Born among the lush forests and rolling hills of Nine Mile, Jamaica, and raised in Kingston’s Trench Town, Bob Marley carried the sounds and songs of his home with him across the oceans, becoming a musical and cultural figure adored around the world.
In honor of Marley’s life and career, the Marley Family and Terrapin Station Entertainment have brought the “One Love Experience” to Ovation Hollywood for the 12-week interactive exhibit’s U.S. debut.
“We are so thrilled to have the exhibit opening in Los Angeles just in time for Daddy’s birthday,” Bob Marley Group CEO Cedella Marley said. “After being in London and Toronto, it’s going to be amazing bringing the experience here to the U.S. for the first time and just steps from Daddy’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
“The ‘Bob Marley One Love Experience’ has already created so many positive vibrations for fans in London and Toronto, and it’s an honor to continue to have the opportunity to curate and produce the exhibit right in the heart of Hollywood,” added Jonathan Shank, director and producer of the “One Love Experience.”
Filling a 15,000-square-foot space in Ovation Hollywood, the multi-room “One Love Experience,” which holds the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Bob Marley Archive, was built so visitors could amble through the different places and events that marked standout moments in Marley’s life.
The exhibition begins in the “Music Room,” which features a diverse collection of memorabilia including original tour passes, itineraries, lyric sheets and a Guild Madeira A-20, the songwriting guitar Marley kept at his house in Kingston. One of the largest vinyl records in the world stands in the center of the room as a tribute to “Legend,” the longest-charting album in Billboard’s Catalog Albums chart history and the bestselling reggae album in history.
The space then leads into a physical recreation of Nine Mile in the “One Love Forest” room, where neon lights and foliage installations set the mood. The forest symbolizes Marley’s connection to nature and notes his relationship with marijuana.
“Although in later life Bob Marley came to be considered synonymous with Kingston’s downtown ghetto of Trench Town, the singer was really a country boy, raised and reared in a backwoods part of Jamaica,” wrote music journalist and author Chris Salewicz. “There he would watch the ebb and flow of nature, observing animals and plants grow, paying special attention to the timeless progress of trees; in his music there is often a sense of an association with the earth itself.
“Nine Mile also had prime climatic conditions for the growing of marijuana. … The ‘natural mystic’ that wafts on the breezes — blowing more than simply the scent of marijuana — through Nine Mile is like one of God’s greatest and most secret truths.”
Emerging from the forest, visitors can find the “Soul Shakedown Studio,” a silent disco-style display with headphones that tune into a curated playlist of Marley’s live performances. There is also a video display of a Marley concert projected onto a wall that lists every show he played throughout his career.
The exhibition then moves into the “Beautiful Life Zone” that depicts Marley’s love of “the beautiful game” of soccer along with recreational activities like pingpong, foosball and dominoes. The room holds recently uncovered photographs of Marley playing soccer, a Prestige jukebox, foosball tables and a pair of Marley’s shoes from the 1970s with dirt still on the soles.
The next space, “Concrete Jungle Street Art Expo,” features a collection of original works from internationally renowned street artists like The Postman, Camoworks, Idiotbox and Thierry Guetta, known as Mr. Brainwash. Several of Guetta’s pieces that depict Marley performing were made using hundreds of broken vinyl records assembled into multi-panel mosaics.
“In Jamaica, Bob Marley’s home country, you are greeted seemingly on every corner by street art that depicts a triumvirate of cultural local icons: Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia and God to followers of Rastafari; Marcus Garvey, the first prophet of Black repatriation; and Bob Marley himself, the international king of reggae and positivity,” Salewicz wrote. “The real living piece of street art was always Bob Marley himself. Striding out onto the stage at Milan’s San Siro stadium in 1980 to perform before an audience of 120,000, Chris Blackwell, to whose Island Records Bob was signed, noted the way Bob Marley carried himself on that backstage journey to the boards: a determined dynamic lethargy that simultaneously embraced an absolutely self-effacing yet utter self-confidence. Bob Marley was living art.”
The exhibition ends in the “Next Gen Zone” that celebrates the influence, philanthropy and legacy of the Marley family that remains today. The room is filled with tributes to Bob’s wife Rita, their children and grandchildren, including Cedella, Damian, Julian, Sharon, Skip, Stephen, Ziggy and many others.
After admiring the records, awards and photographs of the Marley family in both professional and casual settings, visitors are encouraged to make a contribution to the One Love Tree in the room’s center by writing messages of reflection and hanging them from one of the tree’s branches.
On the final wall before the exit, the “Next Gen Zone” concludes with a list of the lasting organizations and philanthropic ventures of the Marley Family, such as the Football is Freedom Initiative, founded after Cedella became global ambassador for the Jamaica women’s soccer program to provide young girls with the opportunity to realize personal, professional and educational goals through the sport; the Ghetto Youths Foundation, built to generate social change and equity by providing services like subsidized meals and scholarships to those in need; U.R.G.E, created by Ziggy to work with communities worldwide to improve the lives of children; and the Rita Marley and Bob Marley Foundations, which were founded to alleviate poverty and hunger for people in developing countries through education, culture, health care and sustainable development.
“The greatest legacy Bob has left is on view in this room. It is a tribute to his wife Rita, his children and now his grandchildren, who continue to work to spread Bob’s message to the world,” Salewicz wrote. “‘One Love’ was perhaps Bob’s most evocative song, and it is only correct that is should provide the name for the far-reaching and always-growing movement of philanthropy that has spread Bob’s name across the planet over the years: The Bob Marley One Love Experience.”
“Bob Marley One Love Experience”
WHERE: Ovation Hollywood, 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood
WHEN: Exhibit runs until Sunday, April 23
COST: $30 for adults; $20 for children (ages 16 and under), students and military; $45 for premium admission; $70 for VIP admission; $18 for group bundle