Legends – Bob Marley, Adam Yauch and Jack Kerouac

This week MCA from the Beastie Boys died. This week I watched the Bob Marley movie. This week I re-watched our documentary about Jack Kerouac. This week I have been thinking a lot about Legends. Hope you enjoy my post and my props to three of my heros.  (You can watch our Kerouac documentary at the bottom of this blog, its an oldie, but still lots of fun to watch!)

Bob Marley died May 11th, 1981 at the age of 36. I was four years old. I just watched the new Kevin MacDonald film about Bob’s life and death. The film is called “Marley” and it was power.

The man lived a life of love and made music that makes my heart smile. Bob’s music is holy to me, and his message of unity and respect parallels my foundation. The one word that I use most in my personal life and business interactions is the word RESPECT. Living a life centered on respect and gratitude equals a blessed life. Bob was a freedom fighter without violence, he was a peaceful warrior and he has influenced me more than any other pop culture icon. I have seen his sons Ziggy, Damian and Stephen play different live shows in the past, I have also been fortunate enough to see the Wailers play as well, but I never had a chance to see Bob. Bob is ageless and will always be alive with us through his music and his message. Bob is legend.


Adam Yauch, also known as MCA from the Beastie Boys just died on Friday, May 4th at the age of 47. The Beastie Boys formed in 1979, I was two years old. I remember my brother Mark Hemmings bringing the License to Ill tape into my room in 1985 telling me that I had to hear this rap band that was made up of three white guys…something unheard of in the early days of hip hop. I remember the first B-Boys lyrics I heard, “I did it like this, I did it like that, I did it with a whiffle ball bat…” My best friend Mike and I would listen to that album non stop. Back in those days my ghetto blaster had a steady rotation of Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, and the Beasties. Adam has been a legend in my mind since the day I first heard that tape.  What sort of legend will he be to kids who are too young now to have heard the Beastie Boys? When they are old enough to hear MCA  rapping “Girls” are they going to think about him as a legend in an age far long passed by? I think that about Bob Marley, even though I was alive for the last four years of Bob’s life I wasn’t touched by his music until my twenties. By that time he was long gone, engraved into history as true legend. But when I see his family members, and his x-band mates play in the flesh I am reminded that Bob was with us not that long ago, and yes…he was just a guy. He was an amazing guy with vision, discipline and faith, and now he has inspired millions of people to live one love. Adam Yauch, like Bob Marley, is legend.

The closest to a legend I have ever been able to step into is the life of those close to Jack Kerouac. Jack created legend via his words and his inspired adventures. Despite a sad and troubled soul, Jack’s writings inspired millions of people to live free. I know I am not alone when I say that the book “On the Road” was foundational in my trajectory. My good friend and folk singer/songwriter Brent Mason and I travelled to Lowell Massachusetts, Jack’s birth place, to film a documentary for CBC called “Grave Concerns.” We visited Jack’s home where he was born, the school and library where he built his love for words, the diner he ate at and the pub he drank his liquids, and ultimately we ended up at Jack’s grave to pay our respects. Here is a link to a Postcard I wrote for the Telegraph Journal about going to Jack’s birth home.

One of the most significant interviews we had was with Jack’s good friend and bodyguard Billy Koumantzelis.  Billy invited us into his living room and told us all the stories of Jack, as if we had known him for years. Billy in fact is featured on a spoken word CD called “On the Lowell Beat: My Times with Jack Kerouac”. The CD is a compilation of Billy’s memories of Jack. (You can get this CD HERE.)

Why did I write this post? I think it’s because I ponder often the question -what makes legend? Is it our work? Is it our actions? Our Love? Legend is a heightened attractiveness of relationships. Legend is created by the telling, sharing and perpetuation stories. Stories are music, art, words, dance, sport…film!

Brent and I had the honour to see the actual manuscript that Jack Kerouac wrote for On the Road. That string of taped-together 8.5”X 11” type paper is truly the most legendary and influential collection of words that I have ever witnessed. We made a film about it. Hope you enjoy! Please share this film, we made it quite a few years ago now, but that’s what building legend is all about. Being able to participate in the perpetuation of Kerouac’s legacy of Kerouac is one small sliver of Brent and my legend.

Grave Concerns

My next blog will explore deeper the notion of relationships being the apex of legend.

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6 Responses to Legends – Bob Marley, Adam Yauch and Jack Kerouac

  1. avsax says:

    Just watched the Kerouac flic and loved it! I’m just reading “And the Hippos Were Boiled In their Tanks” – can’t put it down!

    Keep the wheel turning!

    Dave Milton

  2. JHaeske says:

    Good post, I just watched the film – a neat little piece of work with some new insights.

  3. Bob McC says:

    Yo, nice Kerouac video-vignette! Blush…I had no awareness that I was going “On the Road” from LowellLand in ’58 when I went off to college in CA…albeit I was ‘weird’ in the eyes of others for not ‘staying home’ like most folks did in that era by going to BC/BU/Dartmouth/Bowdoin/Haahvad/etc. (Theya must be something in that watah of The Merrimack Rivah!!) I never read Jack till the ’00s!!! Saving my face less than 20 years later however was a cousin I’d never met who got “On Jack’s Road” by hitchhiking and stopped to say ‘Hi’ to me on Route 66 in Albuquerque, NM….i.e. a real ‘Kerouac-head’.
    My reason for Commenting however is that I wanted to note ya missed a major(?) iconic(?) reference place that you will now have an excuse to return to make an addendum to your video….The Grotto of Franco-American Orphanage (now school) – that fearsome place his Mom would drag him to in Dr. Sax!!!! E.g. http://tinyurl.com/97wmnue Just your luck, this year, ’12, is the 100th anniversary of the Grotto and a celebration will occur on Oct. 13th to showcase the completion of the costly restoration of those (Italian) Stations of the Cross. Who knows, you may even run into Dylan http://www.francoamericanschool.org/id47.html . At the least you did stand where he and Ginsberg did http://www.richardhowe.com/tag/allen-ginsberg/
    Village of Los Ranchos, NM

    • Bob! So great to read your post!!!! Thanks so much as well for the extra “Dr. Sax” info! Wow, what a life he led eh? We had such a great time filming in Lowell and connecting with so many of Jack’s personal friends and places. Thanks again for the post Bob! More to come!!!

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