Bob Marley’s Passion for Food
by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – Bob Marley had several documented passions — music, soccer, women and Rasta. He also loved food.
The reggae king, who died in May, 1981 at age 36, would have turned 78 today (February 6). Whenever he was at home in Jamaica or on tour, he had a cook on call.
One of them was Michael “Mikey Dan” Whyte, Marley’s official tour chef from 1973 to 1976.
Like Marley, Whyte is a member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, one of several Rastafarian organizations that formed in Jamaica. From Kingston, he has lived in New York City since the late 1960s.
In a 2015 interview with this writer, he spoke about his relationship with the singer/songwriter.
“All this came about due to my close association with Alan ‘Skill’ Cole, who had just returned from playing football (soccer) professionally in Brazil. Skill was disciplined and maintained a very structured regimen involving exercise and nutritious foods,” Whyte recalled. “I trained with him and prepared meals together regularly based on his recipes.”
Whyte added that, “Bob was not a vegan. He liked fish, vegetables, grains, fruit juices, nut shakes, Irish Moss blends and various porridges, the type of food that helped him keep properly conditioned. I never saw him eating ice cream or commercial pastry. I know he liked Jamaican-style puddings. A special food we introduced that he and the band liked was broad bean ital with coconut milk, ‘run down’ with vegetables, especially brussels sprouts.”
Whyte’s tenure as Marley’s chef ended in late 1976 following the United States leg of his Rastaman Vibration tour. He was succeeded by Gladstone “Gilly Ras” Gilbert.
A committed member of the ‘Twelve Tribes’, Whyte and Marley remained close until his death from cancer.
“Whenever he came to New York we linked; I even went to other states to check him. When he became ill he stayed for an extended time at (manager) Danny Sims’ penthouse in New York and a hospital in Manhattan,” he said. “During this time, I would visit with him as often as I could. The very last day I saw him was when he was leaving New York to go to Germany for (cancer) treatment. I was with Alan and Roberta Flack. He had lost his hair due to cancer treatment but appeared strong in spirit.”