Bob Marley was born in 1945 in the small Jamaican village of Nine Mile to mixed parents – his mother was Afro-Jamaican and his father white. Marley was passionate about music from a very early age, even dropping out of school at the age of 14 to pursue his dream of becoming a recording artist. After struggling for several years, a break came shortly after he founded the Wailers in the early 1960s. The band did not achieve immediate success, but did allow Marley to tour and record a number of singles. By 1973, the Wailers were signed to Island Records and touring with the likes of Sly and the Family Stone. Although the Wailers were to break up shortly thereafter, Bob Marley only continued to build momentum. 1974 saw the release of Natty Dread, featuring the classic, “No Woman, No Cry.” As his fan base continued to grow, so did Marley’s creativity and mastery as a songwriter. Exodus, which went on to be called ‘Album of the Century’ by Time Magazine, showcased timeless songs such as “Waiting in Vain,” “Jamming,” and “One Love.” Marley’s ascent to higher and higher levels of stardom showed no signs of slowing down, but tragedy was soon to follow. While touring in support of his Uprising album, Marley’s health rapidly deteriorated due to the spread of cancer to his brain and lungs. On the way back to his native soil of Jamaica, Marley died at just 36 years old. He was survived by eleven children, most of which – most notably Ziggy Marley and Damian Marley – have carried their father’s torch as active musicians.
Despite the tragedy of his shortened life, Marley achieved so much and touched so many lives that his peaceful, loving, and revolutionary spirit is still a part of popular culture all over the world. Bob Marley was fearless in his mission to promote peace in his lifetime. He performed the Smile Jamaica concert in 1976 just two days after surviving an assassination attempt in which gunmen wounded him, his wife, and his manager. 2 years later, Marley returned to Jamaica for another politically tense event, the One Love Peace Concert. Marley was the final act of the event, which closed by Marley bringing two of Jamaica’s most bitter political rivals out on stage to shake hands before a massive audience. This is the kind of togetherness that Bob Marley was able to inspire in his lifetime, and that he continues to inspire many years after his death.