Bob Marley and the Wailers are half way through their 1979 Survival tour of the US when they pull into the Edgewater Hotel on 666 Wisconsin Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin on November 11, 1979.  The Edgewater, whose motto is “Where the only thing they overlook is Lake Mendota, is a familiar place to Marley.  He stayed here just last year when The Wailers played two back-to-back shows at the Orpheum Theater.

Hotel Manager Scott Faulkner recalls his visits:

“Bob Marley stayed here twice,” he said. “It was always a different hotel when he was here” — and Faulkner cut loose with a swirling you-know-what-I-mean laugh. “He had an entourage. And he would do his own cooking with his own spices. The halls were wafting.”

Bob Marley and the Wailers play to a crowd of 3,500 later that evening, mostly college students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Performing songs from his most militant album Survival, Marley woos the crowd with stories of black oppression, repatriation, and black nationalism.

As described in the attached concert review from the Wisconsin State Journal, Marley’s vocals on songs like “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”, “Concrete Jungle”, and “War”, were “delivered with the revolutionary conviction of a man who fervently believes in what he says.”

The Wailers, now an expanded collective of musicians, sporting two rock guitarists- one American, one British – provide a much fuller sound than the Wailers of just a few years back.  And that sound, as much rock as it is reggae, fills the Dane County Coliseum to its capacity, leaving the audience almost breathless.

It isn’t all doom, gloom, and revolutionary fervor though.  Marley juxtaposes his overtly rebellious songs with others celebrating life and living.  “Wake Up and Live”, “Jammin’”, and “Exodus” round out the set, making everything seem balanced at the Dane that night.

I have included a concert review written by James McLinden and published in the Wisconsin State Journal on November 12, 1979.

Bob Marley performing 1979
Bob Marley performing 1979

© Eric Algra

Interesting note about the guitar in this photograph.  As you can see, Bob is not playing his Gibson.  According to Mark Miller, Bob Marley’s Stage Manager from 1978-1980, in a recent note to me:

“In 1979 when we went to Japan, we were invited to the Yamaha Musical Instrument factory. We did a tour, saw what they were making (and they copied the sound of Fenders and Gibson’s exactly) and then before we left, they gave Bob a couple of guitars, with the one in your picture from Madison being one of them. Junior got a guitar, Al too, and Carly Barrett got an entire drum kit!”

Give thanks to Mark Miller for his continued contributions to the Midnight Raver blog.  Mark continues to manage the best acts in reggae and world music.  Please visit one of his artists, Nkulee Dube’s website at