Ziggy Marley has morning voice, the sound of a late night not yet cleared from his throat as he picks up the phone from his home base in Miami. The 43-year-old oldest son of legend Bob Marley is on tour, getting a jump on a summer of spreading the joyous gospel of reggae music across the U.S. He is also promoting “Marley,” the new and widely praised documentary about the too brief but spectacular and inspiring life of his father.
“What ‘Marley’ and its wonderful performance footage leave you with most of all is the joy the man took in the music that set him free and enchanted the world,” said the L.A. Times. The definitive portrait, currently available on XFINITY On Demand, is the first film the Marley family has authorized. It features personal photos, rare footage and interviews with Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer, Rita Marley and other reggae greats who were part of Bob’s life. Ziggy, the father of six children, served as executive producer and eagerly shared his thoughts on the movie and his father. “I hope people will find this movie on Xfinity and really enjoy and hear Bob all over again in a new, more understanding way,” he said.
How did the movie start? It was about five or six years ago and a friend of mine in the music business said we should do a documentary on Bob. I think there was something on Bob Dylan and something on the Rolling Stones, and I said, yeah let’s get on there, let’s check it out and see what can be done. So we started there.
It’s not the first movie on your father. No, there has been so much done on my father, but I’ve never been personally involved in anything, and I felt like something must be missing, you know, if I’m not a part of something. At my age now, I feltl like I needed to represent my father. And represent the family. I thought it was time and I wanted to be a part of it.
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You are one of the executive producers. What role did you play in the production? I helped guide it creatively, in a way. Kevin McDonald directed it, so he really deserves the praise. But it couldn’t have come if I didn’t say yes to it and if we weren’t here to give Kevin access to the individuals, to the footage and the perspective of how we wanted our father to be shown. That was something that made it complete, made it the definitive movie about our father.
What sort of special material or access did you provide? There hasn’t been a lot of footage of Bob, but what we do have is a lot of photos. And we have access to people. Everybody knows the famous people that we personally know but without us these people would not be speaking to anybody about this stuff.
Do you have a favorite scene in the movie? Not really. I mean there is so much in it that interests me, so much I continue to learn about him. Bob’s history with the issues in Africa and going there are instructive and inspirational. You see the struggle, the passion. There is also some funny stuff. And then there is the sad part of what happened in Germany (as Bob sought treatment for the cancer that took his life at age 36). That’s very emotional for us because we weren’t there during that whole episode. It’s also very educational.
What did you learn from it? I think we learned that there were a lot of things happening inside of him, and that a lot of things happened in his life that affected the way he thought or the way he operated as a person. And really the emotional side of him that, you know, that we saw our father as a very strong individual, but I was able to see that things affected him emotionally that we didn’t understand.
Do your children ever ask about him, or do you feel like they learned about him? A lot of my father’s grandchildren have seen it and it is definitely educational for them to understand their grandfather. For all of us, though, this is like a family document that even generations from now can look back on this film and see where we came from. It is a very important document in terms of the history of the family.
What do you hope the rest of us learn from watching this film? A lot of people think they know Bob, but they may not really know him. They will after watching this movie. I think this provides a connection and makes you feel a part of the family. People know his music. It’s part of their life. I want them to feel like this man was a part of their family.
Our Xfinity TV users have many movie choices On Demand and online. Why should they choose this movie? Because this is the best music document that has ever been done on Bob Marley. And the story is compelling. Also, it has everything in it that makes a good movie: marijuana, drama, action, love, humor, and music.
We asked our Facebook users if they had some questions. Let me ask a couple. Dale Robert Swift asked if you have a favorite song of your father’s. Do you? A favorite song would be very difficult. But actually there is an album called Survivor which I used in my high school days to kind of mold my mind into what I would call a militant way of thinking about things. I would say that album probably was very inspirational in giving me direction.
Jewellenn McCormick wants to know if you have a favorite memory of being with your father. Going with him to Zimbabwe for an independence celebration. This was a trip for me that was first of all, I was going to Africa, and also the first time understanding the relationship between my father and Africa and the struggle that Africa was going through. I learned about Africa and freedom and colonialism and these things, so that was very important and lasting.