Bob Marley Ignites The Apollo In Harlem With Live Reggae Revolution, 1979 (Video)

June 13, 2024

By Harlem World Magazine

From October 25th through the 28th, 1979, the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem bore witness to a series of groundbreaking performances.

The performances that would forever etch their place in music history.

Over four electrifying days, Bob Marley and The Wailers took to the iconic stage, marking the first time the powerful sounds of reggae resonated within the hallowed walls of the Apollo.

From October 25th through the 28th, 1979, Marley and his band delivered seven unforgettable shows, captivating audiences with their unique blend of socially conscious lyrics and infectious rhythms.

With Bob Marley during this pre-Apollo Interview in 1979

This residency not only added to Apollo’s rich cultural tapestry but also forged a profound connection between Marley and the spirit of Harlem’s own Marcus Garvey.

The Apollo shows were the third stop on Marley’s Survival tour, which had kicked off in Boston and made its way to Madison Square Garden before arriving in Harlem.


The album “Survival” itself was a powerful statement, featuring anthems like “Africa Unite” and “Zimbabwe,” celebrating the fall of Rhodesia’s white supremacist regime.

As Jamaican student Clinton Lindsay reported for his college newspaper, the Apollo audiences were a vibrant mix of African Americans, West Indians, and whites, all united in their appreciation for Marley’s message of unity and empowerment.

“Harlem was deeply rooted in his reverence for Marcus Garvey …”

Marley’s decision to perform in Harlem was deeply rooted in his reverence for Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born writer and speaker who championed the Pan-African movement and inspired generations of Rastafarians.

During the shows, Marley performed against backdrops depicting the Ethiopian flag, Emperor Haile Selassie I, and Garvey himself, surrounded by guerilla fighters.

With impassioned vocals and a commanding stage presence, Marley and his band delivered a setlist that included classics like “Natural Mystic,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and “Jamming,” as well as powerful anthems like “Zimbabwe” and “War.”

The energy in the Harlem Apollo was electric, with audiences quickly warming up and reciprocating the energy back to the stage.

These historic performances would be among Marley’s last in New York, as his battle with cancer tragically cut his life short just a year later.

“… reverberate through Harlem and the world of music.”

However, his legacy and the impact of those Apollo shows continue to reverberate through Harlem and the world of music.

Here are two amazing but different videos from the performance at the Apollo Theater one on the 25th of October in 1979 as the host talks about the shooting of Malcolm X and more:

Two days later here are the Bob Marley and the Wailers on October 26th and 27th, rocking the crowd at the Apollo Theatre, Harlem, New York:

Bob Marley, 1979-10-25, Live At Apollo Theatre, Harlem, New York, Late Show
Bob Marley, 1979-10-26/27, Live At Apollo Theatre, Harlem, New York

In 2015, the Apollo paid tribute to Marley with the “One Love! A Tribute to Bob Marley” celebration, commemorating the 35th anniversary of his groundbreaking residency. It was a fitting homage to a true revolutionary who forever changed the face of music and left an indelible mark on the cultural fabric of Harlem.

Photo credit: 1) Legendary Raggae. 2) Bob Marley Apollo Interview 1979. 3) Bob Marley, 1979-10-25, Live At Apollo Theatre, Harlem, NY, Late Show. 4) Bob Marley, 1979-10-26/27, Live At Apollo Theatre, Harlem, NY.


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