Jamaican musician and singer, co-founder of the group Wailing Wailers (1963), The Wailers (1964–1974), and lead singer for Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981). He was a promoter of Jamaican culture and Rastafarianism, singer of reggae, ska and rocksteady music. Recognized worldwide for his musical contributions and his commitment to peace.
Robert Nesta Marley Booker, also known as Bob Marley, was born on February 6, 1945, at the end of World War II in Nine Mile, a village in St. Ann Parish in northern Jamaica. He was the son of Cedella Booker of Jamaica and Norval Marley of England, who completely washed his hands of his relationship with his son. During his childhood he was influenced by African-American musical styles (rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, soul and blues) and the folk music of his country (at that time, ska). From an early age, Bob Marley wanted to make music. By age 17 (1962, the year that Jamaica gained its independence), he had already made some simple recordings under the pseudonym Bobby Martell on the label Beverly’s Records. In 1967, after having lived for several months with his mother in the United States and having experienced racial discrimination firsthand, he returned to Jamaica and put his faith in the Rastafarian religion, a belief based on a reinterpretation of Biblical texts that viewed the coronation of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I as the realization of a prophecy that promised freedom for all people of African descent.
In 1963, Marley devoted himself fully to music as part of the group the Wailing Wailers and, later, after 1964, as part of The Wailers along with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, with whom he recorded Catch A Fire in 1972, his first album with the group. The record launched a series of tours beyond Jamaica, bringing his work to the United States and Britain. In 1975, when Peter and Bunny left the group, it came to be known as Bob Marley and The Wailers. In this new form, a trio of women, including his wife, Rita Anderson, along with Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, accompanied Bob. This group released the album Rastaman Vibration in 1976 and topped the hit list with songs such as No Woman, No Cry and War.
From then on, Bob Marley was considered one of the most important reggae performers and Jamaican musicians. His desire to bring his message of peace and his commitment to Rastafarianism led to threats against him and one night in 1976 when gunmen broke into his house and wounded him. The altercation did not deter Marley from meeting his commitments and he performed a concert just days later in Jamaica and left on another world tour, this time visiting African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, where he appeared in 1980 by official invitation in the ceremony in which the country declared its independence.
By the 1980s, Marley and his group had recorded more than six records, topped various hit lists beyond his home country and had brought worldwide recognition to reggae. Marley died of cancer in 1981 at age 36 while he was being cared for at a hospital in Miami. He was buried in his home country by heads of state as a national hero of Jamaican culture.
Author: Abdiel Segarra
Published: May 09, 2012.
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