Spark one up and please enjoy this 4 song, 16 minute montage I put together (Redemption Song, One Love, No Woman No Cry, Get Up Stand Up).
Robert Nesta Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in the parish of St. Anns in Nine Miles, Jamaica to Norval Sinclair Marley and Cedella ‘Ciddy’ Malcom. Norval was a British Marine officer and Ciddy was a native Jamaican.
When Bob was five, his father took him to Kingston, Jamaica. It wasn’t until a year later that Bob saw his mother again. Soon after, he moved with his mother to Trenchtown, a section of Kingston notorious for it’s rough ghettoes.
In 1961, at the age of sixteen, Bob released his first song, Judge Not, which did not do well. This did not discourage Bob. He continued to pursue a career in music and in 1965, he formed a group called ‘The Wailers’ with Bunny Livingstone (later known as Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later known as simply Peter Tosh.) Bob acted as front man for the group and wrote most of the group’s material. The trio released ‘Simmer Down,’ ‘Rule Them Rudie’ and ‘It Hurts To Be Alone,’ all of which were hits in Jamaica.
In 1966, Bob Marley married Rita Anderson, his long-term girlfriend. The next day he went to the United States and stayed long enough to gain financing for his next record. The next year Bob and Rita’s first child, Cedella, was born. Soon after, the Marleys set up their own recording label, Wail ‘N Soul ‘M Records, and produced a single, ‘Bend Down Low/Mellow Mood.’ That same year, the record label was ended.
Their next child, David (Ziggy) was born in 1968. The Wailers continued to release singles without producing an album. The band formed another label, Tuff Gong, and finally reached a degree of success. By that time, the Wailers were famous in the Caribbean, but were unknown in the rest of the world.
Finally in 1971, the Wailers got a break. Island Records forwarded them 8,000 pounds for the production of a full album. The Wailers were the first reggae band to receive so much money and to have access to the best recording studios. They produced two albums, ‘Catch a Fire’ and ‘Burnin’’, the latter which included ‘Get Up Stand Up’ and ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ The Wailers began to extensively toured the United States and the United Kingdom and when Eric Clapton covered ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ the Wailers soared to instant fame.
Soon after their success in the US, the band changed their name to Bob Marley and the Wailers and then released their next album, ‘Natty Dread.’ The album included the hit single ‘No Woman No Cry,’ perhaps their most popular song. Soon after, Bunny and Peter left to pursue solo careers and were replaced by new members. By 1976, reggae fever had swept the United States. Rolling Stone magazine named Bob Marley and the Wailers the ‘Band of the Year’ and ‘Rastaman Vibration’ rose to the top of the charts.
On December 3 of 1976, an assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley, his wife and the managers of the Wailers to keep him from playing at the Smile Jamaica concert in Kingston. His concert was scheduled for December 5 after a presidential candidate’s election rally. Despite receiving two gun shot wounds, Bob Marley performed anyway and then left for the UK.
Bob Marley and the Wailers went on to produce their next album, ‘Exodus,’ in 1977. The release of this album propelled Bob to a international superstar. Later, in May of the same year, Bob found out that he had cancer in his toe. Doctors recommended that he have the toe removed, but Bob refused since this was against his Rastafarian beliefs. In July, the rest of the Exodus tour was canceled.
In 1978, the band released another album, ‘Kaya.’ The group's songs went from protest anthems to love songs about ganja (marijuana), which is highly held by Rastafarians as a way to connect with Jah (God.) In April, Marley returned to Jamaica to perform in the One Love Peace Concert, and later that year he received a Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations. Bob Marley also traveled to Africa for the first time, making stops in Kenya, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
The band went on touring throughout the US and Europe and produced a few more albums, ncluding ‘Uprising.’ However, in 1980, Marley fell gravely ill. The cancer in his toe had spread upwards through his body and had infected his liver, stomach and brain. In September, Bob nearly fainted during a concert in New York City. The next day he collapsed while jogging through a park and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors revealed that the tumor in his brain had greatly enlarged and that Bob had less than a month to live.
Bob wanted to continue the tour though, and he performed a spectacular show in Pittsburgh on September 22. Rita was not happy with his decision to spend his final days touring though, and the concert was canceled the next day. Bob then went to Miami where he was baptized at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on November 4. Five days later, in a last attempt to save his life, Bob flew to a controversial treatment center in Germany with Rita. Three months later on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley died at the young age of 36.
Bob Marley’s funeral was held in Jamaica on May 21, and hundreds of thousands of people attended, including the Prime Minister of Jamaica. Bob’s body was taken back to his birth place in Nine Miles where it now rests in a mausoleum.
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