Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Marley for sale as family cash in

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Bob Marley on Top of the Pops
A global chain of Bob Marley-themed One Love cafes is being planned

Bob Marley drinks, luggage, stationery, hotels and video games could soon appear after the late reggae star's family struck a merchandise deal.

"We're open to licensing just about anything," said the late reggae icon's daughter Cedella. But she added: "If it is not right, we will not do it."

The family has teamed up with private equity firm Hilco to capitalise on his name and songs and to stop bootleggers.

A Bob Marley lager and coffee will be among the first items on the market.

Headphones, snowboards, shoes, musical instruments and electronics are on a list of other products that will be developed in a major expansion of Marley's official merchandise range.

Some will bear the music legend's name and image, while others will be tied in to song titles or lyrics from his best-known tunes.

Cover of Three Little Birds by Cedella Marley
Cedella Marley has based a children's book on one of her father's hits

Cedella Marley, the singer's eldest child, has already published a children's book called Three Little Birds, based on the anthem of the same name, known for its refrain of: "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing's gonna be all right."

Three Little Birds could be expanded into a range of children's clothes, shoes and toys, she suggested.

Another plan is to open a global chain of One Love cafes where people can "come, eat good Jamaican food, talk about the music, listen to the music, live bands".

"That's something that we've always wanted to explore," Ms Marley told BBC News. "We're talking [about] all over the world - one in London, one in Asia, one in Amsterdam."

There is already a Bob Marley Resort & Spa in the Bahamas, which could be the springboard for a string of Marley hotels.

Ms Marley said interest in her father was growing, almost 30 years after his death. "The things that dad spoke about are still the things that we all need to fix and work on," she said.

This is a big business for bootleggers - we want to stop some of the nonsense, and make sure the great stuff upholds our standards
Cedella Marley

"Sometimes when you put on his records it's like he's talking about today, right now.

"The message is still about hope and peace and all of us coming together. That's what makes him special. All of us can relate to him."

The family say they hope to avoid over-commercialising the image and music of Marley, an artist with one of the most cherished and enduring legacies in music.

But they want to feed the demand that has spawned a counterfeit merchandise industry worth an estimated $600m (£415m), and keep control of the star's persona.

"This is a big business for bootleggers," said Ms Marley. "We want to stop some of the nonsense, and make sure the great stuff upholds our standards. We're in control."

Asked whether the family had effectively sold a slice of Marley to the private equity firm, his daughter insisted Hilco had become the family's partners to develop and manage the merchandise.

"Nothing has been sold", she said.

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