INTERVIEW AND STORY BY RACHEL L. BERGMAN
After creating his own genre of poetry set to reggae music, and bringing it to the masses, Bob Marley became one of the world’s best selling artists of all time. At age 36, leaving broken hearts strewn across the planet, Marley’s influence remains as strong today as it was back when you might have been so lucky as to make eye contact with him during a chance encounter or from the front row of one of his concerts.
Jamaican-born photographer Nigel Scott was one such lucky soul. He captured images of Bob Marley performing at three shows in Toronto between 1975 and 1979. The resulting photographs remained hidden for years, and now through August 15th they’re on display at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club alongside his Marley-inspired artworks.
This is Nigel’s way of giving Bob Marley what he calls “a small Thank You.”
Though a bit shy when the focus turns to him, Nigel answered our questions about his art and his memories of Mr. Marley.
Imagista: Do you have a routine you need to go through to get your creativity flowing?
NS: No. It’s pretty much there all the time. It’s a drug man, creation. For me it’s the ultimate thing, to make something from nothing. I’m pretty much 24/7 thinking about it. Maybe a little too much sometimes.
Imagista: Were you an artist as a child?
NS: My mom recognized something because she took me to a special art tutor when my high school didn’t have an art program. I dedicated my book (Conversations With Blue) to her.
Imagista: How did you get to know Bob Marley?
NS: I can’t really say I got to know him. We once crossed paths playing soccer, or it’s called football in Jamaica. That was in 1974. It was a just a little game, like five guys over here, five over there. Then in 1975 when I first went to Toronto he was playing there at Massey Hall and I went to check out the concert. I was going in to get tickets and ran into a friend of mine that was his art director. He asked me if I wanted to wait because Bob was coming to play a soundcheck. Five minutes later he came in. I nearly fell off the chair during the soundcheck. I was only 19, you know? I’d seen him play before. I loved Marley. He was just brilliant. After the sound check he looked at me and said “I know the I face.” That’s the Rasta Jamaican way of saying it, you know? I couldn’t believe he knew my face. That’s how I ended up on side stage that night.
Imagista: Your work with Bob comes up in a lot of the bios written about you.
NS: Oh yeah? This stuff was never exposed until I went to Japan. I never wanted to become the guy that shot Bob Marley, to be honest. I’m not a music photographer. So I put these away for 10 or 12 years. One day I thought I should check them out and I was very scared to see if they looked dated or if they looked good, and actually they looked good, you know. So I fell in love with them again and I brought them out when I went to Japan. They’re Marley freaks over there. They love Marley, man.
Imagista: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about your work, if any?
NS: I don’t know, really. I don’t know. I mean it’s hard to know how people see me.
Imagista: Do you believe in callings?
NS: I’m not sure about callings or destinies but I do believe in a synchronicity. I do believe that Marley had a calling. I don’t know if I have the calling. I think I have a passion.
Imagista: Anything else you want to add?
NS: I learned a long time ago… There are a whole bunch of interviews I did when I was really young. Too much, too much. I try to just answer the questions.