Bob Marley ‘One Love Experience’ celebrates the legacy the reggae legend left behind The Bob Marley "One Love Experience" is a chilled-out celebration of the late great reggae icon.
LOS ANGELES, CA- “Why drink and drive if I can smoke and fly?” Bob Marley once said.
When it comes to art exhibitions and installations of fallen legends, we’re often met with excitement from enthusiasts and criticism from diehards. These exhibitions run the risk of being boring, tiring and trite, as much of what is known about a fallen artist is already out there. Yet, the Bob Marley One Love Experience knows that.
Present for a special 12-week residency at the new Ovation Hollywood (previously Hollywood & Highland), the One Love Experience is an immersive experience that celebrates Marley and lets you dive into his world and the legacies he left behind. The 15,000 square-foot experience features several rooms, such as an immersive One Love Forest with shrubbery, scents, a smoke machine and a giant blunt, to a Soul Shakedown Studio silent disco and a Beautiful Life play room dedicated to Marley’s love of football. His spirit and philosophies live on beyond his time, as this experience provides a new, light-hearted, and very Instagram-friendly take on celebrating the life of the late reggae legend.
Impressively, the experience offers up unseen photos and memorabilia of Marley. It was nice to see photographs and portraits of Marley proudly smoking up a joint in the One Love Forest, to his love of Jamaica and for putting his culture on the map throughout the late ’60s and ’70s. As a plaque read:
The One Love Music Room, full of his impressive collection of Grammy-nominated records and a giant red, green and gold replica of his multiplatinum Legend compilation album, put all of Marley’s feats to shine. There’s an acoustic guitar on display (a 2021 Guild A-20 Marley acoustic guitar made as a replica to Marley’s original) and handwritten lyrics from Marley himself; an award to his 1994 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as some backstage tour passes and itinerary were up for viewing. Yet, it felt a bit odd to view these knickknacks from behind a metal casing. There is little new information to find and a lack of a true immersion into the man himself.
Throughout the Soul Shakedown Studio, we’re given headphones to silently-disco and watch live videos of Marley during his finest concert moments. The effervescent culture of his people and energy were alive and felt during these performances yet, as you walked through and listened to another, you put them down and walked through corridors full of backstage touring crates, mimicking his tour with Bob Marley & the Wailers.
As we enter the Beautiful Life room, Marley’s love of football and table tennis was on display. Most poignantly, the Adidas trainers that Marley wore in the ’70s were displayed, donated by his family, complete with wear, tear and dirt on the soles.
It was clear that Marley loved living a full life with music, friends, football and “the sacred herb.” As an early pioneer and supporter of marijuana, Marley became an icon for music and spirituality, often saying that “smoking herb was a profoundly important part of the Rastafarian religion … and he believed it led him through a spiritual door into a place where his spirit and creativity could flourish.”
Marley, who died at just 36, has been imprinted in music history as a pioneering reggae icon whose life, love and Rastafarian spirit would inspire generations to come. His music paved the way throughout the late ‘60s and ‘70s and put Jamaica on the map; and his philosophies advocating for marijuana and infusing his music with his spirituality sent waves across the globe.
For an “immersive experience,” the idea of spending a day to hang out in Marley’s abyss and wholly encapsulate myself in his experience would’ve been more exciting; yet, for a ticketed exhibit and viewing, it was a nice treat and preview into his life (plus the Marley-inspired cocktails and “herb” to sharing were nice to celebrate Marley).
As I walked around looking at his photographs and memorabilia, I found myself repeatedly saying, “What a beautiful soul, he was.” I especially loved the little quotes and sayings that Marley preached about on the plaques, such as his love of the herb, his Rastafarian religion and community-based approach to music. Yet, most of that was read in-between the lines rather than put on display.
As we reach the tail-end of the exhibit, the Concrete Jungle Street Art displays fan art, such as the impressive wall-length portrait by world famous Mr. Brainwash, who incorporated all of the Island Records album covers into a portrait of Marley. There were great pieces celebrating Marley and his impact on art, culture and youths today with little to no-descriptions, yet provided a nice experience to look at. The neon-lit corridor with lush seats, a bong, lava lamps and psychedelic Bob Marley art on the walls were, yet again, barricaded by a red rope, whereas I would’ve love to take a seat and immerse myself in the neon-lit psychedelia, Marley-style.
The Next Gen room, which featured a One Love Tree, encouraged viewers to write a message of One Love on a card. One read, “Everything with love and intention,” and another, “Kindness is magic,” as Marley famously preached, “Richness is love not money.” The room also honors his widow Rita and the Marley children and grandchildren who have become great performers in their own right (Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Damian and Skip). It also highlights Marley’s passion for justice, sustainability and giving back (The Bob Marley Foundation, Football is Freedom Initiative, Rita Marley Foundation and Ghetto Youths Foundation all had a moment to be celebrated in this room).
The Bob Marley One Love Experience truly celebrates the life and legacy of Bob Marley. We’re given a waft of photos and memorabilia celebrating his love of the herb, alongside multiplatinum records and a play room with fan and family tributes to follow. It made me grow an immense respect for the reggae legend and kind of life he led.
In our dog-eat-dog world, his messages of love, light and community were inspiring, as his “Light up the Darkness” in the One Love Forest was my favorite installation. Rather than being an instructive and immersive experience, the show focuses on celebrating the joy that Marley’s music brings. The experience will leave you with a more intimate understanding of Marley’s world and life views, perhaps reflecting upon your own legacy and impact in this world.
Whether you’re a hardcore devotee or casual listener, there’s much to enjoy with an open mind.
“One love, one heart, one destiny,” as Marley said.
The Bob Marley One Love Experience is at Ovation Hollywood until April 2023. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS.
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