back to profile

Bono inducts Bob Marley

Thank you.  Right, well, I know claiming Bob Marley as Irish might be a little difficult here tonight, but bear with me.  Jamaica and Ireland have a lot in common.  Naomi Campbell, Chris Blackwell, Guinness, a fondness for little green leaves - the weed.  Religion, the philosophy of procrastination: don't put off till tomorrow what you can put off till the day after.  Unless, of course, it's freedom.  We are both islands, we were both colonies.  We share a common yoke - the struggle for identity, the struggle for independence, the vulnerable and uncertain future that's left behind, when the jackboot of empire has finally retreated.  Roots - the getting up, the standing up, and the hard bit: the staying up.  In such a struggle, an often violent struggle, the voice of Bob Marley was a voice of reason.

 So when I heard Bob Marley first, I not only felt it, I felt I understood it.  It was '76 in Dublin, and we were listening to punk-rock.  It was the Clash that brought them home to us, and that E.C. cover version of "I Shot the Sheriff."  That man.  These were love songs you could admit listening to; songs of hurt, hard but healing. Tough Gong [?].  Politics without rhetoric - songs of freedom where that word meant something again, new hymns to a dancing god, redemption songs - a sexy revolution, where Jah is Jehovah on the street-level - not over his people, but with his people.  Not just stylin'... jammin'.  The Lion of Judah, down the Lion of Judah, from Ethiopia, where it all began for the Rasta men, where everything began - well, maybe.  I spent some time in Ethiopia with my wife Allie, and everywhere we went, we saw Bob Marley's face.  Royal wise [?], Solomon and the Queen of Sheba on every street corner, there he was, dressed to hustle God: "Let my people go," an ancient plea - prayers catching fire on Mozambique, Nigeria, the Lebanon, Alabama, Detroit, New York City, Notting Hill, Belfast - Dr. King in dreds, a third- and a first-world superstar.  Mental slavery ends where imagination begins.  Here was this new music, rockin' out of the shanty towns, born from Calypso and raised on the chilled-out R&B beamed in from New Orleans.  Lolling, loping rhythms, telling it like it was, like it is, like it ever shall be.  Skankin', ska, bluebeat, rocksteady, reggae, dub, and now raga.  And all of this from a man who drove three BMWs.  BMW - Bob Marley and the Wailers, that was his excuse.  Rock and roll loves its juvenilia, its caricatures, its cartoons - the protest singer, the gospel singer, the popstar, the sex god, your more mature messiah-types.  We love the extremes, and we're expected to choose.  The mud of the blues or the oxygen of gospel, the hellhound on our trail or the band of angels.  Well, Bob Marley didn't choose or walk down the middle.  He raced to the edges, embracing a oneness - his oneness, One Love.  He wanted everything at the same time, and was everything at the same time: prophet, soul rebel, Rasta-man, herbs-man, wildman, a natural mystic man, lady's man, island man, family man, Rita's man, soccer man, shaman, human, Jamaican.  So - the spirit of Bob, the spirit of Jah lives on in his son, Ziggy, and his lover, Rita Marley.  I'm proud to give them the award; I'm proud to welcome Bob Marley into the Hall of Fame. 


Bob Marley