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Bob Marley Biography

Posted On May 23rd, 2010 By Celebrity Biographies

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

Bob Marley was a Jamaican musician and singer-songwriter. He was the lead guitarist, songwriter and singer for rocksteady, ska as well as reggae bands including “The Wailers” and “Bob Marley & the Wailers”. He remains to be one of the most popular and revered artist of reggae music. He is also responsible for spreading the Jamaican music as well as the Rastafri movement to a global audience. His last compilation album called “Legend” was released in 1984 and sold 20 millions copies across the globe.

Early Life

Bob Marley was born as “Robert Nesta Bob Marley” in a small village called “Nine Mile” in Saint Ann Parish on February 6, 1945. Norval Sinclair Marley, his father, was a Jamaican from the English descent, whose family belonged to Essex, England. He served as a captain in the Royal Marines and was a plantation overseer as well. He married an 18 years old Afro-American called Cedella Booker. His father often went out for long trips and hardly saw his family; however he continued to support them financially. His father died of a heart attack in the year 1955, when Bob Marley was only ten years old. Throughout his life, he was teased due to his mixed racial inheritance and he was often asked questions about his own identity. His mother was black and his father was white, however he claimed that he was only on the side of God who created him the way he is. Based on his contemporary beliefs, he self-identified himself as a black African. In some of his songs such as “Blackman redemption”, “Black survivor” as well as “Babylon system”, he speaks of struggles of Africans against the racial discrimination from the West.

Early Career

Bob Marley soon became friends with Neville Livingston (also known as Bunny Wailer) and started playing music with him. He left school by the age of 14 for the purpose of making some music with a local singer called Joe Higgs, who was also a devoted Rastafari. During one of the jam sessions with Livingston and Higgs, he met Peter McIntosh, who also shared the same musical ambitions. Marley came up with his first two singles in the year 1962 with Leslie Kong, namely “One Cup of Coffee” and “Judge Not”. These songs gained little attention when they were released; however they were included in the box set of Marley’s work.

Wife & Children

Bob Marley was married to Rita and had three children. His wife had two adopted children from her previous relationships. Marley also had children from other women. His official website acknowledges as many as eleven children.

The Wailers

Bob Marley, along with Junior Braithwaite, Bunny Wailer, Beverly Kelso, Peter Tosh and Cherry Smith found a rockstead group and named it “The Teenagers”. They later renamed themselves to “The Wailing Rudeboys” and then “The Wailing Wailers”. Coxsone Dodd, a record producer later discovered the troupe and they were finally named “The Wailers”. Kelso, Smith and Braithwaite left the group in 1966 and after that Marley had a conflict with the producer. This led to the formation of ‘The Upsetters’. Although the group did not survive for long, they recorded some of the finest works till date. There was a dispute about the recording rights, between Marley and Perry. They split later on, but remained friends for long. The Wailers broke off completely in 1974 and the remaining members went on to pursue solo careers. There were different rumours about the breakup within the group. Some believed that the members had issues with the copyrights, whereas some claimed that the members wanted to go solo. Marley still continued to record as “Bob Marley and The Wailers”, despite the break up. There were 11 albums recorded under this name, seven of them were studio albums and four of them were live albums.

Illness

Bob Marley was known to have acral lentiginious melanoma in 1977, which was a simple wound picked up during a football match. Despite the malignant melanoma, he completed a tour of Europe along with his band in 1980. Shortly after, his health started deteriorating and the cancer was spread all over the body. He sought treatment from the Bavarian clinic in Josef Issels and was given a special cancer therapy, which involved the avoidance of specific food items, drinks as well as other substances. He fought for eight more months, before boarding a plane for Jamaica.

Death and Posthumous Reputation

Marley almost accepted that he was going to die, while flying from Germany to Jamaica. His condition worsened thereafter and he was taken to the hospital for immediate assistance. He died in Miami on May 11, 1981 at the ‘Cedars of Lebanon’ hospital. The melanoma spread to his brains and lungs, which led to his death at the age of 36. He said his final words to his son, where he claimed that ‘money cannot buy life’. Bob Marley was given a state funeral in Jamaica that combined the elements of Rastafare tradition and Ethiopian Orthodoxy. He was buried close to his birthplace on May 21, 1981. He got the ‘Jamaican Order of Merit’, just a month before his death.

Bob Marley was inducted to the ‘Rock & Roll’ Hall of Fame in 1994, whereas Time Magazine chose ‘Exodus’ as the biggest album of the century. There was a feature-length documentary about him, made by Rebel Music, which won several Grammys. Also, he was given the posthumous ‘Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Grammys in the year 2001.

Religion

Bob Marley happened to be a member of the Rastafari tradition. The culture of this religion turned out to be instrumental in the development of reggae. He became the main proponent of the tradition, taking music from the socially deprived regions of Jamaica, on to the international scene. Marley was a vegetarian since Rastas practiced a diet that excluded meat.


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