Bob Marley was a legendary figure in the history of reggae music. He was born in the rural Jamaican village of Nine Mile on February 6, 1945, and he died of cancer on May 11, 1981, at the age of 36. Bob Marley was a Rastafarian, and he was an advocate for human rights and racial equality.
Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in the rural Jamaican village of Nine Mile. Bob’s father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white Jamaican of English descent who worked as a supervisor for the local coffee plantation. Bob’s mother, Cedella Booker, was a black woman from Kingston. Bob was their first child; he would eventually have eight siblings.
Norval Marley was not a part of Bob’s life growing up; he left Bob and his mother when Bob was just ten days old. Cedella raised Bob as a single mother in the rural community of Nine Mile. Bob had a happy childhood despite the absence of his father; he loved playing music and sports, and he had many close friends. Bob was baptized a Rastafarian when he was twelve years old.
In 1962, Bob moved to Kingston to pursue a music career. He soon became involved in the city’s burgeoning reggae scene, and in 1963 he recorded his first single, “Judge Not.” In 1966, Bob formed the band The Wailers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The Wailers achieved international success with their 1973 album Catch a Fire and their 1975 album Burnin’. Bob left the group in 1974 to pursue a solo career; he released his breakthrough album, Exodus, in 1977.
Bob Marley’s music is as popular today as it was during his lifetime. He is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential figures in reggae music, and his songs continue to inspire people around the world. Bob Marley’s life was cut short by cancer, but in his short time on earth he left a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten. Bob Marley was a true legend, and his music will live on forever.
Bob’s mother followed him there but died shortly after Bob’s arrival due to an asthma attack (Lee 1). Bob Marley spent his youth in various homes and institutions; the most stable of which was being raised by the Welsh family who adopted him. It was around this time that Bob Marley started to learn how to play music. In 1962, Bob Marley recorded his first song with a vocal group called The Wailers (Lee 2).
In 1963, The Wailers traveled to England where they auditioned for producer Chris Blackwell of Island Records. Blackwell liked what he heard and signed them to his label. The Wailers then went on to release several successful albums, including Catch a Fire in 1973 (Lee 2). Bob Marley’s music was a mix of reggae, ska, and rocksteady. His lyrics were often about peace, love, and social justice. Bob Marley became a Rastafarian in the late 1960s. Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, was God incarnate (Lee 3).
“Bob thought of Nine Miles as the most imposing community he could imagine when he set out, now reduced to a village in a coffee cup when viewed against what was spread before him” (White 80). Bob reconnected with his mother around a year later. Bob and his mother lived in one of Kingston’s most dangerous slums. Later, Marley would write “Concrete Jungle,” in which he compared the living conditions and poverty within the slum to slavery’s shackles. This was only one of Marley’s many songs about freedom from oppression.
In 1962, Bob Marley married Rita Anderson and had four children with her. The couple later divorced in 1974. Bob then married Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976, and had one child with her.
Bob was baptized a Rastafarian that same year and started to grow his hair long in accordance with the religion’s beliefs. Bob’s music began to reflect his spiritual awakening and he soon became known as the “voice of the ghetto” (White 80). In 1966, Bob formed the group The Wailers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston. The Wailers went on to become one of the most popular reggae groups of all time.
While Bob lived in the shanty part of Kingston, he met a boy his age, Bunny Livingstone. Bunny, also a native of Kingston, established a close relationship with Bob (Nicholas 23). They sang together everyday after school and made their own instruments. With their adolescent voices, Bob and Bunny began in 1960 to build, what one day became the Wailer’s music. In Kingston, musicians were developing a new sound, consisting of a unique mixture of mento (a kind of calypso) and rhythm and blues, which would later be called Jamaican Ska.
Bob and Bunny were very much a part of this movement, but as the years went by, Bob’s music began to reflect his spiritual beliefs more and more. Bob was baptized a Rastafarian in 1966 (Nicholas 36).
In 1963, Bob Marley relocated to Wilmington Delaware in the United States of America with Peter McIntosh (now Peter Tosh) and Bunny Livingstone. Bob worked odd jobs while trying to start his music career there. He met Jimmy Cliff and they formed a duo called The Wailers. In 1966, Bob Marley moved back to Jamaica and rejoined Bunny Livingstone and Peter Tosh and they became The Wailers (Garrett 1).
The Wailers recorded their first album in London in 1972. Bob Marley had by then become the primary songwriter and singer for the group. His compositions brought together many styles of music, including soul, gospel, reggae, ska and R&B (Garrett 1).
The Wailers’ popularity grew steadily throughout the 1970s. Bob Marley’s lyrics dealt with themes of social justice, love, faith, family, and peace. His music awakened international interest in reggae and strongly influenced the course of reggae music (Garrett 1).
Bob Marley died of cancer on May 11, 1981 at the age of 36. Even though he was gone, his music lived on. In 1994, Bob Marley was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His album Legend, released in 1984, is the best-selling reggae album of all time (Lee 4).
Bob Marley was more than just a musician. He was a symbol of peace and love who used his music to spread a message of hope and unity to the world. His life story is an inspiration to all.