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Bob Marley

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Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the ska, rock steady and reggae bands The Wailers (1964–1974) and Bob Marley & the Wailers (1974–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited for helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement (of which he was a committed member), to a worldwide audience.[1]

Marley's best known hits include "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Exodus", "Could You Be Loved", "Stir It Up", "Jamming", "Redemption Song", "One Love" and, together with The Wailers, "Three Little Birds",[2] as well as the posthumous releases "Buffalo Soldier" and "Iron Lion Zion". The compilation album, Legend, released in 1984, three years after his death, is reggae's best-selling album, being 10 times Platinum (Diamond) in the U.S.,[3] and selling 20 million copies worldwide.[4][5]

Early life and career

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Bob Marley was born in the small village of Nine Mile in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica as Nesta Robert Marley.[6] A Jamaican passport official would later swap his first and middle names.[7] His father Norval Sinclair Marley was a Caucasian Jamaican of English descent whose family came from Essex in England. Some have specualted that they were of Syrian Jewish descent however this is not conclusive.[8]Norval was a captain in the Royal Marines, as well as a plantation overseer, when he married Cedella Booker, an Afro-Jamaican then eighteen years old.[9] Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them, as he was often away on trips. In 1955, when Marley was 10 years old, his father died of a heart attack at age 60.[10] Marley suffered racial prejudice as a youth, because of his mixed racial origins and faced questions about his own racial identity throughout his life. He once reflected:

"I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white."

Although Marley recognized his mixed ancestry, throughout his life and because of his beliefs, he self-identified as a black African [12][13][14]. In songs such as "Black Progress," "African Herbsman," "Buffalo Soldier," "War," "Africa Unite" and others, Marley sings about the struggles of blacks and Africans against oppression from the West or "Babylon." [15]

Marley became friends with Neville "Bunny" Livingston (later known as Bunny Wailer), with whom he started to play music. He left school at the age of 14 to make music with Joe Higgs, a local singer and devout Rastafari. It was at a jam session with Higgs and Livingston that Marley met Peter McIntosh (later known as Peter Tosh), who had similar musical ambitions.[16]

In 1962, Marley recorded his first two singles, "Judge Not" and "One Cup of Coffee", with local music producer Leslie Kong. These songs, released on the Beverley's label under the pseudonym of Bobby Martell,[17] attracted little attention. The songs were later re-released on the box set, Songs of Freedom, a posthumous collection of Marley's work.

Musical career

The Wailers

In 1963, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith formed a ska and rocksteady group, calling themselves "The Teenagers". They later changed their name to "The Wailing Rudeboys", then to "The Wailing Wailers", at which point they were discovered by record producer Coxsone Dodd, and finally to "The Wailers". By 1966, Braithwaite, Kelso, and Smith had left The Wailers, leaving the core trio of Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh.

In 1966, Marley married Rita Anderson, and moved near his mother's residence in Wilmington, Delaware in the United States for a short time, during which he worked as a DuPont lab assistant and on the assembly line at a Chrysler plant, under the alias Donald Marley.[18]

Upon returning to Jamaica, Marley became a member of the Rastafari movement, and started to wear his trademark dreadlocks (see the religion section for more on Marley's religious views).

After a conflict with Dodd, Marley and his band teamed up with Lee "Scratch" Perry and his studio band, The Upsetters. Although the alliance lasted less than a year, they recorded what many consider The Wailers' finest work. Marley and Perry split after a dispute regarding the assignment of recording rights, but they would remain friends and work together again.

Between 1968 and 1972, Bob and Rita Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer re-cut some old tracks with JAD Records in Kingston and London in an attempt to commercialize The Wailers' sound. Bunny later asserted that these songs "should never be released on an album … they were just demos for record companies to listen to." Also in 1968, Bob and Rita visited the Bronx to see Johnny Nash's songwriter Jimmy Norman.[19] A three day jam session with Norman and others, including Norman's co-writer Al Pyfrom, resulted in a 24-minute tape of Marley performing several of his own and Norman-Pyfrom's compositions which is, according to Reggae archivist Roger Steffens, rare in that was influenced by pop rather than reggae, as part of the effort to break Marley into American charts.[19] According to an article in The New York Times, Marley experimented on the tape with different sounds, adopting a doo-wop style on "Stay With Me" and "the slow love song style of 1960's artists" on "Splish for My Splash."[19]

The Wailers' first album, Catch a Fire, was released worldwide in 1973, and sold well. It was followed a year later by Burnin', which included the songs "Get Up, Stand Up" and "I Shot The Sheriff". Eric Clapton made a hit cover of "I Shot the Sheriff" in 1974, raising Marley's international profile.

The Wailers broke up in 1974 with each of the three main members going on to pursue solo careers. The reason for the break-up is shrouded in conjecture; some believe that there were disagreements amongst Bunny, Peter, and Bob concerning performances, while others claim that Bunny and Peter simply preferred solo work.

Bob Marley & The Wailers

Despite the breakup, Marley continued recording as "Bob Marley & The Wailers". His new backing band included brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett on drums and bass respectively, Junior Marvin and Al Anderson on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl "Wya" Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin "Seeco" Patterson on percussion. The "I Threes", consisting of Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley's wife, Rita, provided backing vocals.

In 1975, Marley had his international breakthrough with his first hit outside Jamaica, "No Woman, No Cry," from the Natty Dread album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the US, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which spent four weeks on the Billboard charts Top Ten.

In December 1976, two days before "Smile Jamaica", a free concert organized by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between two warring political groups, Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were wounded in an assault by unknown gunmen inside Marley's home. Taylor and Marley's wife sustained serious injuries, but later made full recoveries. Bob Marley received minor wounds in the chest and arm. The shooting was thought to have been politically motivated, as many felt the concert was really a support rally for Manley. Nonetheless, the concert proceeded, and an injured Marley performed as scheduled, two days after the attempt. When asked why, Marley responded, "the people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?". The members of the group Zap Pow – which had no radical religious or political beliefs – played as Bob Marley's backup band before a festival crowd of 80,000 while members of the Wailers were still missing or in hiding.[20]

Marley left Jamaica at the end of 1976 for England, where he recorded his Exodus and Kaya albums. Exodus stayed on the British album charts for 56 consecutive weeks. It included four UK hit singles: "Exodus", "Waiting In Vain", "Jamming", and "One Love" (a rendition of Curtis Mayfield's hit, "People Get Ready"). It was here that he was arrested and received a conviction for possession of a small quantity of cannabis while traveling in London.

In 1978, Marley performed at another political concert in Jamaica, the One Love Peace Concert, again in an effort to calm warring parties. Near the end of the performance, by Marley's request, Manley and his political rival, Edward Seaga, joined each other on stage and shook hands.

Babylon by Bus, a double live album with 13 tracks, was released in 1978 to critical acclaim. This album, and specifically the final track "Jammin'" with the audience in a frenzy, captured the intensity of Marley's live performances.

Survival, a defiant and politically charged album, was released in 1979. Tracks such as "Zimbabwe", "Africa Unite", "Wake Up and Live", and "Survival" reflected Marley's support for the struggles of Africans. His appearance at the Amandla Festival in Boston in July 1979 showed his strong opposition to South African apartheid, which he already had shown in his song "War" in 1976. In early 1980, he was invited to perform at the April 17 celebration of Zimbabwe's Independence Day.

Uprising (1980) was Bob Marley's final studio album, and is one of his most religious productions, including "Redemption Song" and "Forever Loving Jah".

Confrontation, released posthumously in 1983, contained unreleased material recorded during Marley's lifetime, including the hit "Buffalo Soldier" and new mixes of singles previously only available in Jamaica.

Later years

Illness

In July 1977, Marley was found to have acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma, in a football wound—according to widely held urban legend, inflicted by broadcaster and pundit Danny Baker[21]—on his right big toe. Marley refused amputation, because of the Rastafari belief that the body must be "whole". [22]

Marley may have seen medical doctors as samfai (tricksters, deceivers). True to this belief Marley went against all surgical possibilities and sought out other means that would not break his religious beliefs. He also refused to register a will, based on the Rastafari belief that writing a will is acknowledging death as inevitable, thus disregarding the everlasting (or everliving, as Rastas say) character of life.

The cancer then metastasized (spread) to Marley's brain, lungs, liver, and stomach. After playing two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of his fall 1980 Uprising Tour, he collapsed while jogging in New York City's Central Park. The remainder of the tour was subsequently cancelled.

Marley played his final concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The live version of "Redemption Song" on Songs of Freedom was recorded at this show.[23] Marley afterwards sought medical help from Munich specialist Josef Issels, who promoted a controversial type of cancer treatment, partly based on avoidance of certain foods, drinks and other substances (Marley was also already a vegetarian, and modeled his diet in accordance to religious beliefs and what is considered Ital).[24]. However, by this time his illness had already progressed to the terminal stage.

Death and posthumous reputation

While flying home from Germany to Jamaica for his final days, Marley became ill, and landed in Miami for immediate medical attention. He died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami on the morning of May 11, 1981, at the age of 36. The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain caused his death. His final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can't buy life."[25] Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on May 21, 1981, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition.[26] He was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his Fender Stratocaster.[27] A month before his death, he had also been awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit.[28]

Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.[29] Time magazine chose Bob Marley & The Wailers' Exodus as the greatest album of the 20th century.[30]

In 2001, Marley was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a feature-length documentary about his life, Rebel Music, won various awards at the Grammys. With contributions from Rita, the Wailers, and Marley's lovers and children, it also tells much of the story in his own words.

In 2006, the State of New York renamed a portion of Church Avenue from Remsen Avenue to East 98th Street in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn "Bob Marley Boulevard".[31]

Religion

Bob Marley was a member of the Rastafari movement, whose culture was a key element in the development of reggae. Bob Marley became a leading proponent of the Rastafari, taking their music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene. Marley was baptized by the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church in Kingston, Jamaica, on November 4, 1980.[32][33]

Wife and children

Bob Marley had a number of children: three with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita's previous relationships, and the remaining seven with separate women.[34] His children are, in order of birth:

  1. Imani Carole, born May 22, 1963 to Cheryl Murray
  2. Sharon, born November 23, 1964, to Rita in previous relationship;
  3. Cedella born August 23, 1967, to Rita;
  4. David "Ziggy", born October 17, 1968, to Rita;
  5. Stephen, born April 20, 1972, to Rita;
  6. Robert "Robbie", born May 16, 1972, to Pat Williams;
  7. Rohan, born May 19, 1972, to Janet Hunt;
  8. Karen, born 1973 to Janet Bowen;
  9. Stephanie, born August 17, 1974; according to Cedella Booker she was the daughter of Rita and a man called Ital with whom Rita had an affair; nonetheless she was acknowledged as Bob's daughter;
  10. Julian, born June 4, 1975, to Lucy Pounder;
  11. Ky-Mani, born February 26, 1976, to Anita Belnavis;
  12. Damian, born July 21, 1978, to Cindy Breakspeare;
  13. Makeda, born May 30, 1981, to Yvette Crichton.

 

Tours

  • Apr–Jul 1973: Catch a Fire Tour (England, USA)
  • Oct–Nov 1973: Burnin' Tour (USA, England)
  • Jun–Jul 1975: Natty Dread Tour (USA, Canada, England)
  • Apr–Jul 1976: Rastaman Vibration Tour (USA, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, France, England, Wales)
  • May–Jun 1977: Exodus Tour (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, England)
  • May–Aug 1978: Kaya Tour (USA, Canada, England, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium)
  • Apr–May 1979: Babylon by Bus Tour (Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii)
  • Oct 1979–Jan 1980: Survival Tour (USA, Canada, Trinidad/Tobago, Bahamas, Gabon)
  • May–Sep 1980: Uprising Tour (Switzerland, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, USA)

Discography

  • Studio One Recordings:
    • The Wailing Wailers (1965)
  • Beverly's Recordings:
    • The Best of the Wailers (1970)
  • Trojan Recordings:
    • Soul Rebels (1970)
    • Soul Revolution (1971)
    • Soul Revolution Part II (1971)
    • African Herbsman (1973)
    • Rasta Revolution (1974)
  • Island/Tuff Gong Recordings:
    • Catch a Fire (1973)
    • Burnin' (1973)
    • Natty Dread (1974)
    • Live!: Recorded at The Lyceum Theatre, London (1975)
    • Rastaman Vibration (1976)
    • Exodus (1977)
    • Kaya (1978)
    • Babylon by Bus (1978)
    • Survival (1979)
    • Uprising (1980)
    • Chances Are (1981)
    • Confrontation (1983)
    • Legend (1984)

Awards and honours

  • 1976: Band of the Year (Rolling Stone)
  • June 1978: Awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations
  • February 1981: Awarded Jamaica's third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit
  • March 1994: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • 1999: Album of the Century for Exodus (Time magazine)
  • February 2001: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • February 2001: Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2004: Rolling Stone ranked him #11 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[35]
  • "One Love" named song of the millennium by The BBC
  • Voted as one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll.[36]
  • 2006 A plaque dedicated to him by Nubian Jak community trust and supported by Her Majesty's Foreign Office.[37]

Film adaptation's

In February 2008, director Martin Scorsese announced his intention to produce a documentary movie on Marley. The film is set to be released on February 6, 2010, on what would have been Marley's 65th birthday.[38] Recently, however, Scorsese dropped out due to scheduling problems. He is being replaced by Jonathan Demme.[39]

In March 2008, The Weinstein Company announced its plans to produce a biopic of Bob Marley, based on the book No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley by Rita Marley. Rudy Langlais will produce the script by Lizzie Borden and Rita Marley will exec produce.[40]

References and Notes

Wiki Source

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