Bob Marley was to reggae and Jamaica that Elvis was to rock and roll. He was that big a star that, he was crowned as the first “Third World” pop superstar introducing the mystic power of reggae music and lyrics to the world. He achieved and won numerous accolades like, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, had a full length documentary of his life and music chronoloized and contrived, was awarded ” Band of the Year” by Rolling Stone Magazine in 1976, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and even received a star at the Hollywood Walk of fame in 2001. On a smaller, more personal scale, he has since had a statue erected of himself as well as prompted the Jamaican people and government to create the Bob Marley Museum in Jamaica. Quite an impressive resume for this influencial musician, I would say!
Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley was born in the village of Nine Mile, Jamaica on February 6th, 1945. His father was white Jamaican of English descent, while his mother was of Afro-Jamaican descent. At the age of 10 Bob Marley’s father died of a heart attack in 1960. From that point Bob would question his racial identity throughout his life. Marley recognized his mixed ancestral roots though, he identified himself as a black African. By the tender young age of 14, Bob dropped out of school to make music with fellow Rastafarian and friend Joe Higgs. Along the way he met Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh to make music together and follow their dreams while preaching their political and cultural views through Jamaican music and Rastafari movement. It was through this Rastafari movement that reggae was developed.
Bob Marley was brought up in the Catholic tradition, though he quickly changed to the more prevalent Rastafarian beliefs in the 1960’s upon returning to Jamaica at his mother’s disregards. The Rastafarian movement preached the observance of Ital, that shies away from meat, hence he became a vegetarian. Rastafarian’s believe in His Imperial Majesty, The Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the almighty. From that religious belief came his traditional trademark “dreadlocks” which was a mainstay from then on for him.
Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician, Bob Marley, began to take flight in 1964-1974 with “The Wailers” featuring ska, rocksteady and reggae music. At that time, the band consisted of Bob, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, Cherry Smith and Bunny Wailer. In 1966 Bob took a break from the music career and married Rita Anderson and moved from Jamaica to be closer to his mother house in Wilmington, Delaware. He worked as a DuPont Lab assistant and on the assembly line for Chrysler.
In the time frame between 1974-1981 the band became “Bob Marley and the Wailers”. Once he hit that point in his life, his career as a musician, singer, songwriter took full bloom. Such memorable hits as “I Shot The Sheriff”, “Three Little Birds”, “Redemption Song”, “No Women, No Cry”, “One Love”, “Stir it Up”, “Jamming” and “Could You Be Loved” were big and elevated him on the charts.
Again, with Bob Marley’s ties with black and African ethical backgrounds, he wrote and sang many songs that were collaborated based on his beliefs. Songs like “Babylon System”, “Exodus”, “Blackman Redemption” and “Black Survivor” all possessed his beliefs of repatriation of black people to Zion.
Under the Bob Marley and the Wailers title, the band produced and released eleven albums which included four live albums and seven studio albums. Bob Marley’s view was to take music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and distribute it on an international scene for Jamaicans, blacks and African to unite, celebrate and enjoy. The concert scene was an integral part of Bob Marley and the Wailers success, evident in their touring all over the world. From 1973-1980 they toured nine times with US., Canada and England being the target areas, though he did tour to places like Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Norway, France,Japan and Spain to name a few other countries that were fortunate enough to witness a Bob Marley and the Wailers concert.
In July of 1977 with the start of his European tour, Bob Marley injured his toe playing football. He later found out that he had a form of malignant melanoma known as acral lentiginous melanoma. He wanted desperately to continue touring despite his illness. After the band concluded their largest turnout for a concert in Milan, Italy performing for over a hundred thousand die hard fans they returned to the states where they performed two shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Shortly thereafter his illness began to worsen as the cancer spread to other parts of his body. He was treated with a risky and controversial type of cancer therapy and then returned to his home land of Jamaica. In between leaving Germany for Jamaica his condition deteriorated greatly and he was flown to Miami where he was admitted to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital there in Miami where he later died on May 21, 1981 concluded by a funeral eulogy by Jamaican prime Minister, at the time, Edward Seaga.
It was an entertaining trip during his time on this earth, as he gave not only Jamaican people but anyone who knew the meaning of reggae music and enjoyed what t was intended for. His music, presence and spiritual inspiration continues on, even today, to be listened to and enjoyed here and abroad. Thousands of people visit the Bob Marley museum and statue erected in his memory. He is remembered for his accolades and even the street named after him in New York City simply called, Bob Marley Boulevard.
I guess you could put Bob Marley’s musical contributions and death up there with Elvis, John Lennon and Buddy Holly. He was truly a pop superstar who had ascended from nothing to stardom in a short period of time.