Bob Marley is one of the most intelligent men ever to chart a career in music. Yes, he had very little education; but, there is no denying his natural intellect. His proficiency with modern philosophy is a testament to this fact. By the way, education does not confer intelligence. It only compliments it with knowledge. The hereditary mechanics of brain power and wisdom are a different ballgame altogether.
Born in his native Jamaica as Nesta Robert Marley on February 6, 1945, his name was officially recognized as Robert Nesta Marley, because a passport clerk had mistakenly swapped the first and second names. Bob struggled as a child. Poverty was all around him despite his parents efforts to provide for him. His British father would die when the youngster was only ten. His Jamaican mother nurtured him as best as she could. Still, life remained tough!
Out of school before his fifteenth birthday, Bob Marley turned to his lifelong love for music. He has always enjoyed singing in his local church: alongside his mother and her friends. Patience was the name of the game, but encouragement mounted as he made friends with talented and determined minds like Joe Higgs, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh. The last two would join him in forming “The Wailers” in 1963.
Early career results were mixed in those days: as reggae was not the most sought-after tune of the 1960s. Bob Marley married Rita Anderson in 1966 and they continued looking for a breakthrough. It was only after the album titled “Catch A Fire” was released in 1973 that fortune smiled on them. However, irreconcilable differences saw The Wailers break-up the following year. Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh pursued solo careers. Bob and Rita Marley reorganized what was left of The Wailers, and went about their business as a group. They were known as: “Bob Marley & the Wailers”.
This new band had Bob Marley as its lead vocalist. He also handled a great deal of the rhythm guitar. Aston “Family Man” Barrett controlled the bass; while his brother Carlton “Country Man” Barrett was in charge of drums. The talented Junior Marvin and Al Anderson played the lead guitar. Alvin “Seeco” Patterson oversaw percussion, while Tyrone Downie and Earl “Wya” Lindo masterminded the keyboards. The last but never the least were the so-called “I Threes”. These background female vocalists consisted of Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths.
Within one year of its assembly, Bob Marley & the Wailers released their “Natty Dread” album. It was a success. The hit singles in it, “No Woman, No Cry”, brought the musicians immediate global recognition. Even folks, who otherwise were no fans of reggae, couldn’t resist the tenderness of that hit. It mutated into an unofficial anthem. But Marley and his group were just warming-up.
1975 saw them release the much-acclaimed “Rastaman Vibration”. With tracks like: ‘Crazy Bald Head’, ‘War’, ‘Rat Race’, and not to mention the album’s title track, this LP release remained on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for a full month. The masterful composing abilities of Bob Marley would be consolidated by “Exodus”. This album which was released in Britain remained on the British Album Charts for more than a year without any interruption. Like “Natty Dread’s” ‘No Woman, No Cry’ track, the hit singles of “Exodus” (like: ‘Waiting In Vain’, ‘Jamming’, and ‘One Love’) appealed to non-reggae fans: including women and children who never thought of ever having anything to do with that type of music.
The mid and late 1970s saw Bob Marley & the Wailers redefine reggae with the kind of tunes that would make even the most stolid infants rock with delight. He became a household name and was revered by the young and old, rich and poor. His superlative sense of rhythm yielded fantastic albums like: “Kaya”, “Survival”, and “Uprising”. The Rolling Stone magazine was so impressed that it named Bob Marley & the Wailers its 1976 band of the year. Although, I must add that: I am personally disappointed when the same Rolling Stone ranked Bob Marley a distant 11th in its list of 100 Greatest Artistes of All Time. That was in 2004, and I still believe that Bob should have been in the top three.
Reggae is certainly not my favorite music. But the creativity, which Bob Marley brought into it, is indescribable. He is without question, my All Time Favorite Male Composer. And before you shake your head in disappointment, I would urge you to stop dancing to his music and instead, sit and listen to its remarkable philosophies. Whether played in a car, in a room or in an open field, all Bob Marley’s rhythms are adaptive. The rich acoustics of their philosophical lyrics would compensate for any rise or fall in temperature in the play surroundings. Not many musicians are able to blend their stuffs this way.
Needless for me to add that the BBC (London), which is extremely fastidious and conservative with its awards selections, voted Bob Marley’s hit single: “One Love”, as the Song of the Millennium. I am quite delighted because ‘One Love’ is my favorite song of all time. My mother loves it very much, and I grew-up hearing it. Oh yes! You may dash off to YouTube now and be convinced by the quality of that tune. But in case you don’t have time for that, let me tell you this. The BBC is well aware that its countrymen, The Beatles, own the highest Number One chart-breakers in the history of music. But they were not swayed by nepotistic sentiments. They awarded Bob Marley’s “One Love” the Millennium honors based on honest and just considerations. And, I respect them till this day for such a brave effort. Meanwhile, do not forget to listen to “One Love” later, if you are too busy to do that now. A click on YouTube is all it will take.
Robert Nesta Marley died of brain cancer in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981. There is no doubt that generations yet unborn will arrive to appreciate his works. His “Confrontation” album, (which harbored mesmerizing tracks ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and ‘Chant Down Babylon’), was posthumously released in 1983. Bob Marley won virtually every music accolade that mattered during his days. He continues to win posthumous awards and prizes till date. Just three years ago, the State of New York renamed the Church Avenue, which linked Remsen Avenue to the East 98th Street in Brooklyn, “Bob Marley Boulevard”.
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Singer, musician, songwriter. Born on February 6, 1945, in Jamaica. Bob Marley helped introduce reggae music to the world and remains one of its most beloved artists to this day. The son of a black teenage mother and much older, later absent white father, he spent his early years in the rural village known as Nine Miles in the parish of St. Ann.
One of his childhood friends in St. Ann was Neville "Bunny" O'Riley Livingston. Attending the same school, the two shared a love of music. Bunny inspired Bob to learn to play the guitar. Later Livingston's father and Marley's mother became involved, and they all lived together for a time in Kingston, according to Christopher John Farley's Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley.
Arriving in Kingston in the late 1950s, Marley lived in Trench Town, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. He struggled in poverty, but he found inspiration in the music around him. Trench Town had a number of successful local performers and was considered the Motown of Jamaica. Sounds from the United States also drifted in over the radio and through jukeboxes. Marley liked such artists as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and the Drifters.
Marley and Livingston devoted much of their time to...