marshall, were both killed within two years after the concert. The following election year in 1980 would see 889 reported murders in Jamaica, over 500 more than the previous year.

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