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Is this love or luck? A dedicated fan has restored never before heard tapes of Bob Marley & The Wailers from the 70s

A collection of Bob Marley tapes found dissolving in the flooded basement of a London hotel has been resurrected after months of intense and expensive reparation.

The uncovered tapes contain live performances from the UK and Europe tours in the 1970’s that have never been produced, including some of his most famous songs, No Woman No Cry, Jammin, Exodus and I Shot the Sheriff.

Photo by The Guardian
Photo by The Guardian

These never before heard live tapes of Bob Marley and the Wailers had “plasticised gunk oozing from every inch” until they were rescued by a dedicated fan.

According to The Guardian, the concerts were “recorded live on the only mobile 24-track studio vehicle in the UK at the time, loaned out to Marley and the Wailers by the Rolling Stones.”

They were handed to Marley fan and businessman Joe Gatt by a friend who had picked them from the rubbish.

“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 to The Guardian.

Gatt then passed them onto business partner and jazz singer Louis Hoover.

“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. 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,” Hoover said.

£25,000 and “hours on hours, inch by inch, painstakingly cleaning” later, Nichols managed to restore 10 of 13 tapes, two of which were blank but all in “such an appalling condition they should have been binned.”

If it weren’t for the professional quality of the original recordings, they would never have been restored.

Listening to the recordings for the first time, Nichols said “it made the hair on the back of our necks stand up and genuine shivers ran up our spines with joy.”