November 20, 2023
In a 2019 interview with livicated.com, Neville Garrick recalled working on arguably his most famous piece as a graphic designer the cover for Bob Marley and The Wailers’ Rastaman Vibration.
“I was living at 56 Hope Road, Bob’s house at the time. So I went downstairs, I had some images I had shot of Bob. I did a water colour wash of Bob in that militant army jacket an’ stuff, an’ cut it out an’ paste it on a piece of burlap, because burlap was what I was working with at di time, instead of canvas as an artist. Because burlap symbolise sack cloth, the roots of Rasta. Yuh nuh, it’s just simple. Bob came downstairs, pass by my little place an’ I jus’ heard a word sey, ‘A di album cover dat!’ An’ when I looked round, it was Bob an’ he said, ‘Yeah, I like dat,” Garrick related.
The lanky designer died November 14 in Los Angeles, California, from cancer at age 73.
He crafted some of reggae’s most famous album covers, including Babylon by Bus, Exodus, Kaya, and Survival for Marley and The Wailers.
He was also the creative force behind Bunny Wailer’s Blackheart Man, Man in The Hills by Burning Spear, No Nuclear War by Peter Tosh, and Steel Pulse’s Earth Crisis.
In August, Billboard magazine named Rastaman Vibration at #22 in its Best Album Covers of All Time.
A Kingston College past student, Garrick was working as the art director at the fledgling Daily News newspaper in 1974 when he met Marley through his schoolmate Alan “Skill” Cole, the singer’s personal manager.
His first album cover was Mellow Moods by Judy Mowatt. Then came Blackheart Man, but it was Rastaman Vibration that made the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) graduate part of Marley’s inner circle.
Garrick travelled the world with Marley, creating the militant backdrops for his epic live shows. Those included his appearances at the One Love Peace Concert at the National Stadium in April 1978 and Zimbabwe’s independence ceremony in Harare, one year later.
Cole described Garrick as, “Mi bwoy. Wi travel di world an’ do some great works. He was very creative.”
The long-time friends last saw each other in March when Garrick was in Kingston as a consultant on the movie, Bob Marley: One Love, for which scenes were filmed in Trench Town and National Heroes’ Circle.
Following Marley’s death from cancer in May 1981, Garrick became the first president of the Bob Marley Foundation. After visiting Ethiopia, in 1999 he released a photo book, A Rasta’s Pilgrimage: Ethiopian Faces and Places, in 1999.
Last month, Kenneth Neville Anthony Garrick was invested with the Order of Distinction at the rank of Commander by the Jamaican Government for his contribution to the arts to add to his Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence received in 2005.
In 2022, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) presented Garrick with the Gregory Isaacs Foundation Award for Album Design to highlight and celebrate his significant contributions and achievements which have positively impacted the development and promotion of reggae.
Garrick was entrusted with designing an extension of the Bob Marley Museum and served as the very first executive director of the Bob Marley Foundation from 1990 to 1996. He also co-produced the 1992 documentary Time Will Tell, which featured rare insights from Bob Marley.
Other roles played by Garrick included being the leader in lighting and set direction for Reggae Sunsplash.
At the time of his passing, he was working on Colour the Music, a documentary with his son Nesta, chronicling his illustrious career as well as completing a series of hand-painted works of art celebrating black culture.
His daughter, Naomi, reflecting on her father’s passing shared: “Words cannot adequately express the loss that we currently feel as a family… He was a master storyteller, history keeper, poignant artist, author, speaker, proud KC and UCLA graduate and, for us, father, grandpa, “Poppy”, provider, friend. Our hearts are broken as we come to terms with this loss. Neville in his own words ‘coloured the music’ but for us, he coloured our lives.”
He is survived by three children (Christopher, Naomi and Nesta), and grandchildren (Ajani, Leo, and Lola), and his brother Derek, and other family members.
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