As yesterday marked the 74th Posthumous birthday of the world renowned Reggae Maestro—BOB NESTA MARLEY.
It is befitting to remember him and his work of music and art by having a brief look at his life and time when alive.
I hereby present to all my viewers, readers and followers a brief biography of the Reggae Maestro who died on the 11th of May 1981 after battling with the terminal diseases called CANCER.
It goes thus:
Bob Marley: the life and legacy of the reggae legend
Who doesn’t know Bob Marley? Who has never heard songs such as ‘No Woman No Cry’ or ‘Is This Love?’ Bob Marley is a worldwide music phenomenon to this day.
The king of reggae’s life wasn’t easy, but one thing is certain: Bob Marley lives on through his music, as well as in his messages on the Rastafarian faith.
Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, was born on February 6, 1945, in Nine Mile, a district in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica.
Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer, guitarist, and composer. He is the best-known reggae musician of all time, famous for popularizing the genre.
Son of Norval Sinclair Marley, a white military man, and Cedella Booker, a black teenager from the north of the country.
Marley’s father left his mother soon after his birth, and died when Marley was only ten years old.
After his father’s death in 1955, his mother had a relationship with Thadeus Livingston and moved with Bob Marley to Trenchtown, Kingston’s largest and most deprived neighborhood.
In Trenchtown, Bob Marley was bullied and rejected by the local black community for being of mixed race and of short stature.
Bob Marley had a strong connection to music since he was a young boy. He and his friend Bunny built guitars made of tin, and listened to the hit songs coming out of the US, particularly from New Orleans.
They listened to Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Brook Benton (one of Bob Marley’s favorites), and groups like The Drifters, which were very popular in Jamaica.
Independence of Jamaica
Jamaica’s independence from the British empire in 1962 helped in the development of original Jamaican music.
When Bob Marley left school at age 14, he seemed to have only one ambition: music. But to please his mother, who feared he would become a rude boy (what the young delinquents of Jamaica were known as), he got a job as a welder.
In 1962 Bob Marley composed and published some of his first recordings, ‘Judge Not’ being the first one. However, the songs didn’t get radio airtime and attracted little public attention, but they confirmed Marley’s ambition to become a singer.
In the following year, Bob Marley put a band together. He teamed up with his friends Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh to form The Wailing Wailers.
The Wailing Wailers released their first single, ‘Simmer Down’ at the end of 1963. As early as January of the following year it was number one in the Jamaican charts, and remained in that position for the next two months.
Time in the USA
Bob Marley’s mother remarried and moved to the United States. Her son moved in with her, but Marley’s stay in the US was short and he returned to Jamaica after eight months.
In the following years, Bob Marley’s band released a few more hits. But the economic difficulties they were going through made Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith leave the band.
This was a defining period in Marley’s life. The Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, made a state visit to Jamaica during the period that Bob Marley was away, and the Rastafarian movement gained strength in the streets of Kingston. Bob Marley then began to immerse himself in the Rastafarian spirit and culture.
Songs that reflect beliefs
By 1967, Bob Marley’s music already reflected his beliefs. Instead of singing anthems, Marley started writing about social and spiritual themes, which became his trademark and his greatest legacy.
Bob Marley has sold more than 75 million records.
Songs that reflect culture
Bob Marley dedicated himself to protest against social issues. His music touched themes such as the Rastafarian movement, and his ideas of peace, brotherhood, social equality, environmental preservation, liberation, resistance, freedom, and universal love.
Bob was married to Rita Marley, one of the I-Threes, who started singing with the Wailers after they reached international success.
Rita was the mother of three of Bob Marley’s eleven acknowledged children (two of them adopted). The renowned Ziggy and Stephen Marley continue the musical legacy of their father in the band, the Melody Makers.
Marley’s children, Ky-Mani Marley, Julian Marley, and Damian Marley, also followed a career in music.
Bob Marley’s music was heavily influenced by the social and political issues of his homeland, making him the voice of the black, poor, and oppressed people of Jamaica.
Africa also became the subject of some of his songs. It was considered to be the sacred land of the Rastafarian movement.
Celebrities sing Bob Marley
Stars such as Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger also admired Bob Marley’s work. Eric Clapton then re-recorded Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ which hit the top of the charts and helped further leverage Bob Marley & The Wailers’ career.
‘No Woman No Cry’
In October 1974, ‘Natty Dread’ was released. Marley became even more popular, thanks to the success of the track ‘No Woman No Cry,’ which reached the top spot on the UK charts. At that time, the band was accompanied by the I-Threes: singers Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Bob’s wife, Rita Marley.
Fame in the USA
The singer became famous in the United States after the release of the album ‘Rastaman Vibration’ in 1976. In Jamaica, his fame was almost mystical.
The ‘Legend’ compilation, released three years after his death, features songs from a number of the artist’s albums, and is the best-selling reggae album in history.
Bob Marley was voted the 11th greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
The singer began struggling with health problems, though he attempted one more show in Pittsburgh on September 23, 1980, which ended up being his last. Soon the world received the sad news that the reggae star suffered from a type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma, which developed under his big toenail.
The doctors advised him to amputate his toe, but Marley refused because of his Rastafarian philosophy that the body is a temple that no one can alter. His other concern was the impact of the surgery on his dance.
The cancer then spread to the brain, lungs, and stomach. He fought the disease for eight months, seeking treatment at Dr. Joseph Issels’ clinic in Germany. For some time, the singer’s condition seemed to have stabilized with the natural treatment of the German physician.
But in May 1981, when Dr. Joseph Issels announced that nothing more could be done, Bob Marley, already sickened by disease, decided to return to his home in Jamaica to spend his last days with his family and friends. He failed to complete the trip, and was hospitalized in Miami. He died on May 11, 1981.
Though Bob Marley may have left us, his legacy still lives on. His messages are sung, remembered, and quoted to this day. Bob Marley was instrumental in bringing Jamaican and Rastafarian culture to the world.