Reggae singer Robert "Bob" Marley won worldwide fame before his death from cancer in 1981 and remains a Jamaican icon. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine rated him #11 in its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Jamaica – Fact Check

The studio that turned away Bob Marley

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jamaica – Fact Check The studio that turned away Bob Marley

Tuff Gong is a music studio and creative space in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica. “Tuff Gong” was Bob Marley’s nickname, itself a tribute to one of the founders of Rastafarianism: Leonard “The Gong” Howell.

Kiki Deere
Kiki Deere Travel Writer

Tuff Gong is where my Jamaican friend Roger spends most of his free time, hanging out with other musicians. They spend entire afternoons rehearsing tracks and trying to catch a break in Jamaica’s ever-more competitive music industry. Hopeful and full of faith, they are fuelled by their love of music.

The studio’s head is Marie Bruce, a welcoming lady who is eager to share her passion for music and her love for the creative arts. “Music is the heartbeat of the country,” she says.

“It is the voice and avenue for the people to express themselves. Jamaicans don’t tend to be the most vocal people when it comes to politics and standing up for their rights, as it’s such a controversial area. But they do express themselves through music on all of those issues.

“Reggae came out of inner city and areas where people struggled. This was an avenue for them to pour out their frustrations, their hopes, and their hurts.

“Bob Marley had a vision of a recording studio and production company and his wife, Mrs Rita Marley, bought this place shortly after he passed away,” she says.

“It was a company called Federal that Bob visited with Johnny Nash to record a song together. They were turned away because he was a Rastafarian. Bob made a pledge that he would one day own it, and Rita made that vision happen.”

Take me there!

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David "Dread" Hinds of reggae band Steel Pulse recording tracks at Tuff Gong Studio. “Tuff Gong” was Bob Marley’s nickname, itself a tribute to one of the founders of Rastafarianism: Leonard "The Gong" Howell. Photo by Anthony Pidgeon / Getty Images

Anthony Pidgeon

Anthony Pidgeon

Agency
Getty Images

David "Dread" Hinds of reggae band Steel Pulse recording tracks at Tuff Gong Studio. “Tuff Gong” was Bob Marley’s nickname, itself a tribute to one of the founders of Rastafarianism: Leonard "The Gong" Howell.

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