So Much Things to Say by Roger Steffens review – an oral history of Bob Marley

From shiny hair and satin suit to army fatigues with dreadlocks flashing in the night air, the king of reggae’s story, from different perspectives

When Bob Marley died aged 36 in 1981, Island Records hurried to contact Peter Tosh (one of the original Wailers trio) to alert him before the news reached the general public. In the seven years since their acrimonious split Tosh had watched Marley’s spectacular rise. After a pause on the phone, Tosh startled Island’s messenger with his response to his former friend’s death: “Well, perhaps it’ll leave a little room for the rest of us to come through.”

Robert Nesta Marley cast the world of reggae in his shadow. This is the case even more now than at his death – and is reflected in the global industry feeding collections of albums, T-shirts, mugs, musicals and documentaries. It’s a development that might well have stuck in ...