It all started out on February 6th, 1945. A great human being was born. What no one knew though is that he would change history and be an idle for endless generations. He goes by the name of Bob Marley. Bob Marley is a reggae performer and he is one of the best. His music is something that you can listen to if you’re having a bad day and automatically feel better. His music radiates good vibes. Bob has sold over 20 million records throughout his career, which made him the first international superstar to emerge from the so called third-world.
In 1963 Bob and his friends formed a band together and they called it the Wailing Wailers. They had this band for a long time before they finally landed a record deal with Island Records. Bob introduced reggae music to the world and is one of the genres most favorite artists still to this day. Bob is the son of an African American teen mother. His father on the other hand was white and wasn’t present in his life. His father was actually a captain but sadly died of a heart attack at the age of 70 when Bob was only 10.
Bob’s childhood friend Neville “Bunny” Livingston is the one who inspired him to play the guitar. They went to school together and both shared a love of music. Later on Bunny’s dad and Marley’s mother go involved with each other and they all eventually started living together for a little while in Kingston. In Kingston Marley lived in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, Trench Town. He struggled in poverty but the music around him kept him going. Some of his favorite artists were Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and the Drifters.
Marley and Livingston devoted a lot of their time to music. With the guidance of Joe Higgs, Marley started to work on improving his vocals. This is where he met another student of Higgs that would become a big part of his career, Peter Tosh.
Leslie Kong, a local record producer, liked the sound of Marley’s voice and had him record a few singles. One of these singles was the popular song, “Judge Not.” He didn’t do well at first as a solo artist so this is when he decided to get his friends involved. In 1963, Marley, Livingston, and Tosh formed the Wailing Wailers. Their first single, “Simmer Down,” made it to the top of the Jamaican charts in 1964. Now by this time the group had expanded joining with Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, and Cherry Smith.
This group became really popular in Jamaica but they struggled financially. Braithwaite, Kelso, and Smith left the group, and the members that were left drifted apart for a little while. Long story short Bob went the the United States where his mother was living and before he left he married a women by the name of Rita Anderson. After 8 months of being in the states he returned to Jamaica, and this is when he reunited with Livingston and Tosh to form the Wailers.
They ended up working with multiple different famous artist and dropped a few singles along the way. The Wailers then eventually added a bassist and a drummer to the band. The wailers got a break in 1972 when they signed a contract with Island Records. This was the first time that the group had went to the studio and recorded their first album. The Wailers toured Britain and the United States and even landed an opening act for Bruce Springsteen. In that same year they released another album called “Burnin.”
Before releasing their third album, Tosh and Livingston left the group to go pursue careers as solo artists. Now called Bob Marley and the Wailers the group kept touring and helped increase the popularity of reggae music.
In 1976 a group of gunmen attacked Marley and the Wailers while they were rehearsing just two days before a planned concert in Kingston’s National Heroes Park. A bullet actually struck him in his sternum and his bicep, and another hit his wife, Rita, in the head. Bob and his wife were okay but their manager Don Taylor was shot five times, and one of the members had to undergo surgery to save his life. Despite what had happened to them he still played the show and then fled the country right after.
Later on in life, after many more achievements, Marley had discovered that he had cancer. When traveling to Europe he went through unconventional treatment in Germany and was able to fight the cancer for months. He became aware that he didn’t have much time to live and he returned back to his beloved home country Jamaica, one last time. He didn’t make it to Jamaica sadly, as he ended up dying in Miami, Florida on May 11th, 1981.
Before Bob Marley had died he had received the Order of Merit award from the Jamaican government. He had also been awarded the Medal of Peace from the United Nations. More than 30,000 people came to pay their respects during his memorial service which was held at the National Arena in Kingston. Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt sang, and the Wailers performed at the ceremony.
Bob Marley is a hero and a legacy. He accomplished a lot in his lifetime such as serving as the world ambassador for reggae music. He also earned an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Marley’s music will never be forgotten and will always remain for more generations to come. One of my favorite quotes from Bob Marley is, “Who are you to judge the life I live? I am not perfect and I don’t have to be! Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.” Bob Marley stood up for himself and his rights. He never gave up on his music even when times got tough. Bob Marley will always be mine and many others favorite artist. For his music has touched our souls, and many more to come.
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