BOB MARLEY BIOGRAPHY
BIRTH: February 6, 1945,
Saint Ann Parish, British Jamaica
DEATH: May 11, 1981 (aged 36),
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer and songwriter. He contributed to popularizing reggae music in the world. He sold more than twenty million records in his lifetime.
Bob Marley was born as Robert Nesta Marley to Norval Sinclair and Cedella Booker on 6th February, 1945. His father died of heart failure when Marley was merely ten years old. His mother, Cedella, was a singer-songwriter.
Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston was his childhood friend in Saint Ann. Livingston’s father, Thadeus, and Marley’s mother had a daughter, and thus the two families started living together. In the 1950s, Marley lived in Trench Town, considered to be one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Marley and
Livingston dedicated themselves to music, and Marley’s singing abilities improved under the guidance of Joe Higgs.
Marley produced a few singles in 1962 with local record producer, Leslie Kong. They included
songs like “Judge Not”, “Do You Still Love Me?”, “Terror” and “One Cup of Coffee”. Marley, Bunny
Wailer (Neville Livingston) and Peter Tosh (Winston Hubert McIntosh) formed a group
together in 1963, eventually named The Wailers. Beverley Kelso, Junior Braithwaite and Cherry
Smith later joined the band. The record company owned by Coxsone Dodd produced their single
“Simmer Down” in January, 1964. It topped the Jamaican music charts. Their first album (1965) “The Wailing Wailers’ gave the hit single “Rude Boy”. In 1966, Junior Braithwaite and Beverley Kelso left the band. The band released its first international album, ‘Soul Rebels’ in 1970. It was in collaboration with recording artist Lee “Scratch” Perry and produced by Trojan Records in the UK. It contained songs such as “Trench Town Rock”, “Soul Rebel” and “Four Hundred Years”. In 1971, two of their popular albums were released, namely, ‘Soul Revolution’ and ‘The Best of the Wailers’.
The Wailers released their 1973 album ‘Catch a Fire’ with Island Records. It sold 14,000 records.
Their next album, ‘Burnin”, was released in the same year. It contained the hit single “I Shot the
Sheriff”. Eric Clapton released a cover of this song in 1974 and it topped the U.S. charts.
Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston left the band in 1974. Bob Marley started making music under the name of Bob Marley and The Wailers. The 1974 album, ‘Natty Dread’, included songs like “Rebel Music (3 O’clock Roadblock)” and “Revolution”. The song “No Woman, No Cry” from the album ‘Live!’ was listed in the Top 40 in Britain, a first for the band. In 1976, the album ‘Rastaman Vibration’ was released.
Its single “War” had lyrics taken from a speech by Haile Selassie. Selassie, a 20th century Ethiopian emperor, was seen as a spiritual leader in the Rastafarian movement. Marley supported the People’s National Party (PNP). The rivals of this political party were supposedly behind the attempt to assassinate Marley in 1976.
Marley’s 1977 album, ‘Exodus, was part of the UK charts for more than a year. Its singles “Waiting in Vain” and “Jamming” were quite a hit. Marley performed in Jamaica at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978 and at the official independence ceremony of Zimbabwe in 1980.
Marley was awarded the ‘Peace Medal of the Third World’ by the United Nations in June 1978. He was also honored with the ‘Jamaican Order of Merit’ (third highest honor of the nation) by the Jamaican government in February 1981.
Posthumously, in February 2001, Marley was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In the same year, Marley was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has also been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. The album ‘Catch a Fire’ got inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.
Bob Marley converted his faith from Catholic to Rastafari in 1966. He married Alpharita Constantia Anderson (Rita) on 10th February, 1966. They had three children. Marley was diagnosed with malignant melanoma (incurable skin cancer) in 1977. His health began to decline over the years. Marley died on 11th May, 1981 at Miami’s Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga presided over his funeral service. He was buried at a chapel in Nine Mile. Marley’s posthumous album
“Confrontation’ was released in 1983. His statues were erected at Kingston, Jamaica and Banatski Sokolac, a village in Serbia. A movie, Marley, by director Kevin Macdonald was released in 2012.