“Money can’t buy life.”
These are the words of Rohan Marley, as he re-emphasized the position he and his brothers have taken, that the catalog and other publishing rights of his father, reggae icon Bob Marley, will not be sold under any circumstances. .
Rohan, the fourth son of the Marley clan, was invited to a recent episode of The Marley I am an Athlete podcast with NFL superstars Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder, when the subject of Bob’s catalog came up and the family’s ten-year struggle in the 1980s to gain control of the estate.
Rohan spoke of the time when the Marley family approached Michael Jackson for help during their tribulations, and he was speechless when, instead of helping with a loan, the Suspense star offered to buy the rights to Bob’s catalog.
“Michael Jackson. Dear Michael,” Rohan said sarcastically. “We went to Michael and said, ‘Hi Michael, can you help us? We need some money, we don’t have any money and they’re trying to get us,’ and Michael said, ‘No, I’ll buy them.’ .
Jackson, who was known for buying catalogs from other artists, including his friends, had met Marley in 1975 when he was booked with the Jackson 5 to open Bob Marley and the Wailers at Jamaica’s National Heroes Stadium. . There is no audio or video of the iconic concert, but there are photos of the Jackson 5’s visit to Marley’s house in Kingston, before the show.
Rohan, a former advocate, recalled Michael’s offer after he told the podcast he started playing football to get a scholarship to attend college. This revelation sparked interest, as one of the hosts said that it seemed strange to him that a son of the reggae legend was looking for a scholarship when his father was so rich.
“It’s not as easy as you think, because when we were kids, you know when my father died … he never wrote a will … so the Jamaican government wanted to sell all his rights, so it was my sister Cedella. and Mama Rita – Cedella (was) of legal age and she was the one who fought for it … “, said Rohan.
“We as children got ready to go to school, we didn’t always have money, everything was frozen, my father: $ 2 million was his property at the time. So they froze, lawyers’ fees , that … All we had were our father’s rights, his resemblance and his music and we didn’t sell that. And at no point did we sell it … “
“People offered us $ 20 million,” he added, alluding to the fact that Michael Jackson was not the only foreign investor interested.
“Chris Blackwell, the guy we don’t like, lent us the money,” Rohan said.
A Washington Post article published in August 1991 provides a historical reference to the facts highlighted by Rohan in his interview with the podcast.
He noted that in relation to Chris Blackwell of Island Records, Rita and six adult children of Marley had tried to reclaim their “legacy before it was completely lost by legal fees or auctioned off to foreign investors.”
The article noted that Bob’s heirs “offered to buy the estate for $ 15.2 million” because they wanted to “make sure the ‘pearl’ doesn’t go to the Japanese-owned MCA, which offered a little more.” or to other foreigners like Barbados, the musician based on Eddy Grant who had also made an offer, but later retired.
“We were able to buy our father’s rights because when they were sold they gave the children the first right to refuse … So we had the money at that time. We had to (raise) money at that time to buy the publishing rights, the name and the like, because they were selling … “Rohan said in an interview.
“It’s as if this man has worked so hard, all his life to separate, to find his own independence. We could never be his children to return it to people (erased with insult). Then we would never put the name, the resemblance or the rights of our father in the hands of nobody, so that was what it was then … That’s why it’s us today “, he said pointing out that the Tuff Gong studies were the catalyst that used his father.to become independent as an artist.
Rohan greeted his older sister Cedella throughout the interview, noting that she was the driving force behind everything that came out in favor of Bob’s heirs. He also said that the largest bid they received for the estate at the time was $ 25 million, which Cedella flatly rejected. “My sister said,‘ If it’s worth $ 20 million for you, it’s worth a lot more for us, ’” she explained.
In a follow-up interview with Bob’s eldest son, Ziggy Marley, World Music Views reported that “he has not even passed his [Ziggy’s] he sells his extensive music catalog, much less his father’s musical rights. ”
“No, sah, it’s not even a matter for me, no one lets my children, maybe my grandchildren sell it,” Ziggy had said in the post, before adding, “As I say, It’s bigger, we look forward to it right now, we look forward to it, we look forward to it … there have been offers, everything (for) my father, people offer something, but we don’t sell it like that, “.
The Washington Post article also noted that the settlement of the estate had been “hopelessly delayed” by the fights, especially among the women who had Bob’s children, and that several supporting musicians were playing. on Bob’s side, the Wailers, were also suing for a share of the estate.
He noted that Marley’s property was being “administered by Jamaica’s largest bank, with the courts intervening when necessary (which it often was) and that some of his children were” furious because estate administrators and Kingston’s lawyers , Miami and New York have raised $ 4 million in fees while allegedly acting in the best interests of the heirs.
“He (Bob) had at least 11 children of eight different women, but left no will, causing endless claims for his fortune, his clothes and his contracts. Marley had few tangible properties, but his recordings generate 2 $ 5 million a year in royalties, “the Washington Post said.
Another painful moment during the 10 years of cheating was when the lawyers, who worked on behalf of the estate, sued to take out the house that Bob had bought for his mother in Miami. This development was received with indignation by the Marley clan and became a unifying approach that made them more determined that they would not allow any undesirables to control Bob’s legacy.
“These lawyers earned up to $ 250 an hour, while Mother B’s grandchildren received $ 100 to $ 800 a month in inheritances,” she added.
In 1991, the battle for Bob’s fortune was finally settled. The Jamaican Supreme Court then ruled in favor of his widow Rita Marley and Chris Blackwell’s Island Logic Limited, a company that had controlled the estate since 1989. It was decided that the estate would be managed by Island Logic for 10 more years. before passing into the hands of Rita and her 11 legally recognized children.
Song catalogs have been trading in multi-million dollar deals over the last year. According to CNBC, rock icons Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young have sold all or part of their song catalogs in recent deals. Recently, catalogs of great hitmakers such as Shakira, Lil Wayne and Calvin Harris have also been sold.