King Kong’s connection with Bob Marley

by Apr 29, 2024News

King Kong's connection with Bob Marley

The first time Dennis “King Kong” Thomas saw Bob Marley, he was a 17 year-old ghetto youth struggling to make ends meet in Jamaica, which was bitterly divided along political lines. It was circa 1979 when he went to 56 Hope Road, the reggae star’s home to deliver a package.

“It was early morning an’ mi si dis Rastaman sit down pon di steps, an’ is like him a hold a meditation. Suh mi neva waan disturb him. Is likkle after dat, a man tell mi sey a Bob Marley,” King Kong recalled.

At the time, he was also a budding artiste from gritty Rose Lane in west Kingston. His first song, ‘Pink Eye’, was released by Marley’s company, Tuff Gong, three years after they first met.

King Kong has an uncredited role in ‘Bob Marley: One Love’, the hit Paramount Pictures movie largely based on two years (1976-78) of the legendary singer/songwriter’s life. He appears as one of the bodyguards to Claudius “Claudie” Massop, a notorious enforcer who was one of Marley’s friends.

While his part in the film is small, King Kong said it was “more than an honour” being in it.

“After mi meet Bob, mi neva lef’ (leave) dat yaad! Mi wash di car dem, rake up di yaad, clean di rehearsal room. Mi used to do everything,” he revealed.

Five years after Marley’s death in 1981, King Kong hit the charts with ‘Trouble Again’, a song produced by Lloyd “King Jammy” James, one of many producers he recorded for during the 1980s. Others being Harry “Harry J” Johnson and Bunny Lee, both of whom had ties to Marley.

In the 1990s, King Kong lived for seven years in the United Kingdom. He spent 16 years in Ethiopia.

Two of his latest songs, ‘Power’ and ‘Tap Up’, are produced by Bobby Konders, a cornerstone of New York City’s dancehall/reggae scene. Back in the day, it was the norm to see King Kong and his contemporaries, who include Little Twitch and Major Worries, pitching their songs at dances, but he has moved with the times.

“Mi nuh really guh dance like one time, wi use social media an’ things like dat now. People can play di chune (tune) dem an’ know what’s going on,” he said.

King Kong is scheduled to perform in Brazil and Italy in August.

(Photo: Beth Lesser)

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