Bob Marley. I had always heard his name and knew him for his popular songs, and I’d even been to Reggae Sunsplash at Irvine Meadows to see Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. But it wasn’t until one late night as I sat alone in my room, a struggling single-mom with a 7yr-old boy, wondering what the rest of my life would be like when “No Woman, No Cry” came on the radio.
I’d heard the song a million times, but this time it hit me differently. I heard Bob telling ME… No Woman, No Cry. Telling me that MY feet are my only carriage, so I’ve got to push on through. It was then my obsession started. Not long after that, I had the words No Woman, No Cry tattooed on the top of my foot to remind me of the message in the song. I was reading anything and everything I could about him. One of my favorite reads being the book, “No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley,” by his beloved wife, Rita.
NO WOMAN, NO CRY | 1979
I had over 300 Bob Marley songs on my iPodmini, and soon, my 7-year-old could name every child of Bob Marley…in order and would ask me to always play his favorite song, “Hammer.” My stories could go on for days! His music and legacy have influenced my life profoundly.
In celebration of what would’ve been his 75th birthday this year, I can’t wait to share with you in 4-part series about Bob Marley’s legacy, the upcoming YouTube 12 part Docuseries, the family’s continued contribution to the Rasta nation since his passing, as well as the recent release of the EP “Iron, Lion, Zion” and their exclusive new merchandise!
In this series, I will share with you the history and musical legacy of the beloved Bob Marley.The legendary Robert “Nesta” Marley was born on February 6, 1945, to Norval Sinclair Marley and Cedella Malcolm in the Nine Mile Village of British Jamaica. Marley’s father was a white British Naval Captain who, at the age of 60, met and married Bob’s mother, Cedella, who was only 19 years old at the time. His mother was a simple country villager who met theelder Marley while he was a supervisor on a plantation. The couple quickly became pregnant and split shortly after Bob’s birth. Norval Marley reportedly died of a heart attack when Bob was just ten years old.
As a young boy in Nine Mile, Bob met Neville Livingston, “Bunny Wailer,” and the two began playing music together while in primary school and junior high. In 1957, at the age of 12, Bob and his mother moved to Trenchtown, Kingston, where she would give birth to a daughter that she shared with Bunny’s father. The move to Trenchtown came to be the birthplace of the core of Bob Marley and The Wailers with Bob and Bunny meeting Peter Tosh there.
By 1964, the band had been discovered by Coxsone Dodd and recorded the single “Simmer Down,” selling nearly 70,000 copies, introducing ska beats to the world. In 1966, Bob married Rita Anderson, and shortly after left Jamaica and Rita behind to live with his mother, Cedella, briefly in the United States. It was then that the song “No Woman, No Cry” was written for Rita.
SIMMER DOWN by Bob Marley and The Wailers
Although raised Catholic, Marley became interested in the Rastafari community and converted upon his return to Jamaica. The bands’ sound changed from their original ska beat to the more beautiful island sounds and were signed to Island Records in the early 1970s.
Bob became quite the political activist, and in 1978, he and his wife and friends were attacked at their compound by an unknown gunman. After being grazed by gunfire, two days later, Bob, Rita, and the I-Threes performed at the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, Jamaica, at The National Stadium. It was here that he made history by facilitating a peaceful handshake between Prime Minister Michael Manely and opposition leader Edward Seaga. Shortly after, Marley relocated to London permanently.
The Moment That Helped Heal a Nation
Marley gained international success following the release of the albums “Catch a Fire” and “Burning,” both released in 1973. After the disbandment of The Wailers, in 1974, Marley began releasing solo material. While living in London, he recorded the album “Exodus,” introducing a new sound that included aspects of blues and British Rock.
Marley released 13 studio albums and 133 singles, with many hitting the top 40 charts. He received the United Nations Peace Medal of the Third world in 1978. While Marley was never awarded a Grammy, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. The song “One Love” was declared the Song of the Millennium by the BBC. And, in 2010, the album “Catch A Fire” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
ONE LOVE by Bob Marley
After marrying Rita, she toured with Bob as part of the vocal back up trio the I Threes along with Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. They had three children together, daughter Cedella, and sons David “Ziggy,” and Stephen “Raggamuffin.” While on tour, Bob was not always faithful, but Rita knew this. For neither was she. He fathered eight more children with eight different women, while it is rumored that there are more unclaimed children out there, while she had three children fathered by other men.
Bob and Rita Marley
Those that have followed in their fathers’ musical footsteps are David “Ziggy,” Stephen”Raggamuffin,” Julian “Ju Ju,” Ky-Mani, who also has had a successful acting career, and Damian “Jr. Gong”. Bob’s son Rohan was sent to live with his grandmother Cedella in Florida. He attended The University of Miami, where he played as a linebacker for the schools’ football team. Rita raised many of the children that were not born to her as her own at the compound on Hope Road in Jamaica.
ALL NIGHT by Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley (feat. Stephen Marley)
Bob was a big soccer player. It was while playing soccer he discovered a problem with his toe. Marley was diagnosed with cancer under the nail of his toe in July of 1977. He went against his doctor’s recommendations to have the toe amputated, claiming his religious beliefs went against such surgeries.
He continued life as usual; while being ill, he released the album “Uprising” and completed a successful European tour, playing his biggest concert ever in Milan to over 100,000 people. Following the tour in Europe,Marley and the band came to the US to perform at Madison Square Garden. While on a jog in Central Park, he collapsed and was brought to the hospital. It was discovered that the cancer had spread to his brain. His final performance was at The Stanley Theater in Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980.
Not long after, Marley’s condition worsened; his cancer had spread throughout his body. He sought alternative treatment in Bavaria, but after no improvements, he returned to Jamaica. It was while in transit from Germany to Jamaica that he took a turn for the worse. Upon landing in Miami, Florida, he was transported to the hospital where he died on May 11, 1981. His final words to his son Ziggy were, “Money can’t buy life.”
STIR IT UP By Bob Marley and The Wailers
Marley’s beautiful musical legacy has transcended generation after generation. His Grammy award-winning children and his grandsons Skip, Jo Mersa, Bambatta, and granddaughter Mystic continue to carry his message as they tour with their family.
At the same time, granddaughter Shacia Payne shares her musical gifts as a successful DJ. The family has also been successful in continuing his legacy in other ways, which I will share with you in part three of this series.
REDEMPTION SONG by Bob Marley and the Wailers
“Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom? ‘Cause all I ever have, Redemption songs”
Stay tuned in for part two of this series, where I will dive into the upcoming 12 part YouTube Docu-series where you can learn more about the amazing performer, his family, and more.
BUFFALO SOLDIER By Bob Marley and the Wailers
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain