Bob Marley


Members: Bob Marley

Active: 1963 - 1981


Robert Nesta Marley, OM, (February 6, 1945 - May 11, 1981) better known as Bob Marley, was a Jamaican singer, guitarist, songwriter and activist. He is the most widely known reggae musician of all time, famous for popularising the genre outside of Jamaica. Much of his work deals with the struggles of the impoverished and/or powerless. Bob Marley is also renowned for the way in which he spread faith through his music.

He was the husband of Rita Anderson Marley, who regularly performed with Bob Marley as a member of his back-up singers the I Threes. She had 4 of his 9 acknowledged children, including David Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley who together continue their father's musical legacy in their band the Melody Makers. Another of his sons, Damian Marley (aka "Jr Gong"), has also started a career in music.


Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in Nine Miles, Saint Ann Jamaica to Norval Marley, a Jamaican-born white plantation overseer of Welsh descent, and Cedella Booker, a black teenager from the north country. Cedella and Norval were to be married on June 9th, 1944. Approximately a week before the wedding, however, Norval informed Cedella that his chronic hernia had begun to trouble him and as a result he would be changing jobs and moving to Kingston. Norval never really knew his son because of the white upper class' disdain for mixed race relationships.


Marley started his musical experimentation in ska and gravitated towards reggae as the music evolved, playing, teaching and singing for a long period in the 1970s and 1980s. Marley's early music career was with the ska, rocksteady and reggae group "The Wailers", which included two other celebrated reggae musicians, Bunny Livingston (Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (Peter Tosh), both who later left the group and went on to become successful solo artists. After The Wailers broke up 1974, Marley went on with "Bob Marley & The Wailers" with the I Threes as backing vocalists. Today, Bob Marley, The Wailers, and Bob Marley & the Wailers are often used to refer to recordings actually made by separate entities.

Much of Marley's early work was produced by Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. That relationship later deteriorated due to financial pressure, and in the early 1970s he produced what is believed by many to be his finest work with Lee "Scratch" Perry. This pair also split apart, this time over the assignment of recording rights. They did work together again in London, though, and remained friends until Marley's death.

Marley's work was largely responsible for the mainstream cultural acceptance of reggae music outside of Jamaica. He signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records label in 1971, at the time a highly influential and innovative label. Island Records boasted a retinue of successful and diverse artists including Free, John Martyn and Nick Drake. Though many people believe that Blackwell interfered with what Marley wanted to do with his own music, others think that the knowledge this producer brought to the scene was critical in Marley's wish to bring reggae to the world. It was his 1975 hit No Woman, No Cry that first gained him fame on a wider level.


In 1976, just two days before a scheduled free concert that Marley and the then Jamaican PM Michael Manley had organized in the run up to the general election, Marley, his wife Rita, and manager Don Taylor, were shot inside the star's 56 Hope Road home. Marley received minor injuries in the arm and chest. Don Taylor took most of the bullets in his legs and torso as he accidentally walked in the line of fire. He was in a serious condition after he was rushed to the hospital, but fully recovered later. Rita also recovered from the shot to the head she received that night.

It is generally believed that the shooting was politically motivated, due to Jamaican politics being somewhat violent at the time, especially so close to election day. The concert was seen as being in support of the progressive prime minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley. It is widely held that he was shot by supporters of the conservative political party of Jamaica, the Jamaica Labour Party. However, there is little evidence to support this. Though the police never caught the gunmen, Marley devotees claimed to have later "caught up" with them on the streets of Kingston.


Rastaman Vibration made big waves in the US charts on its release. The success got reggae and Marley more mileage besides a recognition for his peace efforts. "War" brought the message of Haile Selassie loud and clear to the young generation.

Bob Marley left Jamaica at the end of 1976, and went to England, where he recorded both Exodus and Kaya, and where he was famously arrested for possession of a joint of marijuana. He released "Africa Unite" on the Survival album in 1979, and was then invited to perform at the Zimbabwe Independence Day celebrations on April 17, 1980.

Stevie Wonder in the album Hotter than July paid a rich tribute to Bob Marley with the hit track "Master Blaster (Jammin)".


In July 1977, Marley was found to have a wound on his right big toe, which he thought was from a football injury. The wound would not completely heal, and his toenail later fell off during a soccer game. It was then that the correct diagnosis was made. Marley actually had a form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, which grew under his toenail.

Marley was advised to get his toe amputated, but he refused because of his Rastafarian beliefs that the body must be whole, that to have an amputation would be a sin, that his faith would ensure him living forever regardless of the cancer and because he saw doctors as samfai, confidence men who cheat the gullible by pretending to have the power of witchcraft. He also was concerned about the impact the operation would have on his dancing; amputation would profoundly affect his career at a time when greater success was close at hand. Still, Marley based this refusal on his Rastafarian beliefs, saying, "Rasta no abide amputation. I don't allow a mon ta be dismantled." (Catch a Fire, Timothy White) He did have surgery to try to excise the cancer cells. The cancer was kept secret from the wider public.


The cancer spread to his brain, his lungs and his stomach. During a tour in the summer of 1980, while trying to break into the US market, he collapsed jogging in NYC's Central Park. This was after a series of shows in England and at Madison Square Garden. The illness made him unable to continue with the large tour that was planned. Marley sought help, and decided to go to Munich in order to receive treatment from controversial cancer specialist Josef Issels for several months, but it was to no avail.


Months before his death he was baptised into the Coptic Orthodox Church and took the name Berhane Selassie (meaning the Light of the Holy Trinity in Coptic). Then a month before his death, he was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit. He wanted to spend his final days in Jamaica but he became too ill on the flight home from Germany and had to land in Miami. He passed away at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida on May 11, 1981. His funeral in Jamaica was a dignified affair with combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari. He is buried in a crypt at Nine Miles, near his birthplace, with his Gibson guitar, a bud of marijuana and a Bible.


Bob Marley's music and legend have gone from strength to strength in the years since his early death and continue to produce a huge stream of revenue for his estate, while also bringing him a nearly mythic status in music history similar to that of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Bob Dylan. He remains enormously popular and well known all over the world, and particularly so in Africa. In 1993, Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Time magazine chose Marley and the Wailers' album "Exodus" as the greatest album of the 20th century.


In January 2005, it was reported that Rita Marley was planning to have her late husband's remains exhumed and reburied in Shashamane, Ethiopia.[1] In announcing the decision to move Marley's remains to Ethiopia, Rita Marley said: "Bob's whole life is about Africa, it is not Jamaica." There was a great deal of resistance to this proposal in Jamaica. The birthday celebrations for what would have been his 60th birthday on February 6th 2005 were celebrated in Shashamane for the first time, having previously always been held in Jamaica.


1976 - Band of the Year (Rolling Stone)
June 1978 - Awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations
February 1981 - Awarded Jamaica's third highest honor, the Order of Merit
1999 - Album of the Century (Time Magazine) for Exodus)
February 2001 - A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
February 2001 - Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award


The Wailing Wailers 1966 Studio One
The Best of the Wailers 1970 Beverley's
Soul Rebels 1970 Upsetter/Trojan
Soul Revolution 1971 Upsetter/Trojan
Soul Revolution Part II 1971 Upsetter/Trojan
African Herbsman 1973 Upsetter/Trojan
Rasta Revolution 1974 Upsetter/Trojan
Catch a Fire 1973 Island/Tuff Gong
Burnin' 1973 Island/Tuff Gong
Natty Dread 1974 Island/Tuff Gong
Rastaman Vibration 1976 Island/Tuff Gong
Exodus 1977 Island/Tuff Gong
Kaya 1978 Island/Tuff Gong
Survival 1979 Island/Tuff Gong
Uprising 1980 Island/Tuff Gong
Confrontation (posthumous) 1983


Live! 1975 Island/Tuff Gong
Babylon by Bus 1978 Island/Tuff Gong
Talkin' Blues (recorded in 1973) 1991 Island/Tuff Gong
Live at the Roxy (recorded in 1976) 2003


Legend 1984 Island/Tuff Gong
Reggae Greats 1984 Island/Tuff Gong
Rebel Music 1986 Island/Tuff Gong
Songs of Freedom 1992 Island/Tuff Gong
Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On 1995 Island/Tuff Gong
Bob Marley: Reggae Legend 1999 St. Clair
One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers 2001 Island/Tuff Gong
Bob Marley and The Wailers: Trenchtown Rock (Anthology '69 - '78) 2002 Trojan Records
Gold 2005 Island/Tuff Gong
Africa Unite: The Singles Collection 2005 Island/Tuff Gong

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Submitted by OptimusPrime at Mon 22 May, 2006 7:39 am


Last updated by keeskees at Wed 16 Dec, 2015 9:59 am

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