Bob Marley

imageSinger songwriter and Reggae Legend Bob Marley was born 6 February 1945 in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish. He attended Stepney Primary and Junior High School. In 1955, when Bob Marley was 10 years old, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 70. Marley met Neville Livingston (later known as Bunny Wailer) while at Nine Mile and they started to play music together while at Stepney Primary and Junior High School.Marley left Nine Mile with his mother when he was 12 and moved to Trenchtown, Kingston. Cedella Booker and Thadeus Livingston (Bunny Wailer’s father) had a daughter together whom they named Pearl, who was a younger sister to both Bob and Bunny.

While Marley and Livingston were living in Trenchtown, they played the latest R&B from American radio stations broadcasting in Jamaica, and the new Ska music and joined a vocal group with Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso and Junior Braithwaite. Joe Higgs, who was part of the successful vocal act Higgs & Wilson, resided on 3rd St., and his singing partner Roy Wilson had been raised by the grandmother of Junior Braithwaite, so they met Higgs and Wilson who helped them develop their vocal harmonies, and Higgs also taught Marley how to play guitar. In February 1962, Marley recorded four songs, “Judge Not”, “One Cup of Coffee”, “Do You Still Love Me?” and “Terror”, and by 1963, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith were called The Teenagers. They later changed the name to The Wailing Rudeboys, then to The Wailing Wailers and finally The Wailers and achieved international fame through a series of crossover reggae albums and singles like “Simmer Down”. Soon The Wailers found themselves working with established Jamaican musicians such as Ernest Ranglin (arranger “It Hurts To Be Alone”),the keyboardist Jackie Mittoo and saxophonist Roland Alphonso.

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 to Wilmington, Delaware in the United States where he worked as a DuPont lab assistant and on the assembly line at a Chrysler plant. Though raised as a Catholic, Marley became interested in Rastafarian beliefs in the 1960s, and After returning to Jamaica Marley formally converted to Rastafari and began to grow dreadlocks. The Rastafarian proscription against cutting hair is based on the biblical Samson who as a Nazarite was expected to make certain religious vows After a financial disagreement with Dodd. Between 1968 and 1972, Bob and Rita Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer experimented with some old tracks to make them sound more pop orientated rather than reggae, in order to break Marley into the American charts. Marley also adopted a Doo-wop style on Stay With Me and a slow love song style on Splish for my Splash.

In 1972, Bob Marley signed with CBS Records in London and embarked on a UK tour with American soul singer Johnny Nash. While in London the Wailers signed to Island Records and were asked to record an album. So The Wailers returned to Jamaica and recorded the album Catch A Fire at Harry J’s in Kingston they were the first reggae band to have access to a state-of-the-art studio which resulted in a better sound. Catch a Fire had a drifting hypnotic feel rather than a Reggae Rhythm and was released in1973. It was followed by the album Burnin’ which included the song “I Shot the Sheriff”. Eric Clapton was given the album by his guitarist George Terry and was impressed enough to record a cover version of “I Shot the Sheriff” which became a hit in 1974. The Trenchtown style music of Burninfound appealed to fans of both reggae and rock. The Wailers also toured alongside Sly and the Family Stone but were fired because they were more popular than the acts they were opening for.

Sadly the Wailers disbanded in 1974, however 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 Andersonon lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl “Wya” Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson on percussion. With The “I Threes”, consisting of Judy Mowatt,Marcia Griffiths, and Marley’s wife, Rita, providing backing vocals and 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 United States, Rastaman Vibration (1976).

In December 1976, Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were wounded by an unknown assailant inside Marley’s home, shortly before “Smile Jamaica”, a free concert organised by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley to ease rival Political tensions, Taylor and Marley’s wife sustained serious injuries, and Bob Marley received minor wounds in the chest and arm.The attempt on his life was thought to have been politically motivated. Despite his injuries Marley performed at Smile Jamaica! 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 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.Marley left Jamaica at the end of 1976, and spent two years in self-imposed exile in England.

in England, he recorded the albums Exodus and Kaya which included the singles: “Exodus”, “Waiting in Vain”, “Jamming”, and “One Love” (a rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s hit, “People Get Ready”). While In London, he was arrested and received a conviction for possessing cannabis.In 1978, Marley returned to Jamaica and performed at another political concert, the One Love Peace Concert, then In 1979 Marley released Survival, a defiant and politically charged album, and songs 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. In early 1980, he was invited to perform at the 17 April celebration Zimbabwe’s Independence Day. Uprising (1980) was Bob Marley’s final studio album, it includes “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. In total Bob Marley and the Wailers released eleven albums were released, four live albums and seven studio albums. Including Babylon by Bus, a double live album with thirteen tracks, which was released in 1978

In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Marley turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated, citing his religious beliefs. Despite his illness, he continued touring and released the The album Uprising in May 1980 featuring “Redemption Song”. The band completed a major tour of Europe and Marley performed two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of the Uprising Tour. Bob Marley appeared at the Stanley Theater (now called The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September 1980 which was his last concert. Soon after Marley’s health deteriorated so he sought treatment at the Bavarian clinic of Josef Issels, where he received a controversial type of cancer therapy without success for eight months. Tragically While flying home from Germany to Jamaica, Marley’s condition worsened and After landing in Miami, Florida, he was taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention. Bob Marley died on 11 May 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami (now University of Miami Hospital); he was 36 years old. Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on 21 May 1981, combining elements ofEthiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition and was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his red Gibson Les Paul.

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