Student Entertainment Enterprises (now Student Entertainment Events) is responsible for organizing and promoting speakers and entertainers at the University of Maryland. In the first few years of its existence, SEE experienced many failed events. In 1980, however, it appeared their luck had changed. They managed to sell nearly every ticket to the Bob Marley and the Wailers concert scheduled for September 25th in Cole Field House. This success was short-lived. While on his American tour, Marley fell ill and complained of exhaustion. He made it through four stops but had to cancel the day before his fifth – the appearance at Cole. SEE was forced to issue 10,000 refunds to ticket holders. Their only hope to survive financially was to reschedule the concert.
Unfortunately, fate intervened again. Marley learned that his exhaustion was a side effect of cancer. Doctors moved him to a cancer research hospital in Germany to undergo chemotherapy. In a January 27, 1981 letter, SEE program advisor Michael Jaworek, realizing the gravity of the diagnosis, appealed to other campus organizations for financial help to defray the costs of the failed concert. The “Act of God” clause included in their contract with Marley prohibited redress, meaning SEE lost the entire amount spent on the event. Eight months after his scheduled appearance at the University of Maryland, Bob Marley died of cancer on May 11, 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Cole Field House was one day short of being the site of one of Marley’s final concerts before his death.
With the help of extra funding provided by the Student Government Association, SEE was able to move forward and has managed to organize many successful events featuring some of the world’s most well known entertainers. To see more information about Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin, Steve Martin, Ozzy Osbourne, and other entertainers invited to campus over the years, check out the Records of Student Entertainment Events in the University Archives!