Who was Bob Marley?
Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica and he died in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981 of cancer.
This iconic singer and songwriter was generally regarded as the leader in first popularizing reggae music in the developed nations of the West and afro-centric identity free of imperial influence. Marley wrote of love and unity, of overcoming one’s own limitations and fears as a path to personal and public development and reward. At his wake in Jamaica, 30,000 admirers turned up to say goodbye to the fallen musician, and in some eyes, spiritual leader.
In 1963, after a couple of unsuccessful years as a solo artist, Marley joined forces with his friends and formed the group The Wailing Wailers. He had reunited with childhood friend Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston (who inspired Bob to learn to play the guitar) and a new acquaintance, Peter McIntosh (later to gain fame as Peter Tosh) who studied under the same music teacher Joe Higgs, to form The Wailing Wailers. The group became popular in Jamaica starting with their first hit single, “Simmer Down” that made it to the top of the Jamaican charts. Still, commercial success was difficult for the band and they drifted apart.
After a brief time living in the United States with his mother, Marley returned to Jamaica to form The Wailers with Livingston and McIntosh. The Wailers got their big break in 1972 when they landed a contract with Island Records, created by Chris Blackwell. From that point, The Wailers would go on to write and perform many hit albums and singles and to develop a strong, international following as they toured throughout Europe and the US though not without ups and downs along the way.
Even after his passing, Marley’s positive legacy also lives on through an organization committed to fighting oppression in his name. The Bob Marley Foundation was chartered to help people and organizations in developing nations. An excellent and detailed article about Bob Marley’s life can be found here.