Not too many of us can say, with all honesty, that we’ve worked closely with actual legends. Sure, we may all be special or gifted within the boundaries of our own individualism, but a select few can count any of the most influential artists as colleagues, fewer still as friends. And inside this very marginalized space of exceptional people, can the majority count themselves as equals amongst those legends? No. But musician and actor Junior Marvin can.
Jamaican born and London raised, Marvin’s interest in music and acting was encouraged early in life. “I grew up in a very musical family,” Marvin says, “so I was always nurtured artistically.” Debuting in The Beatles’ Help! led to several television appearances for the young artist. Marvin later became a member of the London cast of “Hair” and can be heard on the original London recordings. “It was a great run,” Marvin muses. “I was about 16 or 17 years old at the time. The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was my audition piece.” After meeting and joining Bob Marley in 1977, Junior Marvin’s musical dexterity has been enjoyed the world over as a member of the most influential reggae group, Bob Marley & the Wailers. Since the death of Marley in 1981, Marvin went on to release four albums worth of material with the Wailers Band, and continues to this day with a group called One Love.
Earlier this year, Bunny Wailer, along with Marcia Griffiths, threw a celebration in Negril, Jamaica to commemorate the Marley’s birthday. Together, with musicians from several of the Marley sub-groups, a tribute to the life and memory of the late, great icon was born. Due to its success—and coupled with the well-received 2012 documentary, Marley— Marvin decided to take the show on the road.
Marvin’s got two albums full of new material to be released in the upcoming months, as well as a live recording of the Marley tribute Show. “It was such a great atmosphere,” Marvin recalls of the boisterous reception at Washington D.C.’s The Hamilton in September. “We had such a good time, we decided to keep the recording.” He hopes to bring the same energy to The Blockley’s final days, and even mentions local legends and international recording legends Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff in his career timeline. “I have a photo of me standing between Stevie [Wonder] and Bob singing “Jammin’,” Marvin chuckles. “It’s from when we played the first black music convention in Philadelphia for Gamble and Huff. It was a proud moment to be standing on the same stage as those two men at the same time.”
A Tribute to Bob Marley, featuring Junior Marvin and One Love, Sat., Dec. 21. 9pm. $18-$23. With SensaMotion + Cultureal. The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St. 215.222.1234. theblockley.com