Long before photographer Dennis Morris shot our Stronger Knowing More billboard campaign, it was his images of Bob Marley that helped launch his career and became iconic across the world. On the 36th anniversary of the reggae star's death, Dennis describes how they met in 1974 and what made him so special to work with.
Bob was well known in the West Indian community and everyone knew his name and loved his music. I’d heard he was coming for his first tour of England, and I was just 16 and at school in London. One of his gigs was happening close by, at a club called the Speakeasy Club. I went to the club during the day and asked Bob if I could take his picture. He said: "Yeah man, come in". After that, I ended up following him on tour and took photos of him for the next seven years.
It was quite easy work getting natural shots of Bob because we connected so well. My images of him feel full of life even now when I look at them – as he was. At the time, a lot of photographers took posed photos. But my shots of Bob were all taken in the moment, when we were talking to each other. They weren’t staged.
He had a really cheeky expression. It was easy to warm to him and he certainly attracted a lot of female attention! From the moment I met him, I knew he was special. Working with Bob really launched my career as a photographer in the music world. My early images of him ended up making the front cover of NME and Time Out. When I first started out, a lot of people thought I was mad and that I’d never make it as a photographer – especially as a black man. But Bob gave me the confidence to pursue my dream.
Read more about why Dennis is supporting our Stronger Knowing More campaign.