This is the story of a poor country boy from the ghettos of Kingston who rose to become a global pop star, political icon and spokesperson for the oppressed of the Third World. Bob Marley would celebrate his 75th birthday on February 6th, 2020. Unfortunately he didn’t make it that long. The king of reggae, who never wanted to be king, died of cancer in 1981 at the age of just 36. Even today his messages tell of charity and the fight for human rights.
Bob Marley & his importance for the music world
Marley was not only one of the most important representatives of Reggae but he was also one of the founders of the genre, which was to start its triumphal procession around the world with him and his band, The Wailers. Marley is still considered a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity today. For many people of the Third World he was an important spokesperson and an important identification figure. The singer, guitarist and songwriter was a convinced Rastafarian.
Voice of the oppressed
He was admired for the emotional, and often political, power of his music, revered as the bearer of hope for the oppressed, exploited and disenfranchised. He was always surrounded by mysteries, legends and conspiracy theories. He had survived an assassination attempt (with a bullet in his arm) and there were rumours that controversial physician, Dr. Josef Issels, was hired by the C.I.A. to slowly kill off Marley with his “treatments”. None of these theories have ever been verified.
Even after his death a real reggae brand
Completely undisputed, however, was Marley’s tendency to smoke marijuana, in fact, no other musical star has been more associated with it than him. He often spoke and sang of the “healing powers of nature“. After his death, his family even launched a premium cannabis variety on the market, with the characteristic brand name: “Marley Natural“. Numerous other products were marketed with his name. In 2014, he is ranked 5th on the Forbes list of deceased stars with the highest income.
Facts about Bob Marley
Bob was born on 06/02/1945 in Nine Miles, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica.
Marley’s father was British. Bobs’ nickname in the neighbourhood was “White Boy“.
At 21, he was an assembly line worker at Chrysler, where he wrote that song “Night Shift“.
“Get up, Stand up” became the unofficial anthem of Amnesty International.
His last concert was on 23/09/1980 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
Marley died on 11/05/1981 after cancer therapy on his return flight from Germany to Miami.
Bob Marley was known for his emblematic metaphors. Here are a few well-known quotes:
“You can’t find the right way on a paved road.”
“It is better to die fighting for freedom than to be a prisoner all your life.”
“Herb is the nation’s cure, alcohol is its destruction.”
“The good times today are the sad thoughts of tomorrow.”
Even though he is no longer with us, we say Happy Birthday on his 75th birthday!
Reggae – a special musical genre
Reggae has long been one of the most popular musical styles. The music style originated in Jamaica at the end of the ’60s. A little later the songs were commercially recorded and distributed in Great Britain. The international and worldwide triumphal procession took its course. From the beginning reggae was a mixture of different styles, originating, blending and developing ska and rocksteady music. The use of the bass as a percussion instrument and the slowed down tempos distinguished this new genre and often resulted in a trance-inducing performance. Since 2018 reggae is recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.