The Essex House Hotel is a luxury hotel located on 160 Central Park South in Manhattan. It was a favorite of Bob Marley’s when staying in New York, as he stayed there for extended periods in 978 and 1980.
Opened in 1931as the Sevilla Towers, it is situated across the street from the southern border of Central Park and is convenient to both the stylish shops on Fifth Avenue and the nightlife of both Broadway and the Upper West Side. The 44-story hotel has 509 Art Deco style rooms and an in-house spa, and it is immediately recognizable by its original red neon rooftop sign.
Here are some interesting pop culture facts about the Essex House Hotel:
- In the famous 1932 photograph “Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper,” the neon Essex House sign can be seen in the background.
- Milton Berle’s mother, Sarah, died in her apartment at the Essex House on May 30, 1954. The famous Russian composer Igor Stravinsky lived there from the autumn of 1969 until his death on April 6, 1971.
- On January 13, 1979, R&B singer Donny Hathaway was found dead on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, after an apparent suicide leap from the 15th floor room in which he had been living.
- The Essex House is known for its relationship with the American television program Saturday Night Live. In the early years of the show, announcer Don Pardo would proclaim that “guests of Saturday Night Live stay at the Essex House!”
I actually stayed at the Essex House Hotel in 2001. I was in NYC corking the World Trade Center disaster clean-up and the hotel, which was owned by Westin Hotels at the time, put me up for free while I was in town.
Several interviews were conducted with Bob Marley at the Essex House. By the late seventies, Bob’s status was such that reporters had to come to him if they wanted an interview. Logically, since he often stayed there, several well-known interviews were conducted with him in his hotel room, where he often sat alone and played guitar.
The Basil Wilson Interview
This interview with Bob was conducted at the Essex House in NYC by Basil Wilson in May 1978. The interview was first published in Everybody’s Magazine in June/July 1978. Give thanks to my friend Marco Virgona of www.bobmarleymagazine.com for sharing!
The Earl Chin Interview
September 2, 1980
Marley reluctantly participated in an interview and acoustic jam session with Earl Chin of Rockers TV on September 2, 1980. I say ‘reluctantly’ because chin was allegedly heavily involved in the cocaine trade, something that Marley despised. It has been said, but never confirmed, that there was heavy cocaine use going on in the room during this interview. I find this hard to believe knowing how Marley purportedly viewed the use of hard drugs, however, stranger things have happened.
I have included the full interview and acoustic session (45 minute video) here:
The Anita Waters Interview
September 18, 1980
At the time of this interview in September 1980, Anita Waters was a graduate student in sociology at Columbia University in New York City. Bob Marley and the Wailers were in town playing several opening shows for The Commodores national tour. As you may know, it would be Marley’s last tour as his body was now wrecked by cancer.
The Gil Noble Interview
Gil Noble conducted an interview with Bob Marley at the Essex House for his television show “Like It Is.” Gil Noble was an American television reporter and interviewer. He was the producer and host of New York City television station WABC-TV’s weekly, “Like It Is”. The program focused primarily on issues concerning African Americans and those within the African Diaspora.
This is one of the most in-depth and detailed interviews that Marley participated in, lasting a little under 30 minutes.
The video footage of the interview has been shared in bits and pieces on the web. I have included it here in its entirety. This has seen a significant upgrade since it first started circulating. Enjoy!
Bob Marley on “Like It Is” with Gil Noble