Just a couple of paragraphs, but weirdly, the LA Weekly now has a whole article about it:
Robinson had a hunch that suburban record buyers were uneasy with Marley’s image – that of a perpetually stoned, politically driven iconoclast associated with violence. So he commissioned London-based researcher Gary Trueman to conduct focus groups with white suburban record buyers in England. Trueman also met with traditional Marley fans to ensure that the label didn’t package the album in a way that would offend his core audience.
Less than a decade before violence and drugs became a selling point for gangsta rap, the suburban groups told Trueman precisely what Robinson suspected: They were put off by the way Marley was portrayed. They weren’t keen on the dope, the religion, the violent undertones or even reggae as a genre. But they loved Marley’s music.
“There was almost this sense of guilt that they hadn’t got a Bob Marley album,” Trueman says. “They couldn’t really understand why they hadn’t bought one.”
In Cowboys… Robinson is quoted as saying he chose a particularly handsome (and non-threatening) photo of Marley for the album cover. Shades of Che…
(PS: I’ll be talking about my hatred of Bob Marley — briefly — in my upcoming PJMedia post.)