Bob Marley Biopic Resurrects Delaware Resident’s Unforgettable Encounters

Legendary reggae artist, Bob Marley, wrote some of his first songs while he was living in Delaware. The release of the 2024 film biography of the esteemed artist, “Bob Marley: One Love,” evoked good memories for Genoveva Pitts, whose husband Ibis had met Rita and Bob Marley when they were living with his mother, Cedella Booker Marley, a block away from his Afrocentric specialty and gift shop.

Meeting Rita first

Ibis Pitts met Rita Marley when she came into his Afrocentric specialty and gift shop in Wilmington in 1968. Rita and Bob were living nearby with Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker Marley. Ibis met Bob Marley, who was just 23 at the time, soon after, but had no idea who he was, and he and Bob Marley would jam “just for fun,” with Ibis on drums and Bob on guitar. Ibis even tried to get Bob to go with him to New York for the legendary 1969 Woodstock concert, where Ibis planned to sell his homemade jewelry, but Bob refused. “He was keeping a very low, low profile,” Ibis said. When Marley’s visa expired in late 1969, Ibis traveled with him to Jamaica. It was his first visit to the island, and Marley took him to the Trenchtown neighborhood, where followers trailed Marley along its dirt roads “like Jesus with his disciples,” Ibis remembered. He found out later that the followers were members of Marley’s soccer team. The visit featured more jamming with Marley and The Wailers.

When Genoveva met Bob

Genoveva Pitts (right) – Facebook

Scenes from the film brought back memories for Genoveva of her first meeting with Marley, which occurred when she and Ibis were living in Santa Monica, California, in the 1970s. When Marley had a five-day residency at The Roxy in Los Angeles, the couple traveled to the Sunset Strip to see the Jamaican artist who had gained considerable fame since they had last seen him. After watching him perform in concert for the first time, the couple stayed with Marley throughout the weekend, and according to Genoveva, this “totally changed my life.” She remembers how she felt upon meeting him: “I had to practically bow to him. His spirit was so different. My heart left my body. When he spoke, I could feel his power penetrate my system. He vibrated. He was speaking to my soul.”

Later visits with Marley

She and Ibis moved back to Wilmington in 1976 and saw Marley in concert several more times when he came back to the area. They also saw other members of the Marley family, including Rita. Genoveva tried to convince Rita and singer Judy Mowatt to include her as a background singer on Bob’s tour. She said she begged them, saying, “’Look, girls, I know the steps! I practice all the time!’” It was a lot of fun,” she remembered. For Genoveva, the joy reflected in the faces of the crowds in the movie’s concert scenes reminded her of his performances at The Roxy. She described these events as being “like a revival.”

Tribute to Bob Marley

Genoveva and Ibis first heard of Marley’s death on the radio, and the news devastated them. From that day on, Ibis kept his hair in dreads as a tribute to his friend. The long-running People’s Festival was also established by the Pitts to commemorate the way Bob Marley’s music touched so many people and inspired them with his message of love, peace, unity, and equality. Ibis said he wanted to honor Marley’s Delaware connections, saying, “I just wanted to do that for him and his legacy.”

Photo – Tuff Gong/Bob Marley: Portrait of the Legend