On the way up in the hotel elevator I fingered my notebook nervously and prayed I'd put the new batteries into my tape recorder correctly. I was young and nervous but prepared as I exited the elevator and was guided by a publicist to a penthouse suite. There were lots of people coming and going ― record company staff, Rastas, beautiful women. But sitting calmly in the center of the room, curled up barefoot in a chair, occasionally strumming a guitar, was the most relaxed person in the room.
Robert Nesta Marley greeted me cordially as I sat across from him with my notes and my tape recorder. In my growing career as a music journalist I'd already interviewed some major stars, but no one as relaxed, down to earth and quietly beatific as the reggae star. He was in the middle of an unusual tour, sharing the stage with the Commodores and, at Madison Square Garden, with opening act Kurtis Blow. Marley had already headlined many American arenas by himself, but he'd decided to open for Lionel Richie and the band in an attempt to bridge the gap between reggae and mainstream black music.