Bob Marley’s 1975 Ovation 1612-4 Custom Balladeer

This Ovation 1612-4 acoustic guitar Bob Marley received from Chris Blackwell around 1975. Chris is the founder of Island Records, and one of the people who helped Marley achieve early commercial success by advancing the money to The Wailers for their first album. Later on, Chris also worked as a producer on Marley’s Catch A Fire and Uprising albums.

He trusted my instincts, which were that he should go after being a rock star, rather than a star on black American radio. His music was rough and raw and exciting, but all black American music at the time, other than James Brown, was very slick and smooth. Bob trusted me on that, he was as keen as I was.

Chris Blackwell

Marley had the guitar for a few years, but sometime in 1979, he got into a fight with his then-girlfriend Cindy Breakspeare. Cindy is a Canadian-Jamaican jazz singer and Miss World in 1976. and a mother to Damian Marley, the youngest son of Bob Marley.

During the fight, which apparently got physical, Cindy took the guitar and smashed Bob with it. The result was that the headstock was broken, which likely happened after the guitar fell to the floor.

After this, Bob gave the guitar to Benji Levy, who was his personal friend. Benji repaired the headstock crack, and the guitar remained in his family until 2020 when it was put on auction at Julien’s. The winning bid was $153, 600, but the buyer is at this point unknown.

Provenance letter, showing Bob Marley in Brussels on the Exodus Tour in 1977, photographed by Kate Simon


GroundGuitar counts on your criticism and feedback. In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted on this page, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, be sure to leave a comment below.

In case you want to talk to me directly and privately, please use the Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)