Cedella Marley was 13 years old when the man she still calls “Daddy” died in 1981. She has many memories of him, she tells me, but two often stand out for her. The first is a sense of Robert Nesta Marley as a kind of shape-shifting presence in her childhood, always there and not there.
“He was always rehearsing when we were little and living in Jamaica,” she says, speaking on the phone last week from New York. “He would be the one that was always peeping in, peeping in the morning when he went out, and then peeping in at night when he got back. I would cover my head with my blanket in bed and I think he enjoyed scaring me a little bit. For a long time, he was a kind of scary shadow to me.”
And then, she says, there was the time when she finally won the admiration of her schoolmates, whose parents used to tell them not to mix with the Marley kids, because of Bob’s reputation for “bringing the ghetto uptown”. “One of my really cool memories is when Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five came to Jamaica. Daddy was the opening act. That was one time when I was proud to be Bob Marley’s daughter.”