By: Chris Kornelis
Wiki Commons / Eddie Mallin
At the time of his death in May 1981, Bob Marley was 36 years old, the biggest star in reggae and the father of at least 11 children. He was not, however, a big seller.
For Dave Robinson, this presented an opportunity.
Two years after Marley's passing, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Marley's label, Island Records, brought Robinson in to run his U.K. operation. Robinson's first assignment was to put out a compilation of Bob Marley's hits. He took one look at the artist's sales figures and was shocked.
Marley's best-selling album, 1977's Exodus, had moved only about 650,000 units in the United States and fewer than 200,000 in the United Kingdom. Those were not shabby numbers, but they weren't in line with the artist's profile.
"Marley was a labor of love for employees of Island Records," says Charly Prevost, who ran Island in the United States for a time in the 1980s. "U2 and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Robert Palmer is what paid your salary."More »