Bob Marley

Bob Marley

Bob Marley was born February 6, 1945, Marley is probably the most widely known and esteemed performer of reggae music.  He is credited for helping spread Jamaican music to the worldwide audience. We remember the brilliant music Bob Marley gave the world; music that goes back over nearly two decades and still remains timeless and universal. Marley has been named "the first Third World superstar," "Rasta Prophet," "visionary," and" "revolutionary artist." Marley was one of the most charismatic and challenging performers of our time.

Born in the small village of Nine Mile in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, he was  born as Nesta Robert Marley. His father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white Scottish Jamaican. His mother, Cedelia Booker, was a black Jamaican,
18-years-old when they wed. Norval Marley provided financial support for his wife and child, but rarely saw them because he was often away on trips. He died when Marley was 10-years-old of a heart attack. Marley went onto suffer much racial prejudice as a youth because of his mixed racial origins. He even questioned himself at many times. He is quoted as saying:

"I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them 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."

At the age of 14, Bob made the decision to quit school and team up with Joe Higgs, a local singer and devout Rastafarian. He also befriended Neville "Bunny" Livingston (also known as Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later
known as Peter Tosh), who all had similar musical ambitions. In 1963 the three teamed up as "The Wailers". Their first album Catch a Fire was released worldwide in 1973 and sold very well. A year later they released Burnin', which included the monumental hit "I Shot the Sheriff". The Wailers broke up in 1974, but it wasn't the end for Bob Marley.

In Marley's own words, "Reggae music, soul music, rock music - every song is a sign." Marley's own particular symbolism derived from his beliefs as a Rastafarian - a sect that revered Emperor Haile Selassie I of
Ethiopia (a.k.a. Ras Tafari) as a living god who would lead oppressed blacks back to an African homeland - and his firsthand knowledge of the deprivations of the Jamaican ghettos. His lyrics mixed religious mysticism with calls for political uprising, and Marley delivered them in a passionate, unforgettable voice.

Bob Marley continued to make music as "Bob Marley and the Wailers". In 1975, Marley had his first international hit single with "No Woman, No Cry," from the Natty Dread album.

In 1977 Exodus was released, which established Marley's international superstar status. It remained on the British charts for 56 straight weeks, and also got three UK hit singles, "Exodus," "Waiting In
Vain," and "Jamming."

Bob Marley went on to face great trials in his life. In December of 1976, two days before "Smile Jamaica", a free concert prepared by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between two
warring political groups, Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were assaulted and wounded by unknown gunmen inside Marley's home. Although Marley and his wife received serious injuries, they made full recoveries.
The shooting was thought to have been politically motivated, as many felt the concert was really a support rally for Manley. Nonetheless, the concert proceeded, and an injured Marley performed as scheduled, two days after the
attempt. When asked why, Marley responded, the people who are trying to make this world worse aren't taking a day off. How can I?".

In July 1977, Marley was found to have acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma, in a football wound. Marley refused amputation, because of the Rastafari belief that the body must be "whole." True to this belief
Marley refused all surgical possibilities and sought out other means that would not go against his religious beliefs. He also refused to register a will, based on the Rastafari belief that writing a will is acknowledging death as inevitable, thus disregarding the everlasting (or ever living, as Rasta's say) character of life.

The cancer then metastasized to Marley's 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. Marley fought the disease for eight months. The battle, however, proved to be too much. He died in a Miami Hospital on May 11,1981.

A month before the end Bob was awarded Jamaica's Order of Merit, the nations' third highest honor, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the country's culture.

His final words to his son Ziggy were: "Money can't buy life". Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on May 21, 1981. He was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his Gibson Les Paul and a Bible.

Though he died prematurely at age 36, the strong reggae rhythms of Marley's music have endured. Moreover, Jamaica itself has been transformed by his charismatic personality and musical output.