On September 19, 1980, Kurtis Blow played Madison Square Garden with Bob Marley and the Commodores. These dates were among the final sold out dates of Bob Marley's Uprising Tour in 1980. Blow performed ‘The Breaks”, the first hip-hop single to go gold, which was also released that same year, to a sold out crowd of Reggae, Rap, and R&B fans.
Kurtis Blow recalls perform in a Stadium — opening up for Bob Marley.
Around an hour & 10 minutes into Ice-T‘s podcast, Kurtis Blow retold the story of him performing at Madison Square Garden in September, 1981. “Here I am, on tour with The Commodores, doin' this '80 Platinum Tour. We did 80 shows, big halls, 20,000 seaters, every show. So we get to go to New York,” explained Blow, who later performed with James Brown. “Mind you, we've been working with Cameo, we've been working with Stephanie Mills, we have all different type groups comin' to join the tour. I'm definitely on every show” Kurtis Blow recalled trying to sell out the show and a promoter telling him, “‘There's a guy, you might not know who he is, but I'ma tell you right now, you put him on the show, you gon' sell out. He's a Reggae guy; his name is Bob Marley.” Kurtis Blow continued, “So they put Bob Marley on the end of the show; we sold out. In just like five minutes, boom, sold out! We had to add two more shows; we had three nights. sold out Madison Square Garden. Kurtis Blow opening, Bob Marley and then The Commodores'
“So here I am, backstage, 20 years old, Madison Square Garden, top of the world. I'm backstage, standing next to Bern Nadette Stanis from ‘Good Times' on my right, and Sarah Dash [of Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells] is on my left. Two cuties. So here we see a crowd of people on our left, in the corridor, a big mass of people moving towards us, slowly, walkin'. The crowd opens up, and a figure comes out, it's Bob Marley! Bob Marley comes up straight to me, sticks out his hand and goes, ‘Kurtis, I like your stuff.' He (Bob Marley) shakes my hand, and goes back into the crowd, and they walk.”
The second night at the Madison Square Garden, September 20, 1980, would be the second to last performance of Bob Marley's life. September 23's show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was Bob Marley's first show. Marley lost a battle to cancer on May 11, 1981.
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Kurtis Blow has numerous of firsts in Hip-Hop.
Read: Kurtis Blow's “The Breaks” was the first hip-hop single to go gold
Read: Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to appear on national television
Read: Kurtis Blow was the first rapper signed to a major label