Photography by John Mireles
By David Perloff
Styled by Ali & Isabelle of Exclusive Artists Management
Photographer's Assignment: Zach Bollinger
Shot on location at the offices of Tuff Gong Worldwide, Beverly Hills
On a sunny afternoon in mid-July, between smoking what looked and smelled like joints on the back patio of his Beverly Hills office, Marley took a moment to discuss his life and career.
As he spoke with a thick, Jamaican accent - about his music, his goals his father - the man exuded the love he preaches. And when the reggae legend began to strum his guitar and sing the title song from his new album, Fly Rasta, I got goose bumps... and felt high on life.
As for whom Marley would like to get high with, I asked him that, too.
PacificSD: How do you describe the music on your new album, Fly Rasta?
ZIGGY MARLEY: Reggae music, future reggae music, new wave reggae music. I don't know what you want to call it or how to describe it. Good music.
Nothing new about it - just that you put the things that have existed always... in a different way, in a different tone, a different frequency. But nothing is new, really, you know? But you can put it together so it sounds fresh, still. So, I think that's the idea for trying the adventure, or something progressive, with what is my roots. I use my roots, but still it's not tied or imprisoned to what it was in the past. It can evolve and develop itself.
How do you feel about how the distribution of music has changed in recent years?
Each generation, each time period, have their own way of getting music. Before records, it was something else, and now it's something else. But it's a natural thing; it's natural for this to happen. As an independent artist, it's important to have as much access to the people as I can, 'cause I don't have the resources that a big record label does. This is good for independent artists, but not so good for big record companies. But I like it.
Having won six Grammys, are there still things you wish to accomplish with your music, or goals you have for your musical career?
I think, as a musician, that I make music with a purpose and a message. Grammys is good, but that is not the accomplishment. The accomplishment would finally be people becoming aware of things, becoming conscious, loving, living - you know, that is a real accomplishment there. That would be the biggest accomplishment. We try to do our part to achieve that. That would be the main goal.
You reach the semi-finals, but that's not enough. [laughs] You always want the finals, you know?
When you return to Beverly Hills from the Rastafari rock star lifestyle you live on the road, do you take your kids to soccer practice?
[laughs] Yeah, me do all of that. I'm kinda very shy, so it's something that actually I started doing more in the past few years. Usually, I'm very like... you know, like to be by myself and things like that. But it's really a good experience - to forget yourself and expose yourself and see other people and see all the people exist, in general. It's a great thing. So for me, to become a part of everyday life of the children is making me grow as a person. Getting out of my box, you know?
Bob Marley is larger than life. Can you share a memory that shows how he was a real man and a father in addition to being a music legend?
Yeah, sure. I can make you see the whole picture. One time... we were living in [Jamaica] at the time, and we were kids, so we used to play in the streets. All our friends were doing street playing, not play dates. [laughs] But it wasn't all the time that it was appropriate, according to my father and my mother. So, one day, he told me not to run up and down in the streets. As soon as he left, I jumped the fence and went to run up and down in the streets. But he didn't leave, he went to visit one of his friends. So, on his way back, I saw his car slowly coming, and I'm like, 'Oh, no!' And he looks at me and call me. 'Go back home.' So I go down and got a good spankin'. Discipline, you know? [laughs] When him give me a spankin', he was down to earth.
Before performing live in concert two days after being shot in 1976, your father said, "The people that are trying to make the world worse never take a day off, why should I?" Do you have a motto or live your life by a similar sentiment?
'Love is my religion' is my motto.
How do you think your father would regard your career and the life you've led?
I don't know for sure, but I think I've done positive things, you know? As an artist, he would love my freedom, my own state of mind in terms of music. I'm not bound to anyone's idea. In general, that is a good life, for a free-minded person. I think he would appreciate something like that.
Is humanity on the right track? And if not, who can fix it?
Well, I think humanity is on the right track. It's politicians and leaders and religious authorities that's not on the right track. I think human beings really want to live together. The problem is that lack of senior leaders who have the real wish of humanity as a part of what they're doing. We, as human beings, we're going the right way, but we are still being misled, and that affects the whole globe. We can do it. The human beings can do it, but we have to get together. We have to find that common goal. I hope one day, you know, enough of us can see - we are the majority. People that have love in their hearts are the majority. Let our will rule. Let we rule. Love is the majority. Hate is the minority.
What's the best thing about being Ziggy Marley?
It's the only thing I know. I'm just who I am, you know? That's the best thing. [laughs]
If you could smoke herb and have a conversation with anyone in the world, alive now or from any time in history, who would you choose?
Yeshua [the Rastafari name for Jesus].