LONDON, England, Friday February 17, 2017 – A collection of severely damaged Bob Marley tapes, which had lain forgotten for more than four decades in a London hotel basement, has been successfully restored.
The 13 reel-to-reel, analogue master tapes were found more than a year ago in a damp cardboard box in a run-down hotel in north-west London where Marley and the Wailers stayed in the mid-1970s during their European tours.
The Guardian reports that the tapes were originally thought to be beyond repair, largely due to water damage.
But after more than 12 months of meticulous effort using the latest audio techniques, the master reels have been restored, with the sound quality said to be enough to “send shivers down one’s spine.”
The tapes are the original live recordings of Marley’s concerts in London and Paris between 1974 and 1978, and feature some of his most famous tracks including, Jammin, Exodus, I Shot the Sheriff, and No Woman No Cry.
Performed at the Lyceum in London (1975), the Hammersmith Odeon (1976), and the Rainbow, also in London (1977), as well as at the Pavilion de Paris (1978), the concerts were recorded live on the only mobile, 24-track studio vehicle in England at the time, which was on loan from the Rolling Stones.
According to The Guardian, the tapes were salvaged by Marley fan and London businessman Joe Gatt, who had received a call from a friend saying he had found what appeared to be some old Marley tape recordings.
“He was doing a building refuse clearance that included some discarded two-inch tapes from the 1970s. I couldn’t just stand by and let these objects, damaged or not, be destroyed so I asked him not to throw them away,” Gatt said.
He passed the master recordings to business partner and jazz singer Louis Hoover, who initially believed they were too far gone to be restored.
“When I saw the labels and footnotes on the tapes, I could not believe my eyes, but then I saw how severely water-damaged they were,” he said.
“There was literally plasticised gunk oozing from every inch and, in truth, saving the sound quality of the recordings looked like it was going to be a hopeless task.”
Fortunately he was proved wrong, but ownership of “the lost masters” was not immediately clear.