Bob Marley's Long-Lost Live Recordings Captured at Calgary Studio Unearthed

BY Brock ThiessenPublished May 10, 2019

A series of legendary Bob Marley live recordings thought to be lost for decades have finally been found, and they have a very Canadian connection.

The long-lost recordings were captured by a mobile studio that now resides at Studio Bell in Calgary as part of Canada's National Music Centre.

Before calling Canada home, the studio was owned by the Rolling Stones, who had the mobile facility constructed in 1968 and recorded multiple acts over the years, including Marley. It was later acquired by the National Music Centre in 2001, and following a restoration project, it continues to record artists today.

"This truck was available for hire," Jason Tawkin, manager of building audio at Studio Bell, told CTV. "It was owned by the Rolling Stones but it was also a side business for them. They had invested a significant amount of money into it and they wanted a return on that investment."

The Marley tapes in question were captured live in London and Paris in the '70s, but they were thought to be lost over the years. Recently, though, the 2-inch reel-to-reel 24-track analogue tapes were saved from a London dump and digitally restored. Now, they are set to go on auction later this month.

Among the recovered reels are recordings of Bob Marley and the Wailers in London at the Lyceum in 1975, the Hammersmith Odeon in 1976 and the Rainbow in 1977, in addition to a concert at France's Pavilion de Paris in 1978.

As Tawkin explained, Marley was among many who used the Stones' mobile studio.

"There's lots of stories in the industry of tapes being lost," he said. "I know of one story where Jimi Hendrix left one of the master tapes in a cab in New York City. Where that tape is now? No one knows. These things just fall off the back of the truck, if you will, and the cool thing about tape is that when you do recover it, there's usually a way to recover the content that's within those tapes because of the technology."

The Marley tapes will go on auction via Omega Auctions on May 21.

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