Live at the Starlight Amphitheater
July 22, 1978
According to David Moskowitz’s book Bob Marley: A Biography, the 1978 Kaya Tour had three parts: two North American legs and one European leg that separated them. Most houses were sold out and many shows were recorded for posterity by Chris Blackwell using the Island Mobile Studio. The tour began in Ann Arbor, Michigan with shows throughout the mid-west. This was followed by a swing out to the east coast and then north to Canada. The band then returned to the U.S. for a series of dates before departing for Europe. The second North American leg began in Vancouver, BC and took the band through Washington, Oregon, and on to California, where they played six shows, including a show on July 22 at the Starlight Amphitheater.
The opening act for this performance was Little Anthony & the Imperials (although Little Anthony was not with the band at the time). Noted journalist and Marley historian Roger Steffens recalls the show:
We drove down to L.A. the following weekend to catch Bob at the Starlight Amphitheater in Burbank. It was a nightmare getting inside, because they had only one entrance, and they were searching everyone. We missed the Imperials’ opening act, but found our seats just as Bob was introduced. The show was similar to that in Cruz – at least until the encores. Later we learned that backstage that night stars like Mick Jagger and Diana Ross were milling about, trying to wangle an invitation to come on stage with Bob, but he was having none of that. Imagine our surprise then, as Bob began to sing his final encore of “Get Up Stand Up” when loping across the stage with massive strides, Peter Tosh appeared, just at the part of the song where he came in on the record. As he reached for the microphone, Bob suddenly caught sight of him, and he broke out into the most massive grin I’ve ever seen, Grand Canyon-wide with delighted surprise. Peter never missed a beat, and the two hugged each other and acted as if they’d never been separated. It was the only time they would ever appear together outside of Jamaica after the breakup of the group, a piece of history that, sadly, most people in the audience didn’t realize was happening. Afterwards, I encountered Peter walking through the crowd. The next day he was opening for the Rolling Stones in the Anaheim Stadium, and I eagerly assured him that we, like many many others, would be there basically just to see him, and that he had a whole heap of fans in L.A.
A few years later, just after Bob died, I interviewed Peter for “L.A. Reggae” a cable tv show Chilli Charles and I had just started, and asked him whether Bob had known he was going to come out on stage that evening. “No,” he said, indicating that it was the Spirit that had moved him spontaneously and “whatsoever the Spirit tell me to do, I do.” What else did he remember of that night? “Well,” he drawled, thick smoke pouring from his nostrils, “I remember we go backstage and Bob clapped my hand and say, ‘Bwoi, the Pope feel that one!'” Then he laughed and, staring straight into the camera in his most terrifying tone, announced, “And three days later, the Pope died!”.
Steffens also related the experience for me recently:
“It was amazing because when Peter marched across the stage, hardly anyone recognized him, and I remember standing up and yelling. “It’s Peter Tosh! Peter Tosh!!” to a largely ignoring crowd. There are only a very few moments in one’s life in which you are consciously aware of history happening. Seeing the reunion of Peter and Bob after so much acrimony, and witnessing the obvious love that remained between them was one for me.”
On his DVD Live at the Hollywood Bowl, artist Ben Harper relates a childhood experience in which, during the 1978 Bob Marley concert at the Starlight Amphitheater, Peter Tosh showed up unannounced as Get Up, Stand Up was being performed, took the microphone from Marley and started singing the last verse of the song to thunderous applause.
In addition to the concert descriptions provided by Roger Steffens and Ben Harper, I also obtained a review of the show from an anonymous concert-goer:
In 1978, while visiting Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to see and hear Bob Marley live at a very small venue called the Starlight Bowl in Burbank. The show was incredible, and we were able to move to within 20 feet of the stage. To this day I can still feel the music and the great vibes that Bob released into the air that night. For an encore, Peter Tosh joined on stage and that was a quite special reunion of sorts. Of all the live shows I’ve seen, I think that must be one of the best and certainly a very memorable experience, not to mention the ticket was only $10.
I have included a review of the show written by Richard Cromelin and published in the Los Angeles Times on July 24, 1978.
01. Positive Vibration (5:44)
02. Them Belly Full [But We Hungry] (3:41)
03. Rebel Music [3 O’Clock Roadblock] (5:14)
04. The Heathen (4:12)
05. Crisis (3:54)
06. War + No More Trouble (6:05)
07. Running Away + Crazy Baldhead (7:13)
08. I Shot The Sheriff (4:27)
09. No Woman, No Cry (5:37)
10. Jamming (7:48)
11. Is This Love (4:33)
12. Easy Skanking (2:45)
13. Get Up, Stand Up (with Peter Tosh) (5:51)
Many thanks to Roger Steffens for providing final edits and for sharing his own personal memories of the show.
… “Bob Marley at the Starlight” The way they discribed Reggae.. their fright, etc.. what a bliss….. !!! Well .. Bob Marley forever…
Wow.. awesome blog really.. I will ever be fascinated by Bob Marley and Reggae as a whole..
I was one of two keyboard players with the Imperials on the Kaya tour. It was an amazing summer, to say the least. Thank you for keepin the memory alive. I will say that Little Anthony was not with the Imperials that year, he was workin on his solo career. I joined the Imperials that January of 1978 and we went to England for 4 months, did the Marley tour all summer, then spent the final 4 months in Japan. It was an awesome experience for me, and i’m still playin keys in the SF bay area to this day. I was friendly with Don Taylor on this tour, we talked alot about a friend of his i knew in Dallas. Good times…
Thank you for taking the time to read! And for making the correction about Little Anthony (I will make change in post). Any personal memories you would like to share? I will add to the blog piece if you do. All love!
Hi Gig, My name is Tyler Holt. My father was Wayne Holt, who played bass for the imperials starting in 67. Can you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to have any info of him. photos video anything during his time with the imperials.. looking forward to hearing from you!
amaizing post that was a positive and great night jah bless the Wailers
thanks for reading and commenting…
Forgot this was at the Starlight I thought it was at the Greek. I met Bob’s manager the week before the concert and was invited backstage after the concert. I was at the back of the ampitheatre on the grass and couldn’t get to the stage in time to go backstage. Wish I could have because it was my last Marley concert but what a last one for the memories. Great blog site.
HISTORIC SHOW! WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE THE AUDIO
I was at that concert but had forgotten the when and where exactly. Thanks for giving me those facts. I remember a bearded man wearing a long robe singing with huge voice that walked out on the stage and around the front of the low stage. I thought he might have been Peter Tosh but the pics don’t have him in a robe. The next concert was Santa Barbara and I’m sorry to have missed it. I always thought that it was his last. Time numbers don’t have an order in my kind of mind so your blog was a nice marker for me.
I have a question about Bob’s concert in Santa Barbara in 1976 that I cant find an answer to. Who opened for him? Some sites say Anthony and the Imperials, but I have photos that show a band with 2 men and 2 women as the opening act. Can you help me?
Definitely Anthony and the Imperials based on what Roger says, and he was there. However, I don’t think Anthony was there that night. There were replacement vocalists. One of the members of the Imperials posts here, maybe he can help.
Saw that show; when Tosh came on stage he was smoking a giant spliff that he put in Marley’s mouth, shhoved him away from the mic, and started, well, wailing. An amazing show!
Worked for the venue. Seated Diana Ross that night. I remember she was dressed in deep purple! Had a stage pass. I was standing next to Bianca behind Al Anderson when Peter Tosh came on stage.. An experience I’ll never ever forget!
Is there a recording of the Starlight show that I attended? Just the thought that I was there would be amazing while playing it. Bowie and B.M. were half of the four concerts I have ever been to, but I think that this one was historic and dumb luck on my part to have experienced. I don’t have a very good connection to the passage of time so this site added a pinpoint date to my memories.
Thank You for that
A correction. I saw the interview and Peter Tosh said that he clapped Bob’s hand and said, “Doh feel that one,” not “the Pope feel that one.”
hello link possible??
I worked backstage at the the Starlight Amphitheater in Burbank, CA. I was there on July 22, 1978 and was fortunate enough to have a “stage”pass and saw the entire concert from left stage. A great deal of musicians came to see the concert. I accompanied Diana Ross to her seat, dressed head to toe in purple. l was standing next to Bianca and Mick Jagger when Peter Tosh came on stage. It was a true highlight of my young life. Needless to say, it was the best concert l’d ever experienced. I met Bob before the concert, before the sound check. He made a point to say hello and chat with me a bit.( l was the ONLY Black African employee on staff). Biggest regret l have is that l have no photos of me from that day. Perhaps there is a photo or film floating out there somewhere. I had a huge afro, hoop earrings and bell-bottoms.