The Life And Musical Legacy Of Bob Marley

Bob Marley was an African Icon. He was one of the biggest stars of reggae music and made this genre of music more popular.

Bob Marley’s life, career, and death all impact the world. Bob’s musical talent was outstanding and his love for creating music was even greater.

Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945 on a farm in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. He was the only child of Cedella Malcom and Captain Norval Sinclair Marley. In 1951, when Bob was six, he moved off of the farm to go live with his father in Kingston, Jamaica. Later that year, when his mother went to Kingston to check on him, she found out that Bob was not living with his father, but living with an elderly woman named Mrs. Grey. Bob’s father had died of a heart attack, so Bob had to move to his Grandfathers farm. In 1955, Bob’s mother moved to Kingston without him to earn a better living. Bob and his mother were not re-united until 1957, when he moved to meet her in Kingston. They lived in Trench Town, a very poor neighborhood in the city. Bob attended a lot of different schools, but could never find one to fit, so his education ended very early. He would spend most of his time playing soccer and slowly learning music with other ghetto kids. In 1960, Bob started making music and singing with his best friend Neville Livingston. They made their own instruments and practiced singing to beats. This was the beginning of Marley’s music career. 

In 1960 Bob and Bunny began to take signing lessons with Joe Higgs, a Jamaican song recorder. When Bob was sixteen, he sang for the producer Leslie Kong, who issued his first recordings. He sang three songs: “Judge Not,” One Cup of Coffee,” and “Terror.” Bob’s songs did not end up doing too well, so instead of being a solo artist, he joined his friends bunny and Joe Higgs. They called their group the Wailing Wailers. They recorded their first single “Simmer Down” in 1963. By 1964 it went to the top of the Jamaican charts.

By this time, two other members joined the group: Junior Braithwaite and Beverly Kelso. Although the group continued to have good singles, the group did not have a good enough financial standpoint. This eventually lead the main core of the group (Bob, Bunny, and Higgs) to drift apart and eventually disband in 1965.

In 1965, Bob married Rita Anderson. Bob and Rita had 3 children, but Bob had other children outside of his relationship with Rita. Bob in total had 13 children with 7 different mothers. 11 of his children were biological and 2 of them were adopted. His three children with Rita were Sharon, Cedella, David, and Stephen Marley. Bob was described as a lover and always cared for those he loved. The more money he would make, the more he would use to support his family. Bob Marley’s main music career began after he married his wife.

After Bob married his wife, he went to the United States in Wilmington Delaware, to try to start a Jamaican-based recording company. In 1969, under the name of the Wailers, Bob, Higgs, and Bunny recorded a series of good singles for Johnny Nash and Danny Sim’s JAD label. In 1970, The wailers recorded “Scratch” and other successful singles, which helped them take off and gain more popularity. The year after, the Wailers added Aston and Carlton Barret to the Wailers as rhythm section. The Wailers started to see real success when in 1972 they released their first full length album Catch a Fire, which launched the Wailers first tour. They toured the USA and Britain. In that same year, the Wailers released a second album. Burnin’, which featured their hit song “I Shot the Sheriff” and also launched another tour. Although the band was gaining a lot of success, the core of the band disbanded in 1974. Bunny and Higgs moved on to pursue their own solo careers. Bob and the two remaining members continued to produce music. At the end of the year in 1974, Bob and the two remaining wailers released the album Natty Dread. In 1977, the Wailers released Exodus. Both Exodus and Natty Dread had successful tours. At this point, Bob Marley’s music had become very popular, and he and the Wailers continued to produce more albums. In 1978, the album Kayla was released and launched another tour.

The last two albums Bob Marley released were Survival and Uprising in 1979 and 1980. These both had two tours launch, but the Uprising tour had an abrupt ending to it.

In 1980, while on the Uprising Tour, Bob was on a jog in central park when he suffered a stroke and collapsed. The Uprising tour was canceled and Bob was getting treatment. When Bob woke up from his collapse, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in his lungs, stomach, and brain. Bob traveled to Bad Wiessee, Germany, to seek nontraditional cancer treatment from Doctor Josef Issels. Dr. Issels was able to extend Bob’s life for as long as possible, but could not treat the cancer successfully. On October 4, 1981, Bob Marley died. Bob was treated as a Jamaican hero in his death. He was awarded Jamaica’s National Order of Merit and given a state funeral. He was buried at St. Ann, his birthplace. Bob’s legacy was carried through his children.

Bob Marley’s children and wife carried on his musical legacy. 7 of Bob’s 13 children became musicians. David Marley started a band named Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. His children David “Ziggy” Marley, Cedella, and Sharon Marley are the members of this band. Rita Marley also often performs with Ziggy and the Melody makers. Rita also sometimes performs with the I-Threes. Damian, Ky-Mani, and Julian Marley are also all talented recording artists. Marley’s other children are a part of other family businesses such as the Tuff Going recording label. Bob’s legacy is also carried out through the Bob Marley foundation, which helps people in developing nations. Bob also achieved many other musical accomplishments.

Bob had a lot of musical accomplishments in his career. He was a world ambassador for reggae music. He was also entered into the Rock Hall of fame in 1994. Bob sold over 20 million records which made him the first superstar to come from the “Third World”. In 1976 Bob received the Rolling Stones Magazine award for band of the year. Bob also received the Peace Medal of the United Nations in 1978. Bob received the 43rd Granny Lifetime Achievement award. Bob’s name is also in the Holly Wood walk of fame.

In 1999, Time magazine recognized Exodus as album of the century. BBC also named Bob’s song “One Love” as their song of the Millennium. All of these awards account to how impressive Bob’s career was. Bob did have a few career scares, however. 

Bob was a Supporter of the People’s national party. Bob’s influence on the native people was seen as a threat to the rivals of the party. This was the supposed motive for an attempted assassination on Marley. The attempted assassination happened in 1976 when a group of gunmen attack Marley and the Wailers during a rehearsal. A bullet hit Bob in the bicep and the sternum, while another hit Rita in the head. Neither of the Marley’s were killed, but injured. Despite the attack, Bob performed the next day, but immodestly fled the country the next day. Bob also had a healthy problem in 1977 when doctors found cancerous cells on his toes. The doctors wanted to perform an amputation, but it went against Marley’s religion, so he did not go through with it. Despite the cancerous cells, Marley was ok and it didn’t really affect him.

Bob Marley was an African icon who inspired a lot of people with his music and life. He came from a very humble beginning and turned into a musical superstar. Although he was not loved by all, his supporters respected and looked up to him. Bob Marley’s career and life show how much hard work pays off. Bob Marley was a questionable man, a great musician, and had a very interesting life.