Bob Marley -
Reggae Music's Legend

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Robert Nesta Marley, OM, popular known as Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945. He was a dedicated and passionate Jamaican singer, songwriter, guitarist, and political activist.

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Jamaica's own Bob Marley in Nashville 1979

He is the most widely known performer of reggae music, and is famous for popularizing the genre outside Jamaica.

A faithful Rastafari, Bob is regarded by many as a prophet of that religion.

Marley is best known for his reggae songs, which include the hits:

  • "I Shot the Sheriff",
  • "No Woman, No Cry",
  • "Three Little Birds",
  • "Exodus",
  • "Could You Be Loved",
  • "Jammin",
  • "Redemption Song",
  • and "One Love".

His posthumous compilation the album Legend (1984) is the best-selling reggae album ever, with sales of more than 12 million copies.

Bob Marley suffered racial prejudice as a youth, because of his mixed racial origins, and faced questions about his own racial identity throughout his life. He once reflected:

[I don't have prejudice against myself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Dem call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.]

In 1963, Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston, Peter McIntosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith formed a ska and rocksteady group, calling themselves "The Teenagers". They later changed their name to "The Wailing Rudeboys", then to "The Wailing Wailers", and finally to "The Wailers".

The Wailers broke up in 1974 with each of the three main members going on to pursue solo careers. Despite the breakup, Marley continued recording as "Bob Marley & The Wailers".

His new backing band included brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett on drums and bass respectively, Junior Marvin and Al Anderson on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl "Wya" Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin "Seeco" Patterson on percussion.

The "I Threes", consisting of Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley's wife, Rita, provided backing vocals.

In 1975, Bob had his international breakthrough with his first hit outside Jamaica, "No Woman, No Cry" from the Natty Dread album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the US, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which spent four weeks on the Billboard charts Top Ten.

Uprising (1980) was his final studio album, and is one of his most religious productions, including "Redemption Song" and "Forever Loving Jah". It was in "Redemption Song" that Marley sang the famous lyric, "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds…"

In July 1977, Marley was found to have malignant melanoma in a football wound on his right hallux (big toe) but he refused amputation, citing worries that the operation would affect his dancing, as well as the Rastafari belief that the body must be "whole"

The cancer then spread to his brain, lungs, liver, and stomach. After playing two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of his fall 1980 Uprising Tour, he collapsed while jogging in NYC's Central Park. The remainder of the tour was subsequently cancelled.

He played his final concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The live version of "Redemption Song" on Songs of Freedom was recorded at this show. Marley afterwards sought medical help from Munich specialist Josef Issels, but his cancer had already progressed to the terminal stage

While flying home from Germany to Jamaica for his final days, Marley became ill, and landed in Miami for immediate medical attention.

He died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida on the morning of May 11, 1981 at the age of 36. His final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can't buy life."

Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition.

He was buried in a crypt near his birthplace with his Gibson Les Paul, a soccer ball, a marijuana bud, a ring that he wore every day that was given to him by the Prince Asfa Wossen of Ethiopia (eldest son of HIM), and a Bible. A month before his death, he was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit.

Bob Marley's music has continuously grown in popularity in the years since his death, providing a stream of revenue for his estate and affording him a mythical status in 20th century music history. He remains enormously popular and well-known all over the world, particularly so in Africa.

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Bob was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Time magazine chose Bob Marley & The Wailers' Exodus as the greatest album of the 20th century.

In 2001, the same year that Marley was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a feature-length documentary about his life, Rebel Music, was nominated for Best Long Form Music Video documentary at the Grammys.

It won various other awards. With contributions from Rita, the Wailers, and Marley's lovers and children, it also tells much of the story in his own words.(source: wikipedia)

Related Pages

Return to Famous People from Jamaica from Bob Marley
Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from Bob Marley

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