Behind the scenes

Inside the Big Issue: Bob Marley and me

Dennis Morris witnessed Bob Marley's stratospheric rise. Read all about it – and see his incredible photos – in this week's issue

The cover of this week's Big Issue

In May 1973, just a teenager, Dennis Morris skipped school because Bob Marley and The Wailers were in London to play at famous record industry hangout The Speakeasy. He was determined to get a photograph of his new musical hero. Not only did he do that, Morris was to help turn his hero into a legend.

As a new biopic of Marley is released, we find out what it was like to witness his stratospheric rise. Morris tells us: “I waited and waited and at 3pm, Bob turned up with the rest of the band. I said, ‘Can I take your picture?’”

He was invited inside. And right from the start, the interest was mutual. “They were doing a soundcheck,” Morris recalls. “And between songs, Bob was asking what it was like to be a young Black kid living in London. He was fascinated by me; I was fascinated by him. Then he told me about the tour and asked if I wanted to come along.

“Meeting Bob Marley changed my life and opened so many doors. And what really changed my life was talking to Bob. He was something special. Everything seemed possible. I couldn’t believe the wisdom that was coming from his mouth.”

Over the next few years, as Marley became one of the most famous musicians on the planet, Morris was often with him, taking pictures that would become iconic.

Morris was there when Bob Marley and The Wailers played to 200 people in 2,000 capacity venues across Britain later that year on the Burnin’ Tour – their fame had yet to spread outside West Indian communities. “Bob stepped out every single night as if it was sold out. For him he was building a biblical movement.”

Read more about Marley and Morris, with some of his incredible images in The Big Issue this week.

What else is in this week’s Big Issue?

How the privatisation of care is turning vulnerable kids into ‘commodities’

Foster care is a safety net for children who, for whatever reason, cannot live with their family; a last resort option to protect and support young people with difficult home lives. However, increasingly, carers and young people in the system are becoming investment opportunities for private equity firms to make serious money. A whistleblower has spoken to The Big Issue about their experience.

New drama Breathtaking exposes how Covid ravaged the NHS

Rachel Clarke was one of the doctors we all clapped for and celebrated during lockdown. One of those NHS heroes whose praises were sung by ex-prime minister Boris Johnson and former health secretary Matt Hancock. She was “scarred” by the pandemic – and has written a book charting the early days of the pandemic from the NHS frontline.

Breathtaking is a new ITV drama based on that book. “I cried writing the script. I cried on set. I cried watching it. I just hope NHS workers feel seen,” she says.

Street Soccer Scotland founder David Duke offer’s hope through football

“From 16 to 24 was probably my toughest period in my life,” David Duke tells The Big Issue. “Mum and dad split up when I was 14. Mum moved away with her new partner, and I had to stay and look after my dad. My dad was an alcoholic.”

Duke ended up on the streets. Writing for The Big Issue’s Letter to My Younger Self feature, he explains how he found redemption through football.

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