In 1976, Jamaican was reeling from political violence during the election. The supporters of the Jamaican Labor Party JLP and the People National Party PNP were clashing in the streets of Kingston resembling a war zone. Food supplies were running short, loss of power were common place and weapons had flooded the island and no-go areas had been established.
The CIA backed the JLP and the PNP drew support from Cuba and Russia. Both parties wanted the support of Bob Marley and the artistic gravitas he carried. Bob wanted to remain neutral and non-political and had arranged the Smile Jamaica concert to bring the island together. However, the incumbent PNP moved the election date to coincide with the concert, thus trying to make it into a rally for the government. This drew the ire of Bob and he was forced to have a plain-clothed police detail was stationed outside the house on Hope Road as danger was ever present. Bob was not to be deterred and pressed on with the preparations for the concert. On December 03 he had a rehearsal with The Wailers working on the set list.
As Rita Marley left the house in her Volkswagen, she stopped to let another vehicle enter the compound through the gate that had been left unmanned. Gunshots rang out from the entering car and the bullet glanced across Rita’s scalp. The two gunmen made their way to the galley kitchen where they they opened fire with two automatic weapons. The band and family members threw themselves out of the line of fire; some managed to escape the building, other were tangled in leads but scrambled their way to the safety of the bathroom as bullets tore drummer Carly Barrett’s stool apart.
As they fired on Bob, he turned to make himself a smaller target and at the same time his manager Don Taylor walked into the kitchen and the fire-line and absorbed most of the shots. One bullet grazed Bob’s chest and lodged itself in his arm where it stayed until his death in 1981. The doctors told him that were he to have it removed, it might damage the use of his fingers.
Neville Garrick speaks of the night of the assassination attempt.
Only Don Taylor was seriously injured before the gunmen sped off in the direction of the JLP headquarters in Tivoli Gardens. Two days later Bob, despite his injuries, stepped onto stage for the Smile Jamaica Concert at National Heroes Park in Kingston. He had agreed to perform one song for the 80,000 people in attendance, but it turned into a whole 90-minute performance.
In 2018, Netflix released ReMastered: Who Shot the Sheriff detailing the events of the assassination attempt on Bob.