This Inner Sleeve album-sleeve, written around 1972, recently turned up.
UPDATED January 27 2017

 Bob Marley & Johnny Nash: memories from 44 years ago

Some time ago, a lady in England tweeted me and asked if I was the author of The Inner Sleeve, a printed record sleeve that promoted CBS and Epic bands and artists. The Inner Sleeve was the name I gave to the paper record-sleeve enclosing our long-playing records. It sat inside the cardboard record covers, in Britain in the early 1970s, in the days before plastic inner sleeves. I replied that I was and heard no more about it.

Then, lo and behold, an antique inner sleeve with my name on it turned up in a record shop in Melbourne, Australia, where, due to my own antiquity, I’m lucky enough to make my escape from the freezing English winter. It was found by a friend of my son’s who, like many of today’s younger music buyers, is into vinyl. He recognised the name and lent it it to me to scan. What stirring memories it brought back.
A great guy. Johnny Nash as I remember him

Above my byline is a piece I wrote about Johnny Nash. He was an American signed to CBS UK. A really friendly and popular guy, Johnny caused great celebration in the office when he hit number one on the American singles chart in 1972, with I Can See Clearly Now.This was a reggae track, written and sung by Nash, where he was backed on the record by a top Jamaican reggae band, the Fabulous Five Inc. I Can See Clearly Now was later covered by Jimmy Cliff, some 20 years later in 1993. Today, many people seem to think it’s Jimmy’s song, even though Johnny wrote it and had the bigger hit.

Bob Marley’s hair had grown a lot when this pic was taken

How Steer It Up beat the censors

Another reggae or rock-steady hit Johnny Nash recorded that year was Stir It Up, written by Bob Marley. The actual lyrics sung on Stir It Up were “Steer it up” but nobody – in those days of censorship – seemed to cotton-on to that. Titling the track Stir It Up was obviously a way to circumvent the BBC morals police and get decent air play. This was Bob’s first song-writing hit outside of Jamaica and his launch pad to fame.
Johnny Nash had brought Bob Marley over to London from Jamaica and took him everywhere. I once arranged an interview with Johnny Nash in a Fleet Street Golden Egg café with my friend Martin Hayman from Sounds magazine. Bob Marley came along and sat beside me as the interview took place. In those days, Bob had cropped hair and often wore a crew neck jumper – so different from his later image. I also travelled down to Brighton in 1972 with Bob Marley on the last journey of the Brighton Belle, a famous London to Brighton commuter train.
A souvenir from the Brighton Belle’s final journey


Bob and I were amongst the few people on the train who weren’t well known celebrities. Boy, how that would change – for Bob. And would you believe it, I even have a memento of that trip – a branded bottle of champagne presented to everyone who made the journey. I’ve taken the liberty of photographing it for you. (It’s on a plastic bag to stop it rolling around in case you’re wondering.) I wonder if Bob kept his.


Another memory of Johnny Nash and Bob Marley was going to a black nightclub in Streatham, South London, Mr. B’s, where Bob and the Wailers played a very early UK gig. I was the only white guy in the joint which provoked some hostile stares on entry, I can tell you. When everyone realised I was with Johnny, Bob and Danny Simms, things relaxed.
Johnny Nash left, and Bob Marley, performing for school kids

To show what great guys they were, Nash and Marley also did a tour of South London schools around this time, playing to the pupils, for free. I found these memorable photographs above on the website:

On there site, a guy calling himself Laird Ken (Ken Laird?) had written:

“I was there, at Peckham Manor School to see Nash and Marley. WE had no idea who Marley was but we all knew Nash. Nash went off at the break for drinkies with the staff and Marley played football with us. Must have been 71 or 72. I was a mere chav of about 14 or 15. It was held at the “Technical Wing” of P.M. (Peckham Manor) school.”


Bob Marley played football (soccer) with the kids in the playground
For the benefit of Americans reading,The Oxford English Dictionary, defines ‘chav’ as an informal British derogatory (term), meaning “a young lower-class person who displays brash and loutish behaviour and wears real or imitation designer clothes (ie: Burberry). That’s my bit in brackets.
I better stop now or I could go waxing on down memory lane for ever. I also see my old acquaintance Cliff Williams is featured on my Inner Sleeve story about a UK band called Home. Cliff’s star turn on stage with Home was playing his bass guitar with a viola bow.
Cliff went on, of course, to play bass for AC/DC. And I, far more humbly, went on to write a book on the untold story of the origins of the blues, which I hope you will buy and recommend to your friends. After all, blues gave us jazz, rock and pop; and, as an art form, simply doesn’t get the recognition it should.
You can order America’s Gift in print or take a free preview here

America's Gift Book Cover-4eBook versions are also available on Amazon under the titles How Blues Evolved Volumes One and Two, for those who like to read on their phone, ipad or kindle.