Bob Marley

Bob Marley Biography

BORN to a middle-aged white father and a teenage black mother, Robert Nesta Marley transcended the humility of his poor rural roots in Trenchtown, Jamaica, to become a platinum-selling musician and reggae's biggest star. In the process, he also become a semi-religious icon whose work in promoting peace, justice, and brotherhood nearly outweighed the brilliance of his music.

Marley began singing professionally at sixteen with two friends, Bunny Livingston and Peter McIntosh (later known as Peter Tosh). The trio was heavily influenced by American vocal groups like the Drifters and the Impressions, as well as Sam Cooke, country singer Jim Reeves, and the indigenous music developing in Jamaica at the time. Marley cut his first record, "Judge Not," with the Teenagers (a.k.a. the Wailing Rudeboys) in 1962. Later, after adopting the band name the Wailers, Marley and his associates began mixing political content with unusual covers ("And I Love Her," "What's New Pussycat?"). They experimented with slowing down the prevailing ska beat, and called the results "rude boy music." In 1966, Marley married Rita Anderson and moved to the United States, where he stayed with his mother. But heeding the call of his homeland's fast-growing Rastafarian faith, Marley returned to Jamaica the same year.

As ska and rude boy music slowed down further into something called "rock steady," Marley was refining his own songwriting. But it wasn't until 1973, after Marley pleaded with an Island Records executive, that he had a chance (and the budget) to make his first professional recording. The resulting album, Catch a Fire (which included "Stir It Up" and Tosh's "Stop That Train"), introduced reggae to an international audience. With his accomplished band, Marley gave rock fans something new to dance to and a powerfully compelling brand of lyrical consciousness. From there, fueled by his Rastafarian faith and its intoxicating communion ("ganja"), Marley went on to become reggae's ambassador, and his songs of determination, rebellion, and justice found an audience the world over. (On their first U.S. tour, the Wailers opened for, among others, a young Bruce Springsteen.)

In 1974, after losing Tosh and Livingston but adding the I-Threes (a female vocal trio that included his wife, Rita), Marley released the formidable, moralistic Natty Dread, an album featuring the soon-to-be reggae classics "No Woman, No Cry" and "Lively Up Yourself." Eric Clapton even scored a No. 1 pop single with a cover of one of Marley's songs, "I Shot the Sheriff," in 1974. In the late seventies, Marley had worldwide hits with tracks like "Exodus," "Waiting in Vain," "Jamming," and "Is This Love," while the albums Rastaman Vibrations and Exodus were his American commercial breakthroughs.

On a 1977 European tour, Marley and the Wailers played an informal soccer game (his passion) against a team of French journalists. In the process, Marley hurt his foot, and though subsequent treatment for the injury revealed the presence of cancerous cells, he steadfastly refused surgery. Despite his condition, in 1978, Marley toured extensively, once selling out New York's massive Madison Square Garden. To commemorate the event, he released the performance as Babylon by Bus, perhaps the most powerful live recording in the history of reggae. That same year he also played a peace concert in Kingston, Jamaica, and a benefit in Boston for African Freedom Fighters, but the relentless touring was taking a toll on his health. Still, Marley managed to record and release Survival in 1979, a sparse but militant statement that reflected his ever-growing political voice.

In 1980, again on tour, Marley collapsed while jogging in New York's Central Park. The cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, and liver, and he died eight months later. The music world had lost one of its true and potent activists, a man who had gone from the ghettos of Trenchtown to wear humbly the mantle of musical ambassador the world over. "I don't have to suffer to be aware of suffering," he said to his biographer, Stephen Davis. "So is not anger [I have], but truth, and truth have to bust out of man like a river."

In separate incidents, both Wailer drummer Carlton Barrett and Peter Tosh were murdered in Jamaica. Rita Marley continues to run the family's Tuff Gong record label in Jamaica, and Bob's son Ziggy now records with his band the Melody Makers.

Bob Marley Bio from Discogs

Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician.

Born: February 6, 1945 Nine Miles, Jamaica.

Died: May 11, 1981 of cancer in Miami, Florida, USA

Nesta Robert "Bob" Marley, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (1963-1974) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.

Marley's music was heavily influenced by the social issues of his homeland, and he is considered to have given voice to the specific political and cultural nexus of Jamaica. His best-known hits include "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Could You Be Loved", "Stir It Up", "Get Up Stand Up", "Jamming", "Redemption Song", "One Love" and, "Three Little Birds", as well as the posthumous releases "Buffalo Soldier" and "Iron Lion Zion". The compilation album Legend (1984), released three years after his death, is reggae's best-selling album, going ten times Platinum which is also known as one Diamond in the U.S., and selling 25 million copies worldwide.

Inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 (Performer)

Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.

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