by Howard Campbell
LOS ANGELES – Neville Garrick, who designed some of Bob Marley’s outstanding album art, died in Los Angeles on November 14 at age 73. In a statement, his family gave cancer as the cause of death.
Garrick designed most of the jackets for Marley’s Island Records albums, starting with Rastaman Vibration in 1976. That cover, of Marley in contemplative mood wearing a military jacket, was selected this year as number 22 on Billboard Magazine’s Best Album Covers Of All Time.
In a 2001 interview with Eye Care Magazine, Garrick said his Rastaman Vibration design opened many doors for him.
“After that, if anyone had any input it was Chris (Blackwell, owner of Island Records). Bob usually left it up to him – he felt Chris knew more about marketing. Once Chris said, ‘Yeah, that was great,’ it was easy for me, I didn’t have to go through the Island Records art department and worry about anyone else approving,” he recalled.
Born in Kingston, Garrick attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) where he studied art. Returning to Jamaica in the early 1970s, he became art director at the Daily News newspaper.
He met Marley in 1974 through Alan “Skill” Cole, his classmate at Kingston College in Jamaica. Cole was the singer’s personal manager and encouraged him to give Garrick a chance at designing his merchandise.
In addition to designing covers for Marley albums such as Exodus, Kaya, Babylon by Bus, Confrontation and Survival, Garrick created the backdrops for the Rastafarian artist’s shows.
Neville Garrick was also designer for album covers by Bunny Wailer (Blackheart Man), Peter Tosh (Wanted Dread or Alive), and Burning Spear (Man in the Hills). Plus, Steel Pulse (Earth Crisis and Babylon the Bandit), and Rita Marley (Harambe).
Shortly after Marley’s death in May, 1981, Garrick was made first president of the Bob Marley Foundation. In 1999, his book, A Rasta’s Pilgrimage: Ethiopian Faces and Places, was released.
Garrick was in Kingston last March, acting as a consultant for Bob Marley: One Love, the Paramount Pictures movie about Marley’s rise to international stardom. In August, he was awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth-highest honor.