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46 Facts About Bob Marley

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Bob Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, guitarist, musician and a songwriter, famous for his distinctive songwriting and vocal style. Here are 46 facts about the singer:

Photo of Bob MARLEY; Posed portrait of Bob Marley
(Photo : Ebet Roberts/Redferns) Photo of Bob MARLEY; Posed portrait of Bob Marley
  1. Born as Robert Nesta Marley on 6 February 1945 in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica to Norval Sinclair Marley and Cedella Booker.
  2. His father is a white Jamaican from Sussex, England who claimed to have been a captain in Royal Marines. However on the time of his marriage he was a plantation overseer.
  3. His father died of heart attack at the age of 70 when junior Marley was only 10. His father supported the family financially even though he was away all the time.
  4. Marley and Neville Livingston, who later changed his name to Bunny Wailer and formed a band with him, were childhood friends since Nile Mile.
  5. Marley’s mother Booker later married Wailer’s father Thadeus Livingston. They both had a daughter named Pearl.
    Musician Bob Marley performs onstage at the Auditorium Theater, Chicago, Illinois, May 27, 1978.
    (Photo : Paul Natkin/Getty Images) Musician Bob Marley performs onstage at the Auditorium Theater, Chicago, Illinois, May 27, 1978.
  6. Marley moved to Trenchton, Kingston with his mother when he was 12. There he formed a vocal group with Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso and Junior Braithwaite.
  7. Marley learned playing guitar from Roy Wilson who was residing on the next street. Wilson along with Joe Higgs was a successful vocal group “Higgs and Wilson” and practiced on the back of houses between Second and Third Streets.
  8. He was a devout follower of Rastafari movement which was instrumental in the development of Reggae music.
  9. He was part of denomination “Tribe of Joseph” which is one among the twelve Tribe of Rastafari movements. The twelve tribes represent the twelve months and he belonged to Tribe of Joseph as he was born in February.
  10. Months before his death he was baptized into Ethiopian Orthodox Church on 4 November 1980 by Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq.
    Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter and musician Bob Marley (1945 - 1981) at the offices of Island Records, London, 24th July 1975.
    (Photo : Michael Putland/Getty Images) Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter and musician Bob Marley (1945 - 1981) at the offices of Island Records, London, 24th July 1975.
  11. On 10 February 1966 he married Alpharita Constantia Rita Anderson in Kingston, Jamaica. He has three children with her not including the two from Rita’s former marriage.
  12. Even though he was married only once he has total of eleven children according to his official website. He has 3 three children with Rita and two adopted from her previous marriage and 6 more with several other women.
  13. Apart from music he was attracted to football and it played the major role in his life. He once told a journalist, “If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers.”
  14. His strong Rastafari religious beliefs made him Pan-Africanist meaning unity of African people worldwide. It was evident in most of his songs such as “Exodus”, “Survival”, “Zimbabwe”, “Redemption Song” and “Black Redemption.”
  15. He believed in the unity of African people and independence of African countries from European power as a victory for all black people. He drew most if his influences from the speech of Marcus Garvey and used it in his songs.
    Photo of Bob MARLEY, Bob Marley performing live on stage
    (Photo : Rob Verhorst/Redferns) Photo of Bob MARLEY, Bob Marley performing live on stage
  16. When he converted to Rastafari religion from Catholicism in 1966 he also started the use of Marijuana. He believed that the use of the drug helps in religious growth and makes one wiser.
  17. When asked about the use of drug he said, “"When you smoke herb, herb reveal yourself to you. All the wickedness you do, the herb reveals itself to you, your conscience, show up yourself clear, because herb make you meditate. Is only a natural t'ing and it grow like a tree."
  18. He released a song “One Cup of Coffee” in February 1962 under the pseudonym Bobby Martell. Three more songs “Do You Still Love Me”, “Judge Not” and “Terror” were recorded for the local music producer Leslie Kong.
  19. The band consisting of him along with Wailer, Braithwaite, Tosh, Kelso and Smith were called as “The Wailers”. However it was first called as “The Teenagers” and then changed to “The Wailing Rudeboys” and again changed to “The Wailing Wailers” before settling on the final name.
  20. His interest in Rastafari belief started in 1960 when he was away from his catholic mother. After converting to the religion he started growing dreadlocks as in the Rastafari religion the cutting of hair is prohibited.

  21. The single “Simmer Down” recorded for the record producer Coxsone Dodd became a number one in Jamaica in February 1964. It was estimated that 70000 copies were sold at that time.
  22. After his marriage to Rita in 1966, he moved to Delaware, USA near his mother’s residence. His stay in US saw him work as a DuPont lab assistant. He even worked in a Chrysler plant under a false name Donald Marley.
  23. Many still believe that the finest works by “The Wailers” was during the time with producer Lee Perry and his studio band “The Upsetters.” Marley and friends split from Dodd after a financial disagreement.
  24. Reggae archivist Roger Steffens believes that the 24 minute video tape consisting of Marley performing several compositions composed by himself and by Jimmy Norman and Al Pyfrom is very rare. The rareness of the tape is due to the songs being influenced by pop rather than reggae to break Marley into US charts.
  25. First time a reggae band from Jamaica had an access to state of the art studio was when The Wailers recorded the album “Catch a Fire” for producer Chris Balckwell. Blackwell wanted to snare the rock audience with the mixture of rock and reggae music.
    Photo of Bob MARLEY; Bob Marley performing live on stage
    (Photo : Echoes/Redferns) Photo of Bob MARLEY; Bob Marley performing live on stage
  26. “Catch a Fire” didn’t make Marley a star but his next album “Burnin” found many fans across both rock and reggae audiences. 14000 copies of “Catch a Fire” were sold initially.
  27. “I Shot the Sheriff” from the album “Burnin” impressed Eric Clapton very much that he recorded a cover version of the song and it was very successful. On 14 September 1974, it made it to the #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  28. He received Blackwell’s residence “Island House” at 56 Hope Road as a gift. The property which included Tuff Gong Studios became his office as well as home.
  29. In 1974 “The Wailers” broke up and each of them started pursuing solo careers. Many believe that disagreement in performances between the three was the reason for split.
  30. The Wailers were fired from a show because they were more popular than the acts they were opening for. They were scheduled for 17 shows for “Sly and the Family Stone” but finished only 4 before being fired.
    Bob Marley (1945 - 1981) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 1979, prior to his appearance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival.
    (Photo : Denis O'Regan/Getty Images) Bob Marley (1945 - 1981) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 1979, prior to his appearance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival.
  31. His first international success outside Jamaica was “No Women No Cry” from the album “Natty Dread” in 1975. The live version of the song was ranked at #37 in the list of “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list”.
  32. “Rastaman Vibration” in 1975 was another very big successful album particularly in United States. It made to the top 50 in Billboard Soul Chart and at #51 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  33. Marley and his wife Rita along with manager Don Taylor were injured in an attempt at their life by unknown gunmen in his home, few days before the concert “Smile Jamaica” organized by Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley.
  34. His album “Exodus” in 1977 made to the top of British album chart and stayed there for 56 consecutive weeks. Singles “Exodus”, “One Love”, “Waiting in Vain” and “Jamming” from the album were big hits in UK.
  35. During his time in England he was arrested and convicted for possession of small quantity of marijuana.
  36. In 1983 “Confrontation” was released which included many previously unreleased recorded materials. It also included the song “Buffalo Soldier” and few other singles previously only available in Jamaica.
  37. “Uprising” in 1980 was his last album before his death. He completed a major tour of Europe and proceeded to America where he performed two shows.

  38. He was found to have a malignant cancer under the nail of his toe in 1977. He refused to get his toe amputated as it was against his Rastafari beliefs. However he removed the nail bed completely and used skin grafting to cover that area.
  39. He lost his life on 11 May 1981 at the age of 36 in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami. The cause of death was due to the spread of cancer to his lungs and brain.
  40. His final words in the death bed to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.”
  41. On 21 May 1981 he was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his guitar Gibson Les Paul. His burial took place with both Ethiopian and Rastafari tradition in a state funeral in Jamaica.
  42. A statue of Bob Marley was erected on the street next to the national stadium on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston.
  43. A documentary about his life titled “Rebel Music” won many awards at Grammys. Marley’s wife Rita, The Wailers, his lovers and children along with few words from himself contributed to the documentary.
    Photo of Bob MARLEY; Posed portrait of Bob Marley. The photograph was taken in his hotel room at the St Moritz Hotel on September 21, 1980.
    (Photo : Ebet Roberts/Redferns) Photo of Bob MARLEY; Posed portrait of Bob Marley. The photograph was taken in his hotel room at the St Moritz Hotel on September 21, 1980.
  44. Movie titled “Marley” was released on 20 April 2012 was directed by Kevin Macdonald who replaced Jonathan Demme due to creative difference with producer Steve Bing. Initially Martin Scorsese was to direct the movie but dropped out due to scheduling problems.
  45. A novel based on an attempted assassination on Marley titled “A Brief History of Seven Kilings” by Marlon James won 2015 Man Booker Prize in London.
  46. In 2008 it was revealed that a biopic on him based on the book “No Women No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley” by Rita Marley was in the process. She was to be the executive producer.

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