Happy Birthday, Bob Marley : Flipping Through His Life 

Author : Maanvi Agarwal


“When I was just a little child (little child)

Happiness was there awhile (there awhile)

And from me it…it slipped one day

Happiness come back I say…”

This is exactly how I still feel when I listen to Bob Marley’s song. He was passion, happiness, drugs and smoke all in one for millions of people and music lovers. He sang, not slogans but ‘Legends’ and this man can never fade. A Rastafarian, and one the most eminent musician of the musical trend reggae (denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento and calypso music, as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues) is going to celebrate his 71st  birthday on the coming 6th February, 2016. Jamaica, homeland of Marley will prepare activities to pay homage to him.

The Observer, official activities will start on February 6 at Bob Marley Museum House, where there will be a ceremony of releasing white pigeons with the sounds of a ram horn and Nyabinghi Rasta drums, as instruments used by Jamaican slaves during colonial times.

There will be three seminars on Rastafarism, sustainable agriculture and development of reggae in Jamaica, followed by a concert with prominent artists of Jamaica like Jesse Royal and Kelissa Mahr. The festivities may last for six days.

Marley performed his last concert at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 23rd September 1980, before his death in 1981, at the age of 36. Chris Salewicz, the author of Bob Marley: The Untold Story recalls the first time he heard ‘The Redemption Song’, considered widely as Bob Marley’s finest song, summarizing his beliefs and everything he stood for in one simple, acoustic performance. “It sounded absolutely extraordinary. I saw him perform it at his last London show, at the Crystal Palace. It was the last song of all. That’s the last song I saw him do. It’s obviously magnificent. It’s a masterpiece. When he was recording his last album Uprising, [the head of his label] Chris Blackwell supposedly asked him near the end of the sessions if he had anything more and he came back the next day with ‘Redemption Song.'”



Bob Marley’s performance at the Crystal Palace in 1980.


He was remembered after his death through several film adaptations and documentaries. Rebel Music, a documentary about his life, won various awards at Grammys. The song One Love was named the song of the millennium by BBC.

Despite being recognised as a celebutante, Bob Marley was dedicated to his work, demanding and yet somehow relaxed. He was very humble, quiet and hesitant. Chris Salewicz says, “It was very revealing about him, really. There was this humility about him. After I interviewed him I was heading on from Jamaica to New York, so I had a heavy coat draped over my bag when I was getting ready to leave for the airport. While we were standing there talking, saying our goodbyes, Bob picked up my coat and moved it into the shade. He told me it was so the sun wouldn’t bleach it. There aren’t many A-list stars who would ever do that.”

We all know who Bob Marley was but there can never be enough reasons to love him. We will give you 6 facts about him that will give a deeper understanding into his life and his spirit that fully enjoyed the short time and beyond.


From ‘white boy’ to ‘God’s man’;

From fortune-teller to Singer

Nicknamed as “white boy” in childhood



Nesta Robert Marley was born to a white British naval captain named Norval Sinclair Marley, aged 60 at the time and Cedella who was a 19 year old village girl. Bob was often bullied because of his mixed racial identity and was named “White Boy”. This, however he tackled with perseverance which later helped him develop his philosophy:


Despite having a knack of predicting futures by reading palms (a skill he successfully used to scare people), he declared that his destiny was to become a singer, after spending a year in the ghettos of Kingston. However it was easier than done. He and his friend Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh spent their time listening to American radio stations while living in Kingston’s Trench Town, a desolate poor slum. This led them to name their band the Wailing Wailers, as they were ghetto sufferers.


Wailers and reaching new heights,

nationally and internationally.


During the 1960s, Wailers recorded for a number of Jamaican labels, during which the ska bsound became the popular, hot sound. Marley took another step forward with his first recording in 1964, which became a number one hit in Jamaica, selling nearly 100,000 copies. While team Marley, Wailer and Tosh developed a completely unique style for ten years before the band’s Island Records debut in 1973, which became a popular hit with the international audiences, Tosh and Marley left the band in 1974.  They teamed up with Lee Perry and Perry’s studio band, The Upsetters. Together, Marley and Perry created the Wailer’s best work. They worked together for a year, with Perry acting as a teacher and a guide to Marley in his vocal learning, but later separated due to work disputes.


The later Wailers, including Way Lindo, Alvin Seeco and Tyrone Earl were also addictive and generally more famous with the fans. Changes were taking both outside and inside Marley as his lyrics took a more spiritual turn, turning his lyrics to a more sensual rhythm of rock. “The Wailers had a thing you can’t just buy”, Ziggy Marley says. “You can’t just rent musicians who can do that. They had something there that was like intuitive. They all believed in a certain philosophy and way of life. They were a unit.”


Escaping Assassination,

and towards revolution.


Marley had organized the Smile Jamaica Concert in 1976, so that the political unrest in Jamaica could be calmed, but it was co-opted by the ruling party. A gunman had tried to assassinate Marley, along with his wife and manager, Rita and Don Taylor at their Kingston home to prevent Marley from performing at the concert. They survived and Marley later turned a one song appearance into a spectacular 90- minute performance at the concert turning him into a legend.


Marley wasn’t political but he was a leader whose “…songs are those that inspired the guerrilla fights out in the bush”. After Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Marley held a concert in that country, but it had to be stopped as people burst down the stadium gate to get in and tear gas were shot. Marley’ son, Ziggy recalls he event, “It was a powerful time in his life to be part of something that he spoke about and sung about”.

Not forgetting his roots, football

Marijuana and dreadlocks!
Marley was looking after a lot of people; he was proud of being a part of the Trench Town but was also aware of the great poverty of his country. He would hand out school uniforms and book money, to hundreds of mothers who would surround him. Since people couldn’t rely on politicians, he was happy to oblige without any selfishness.

His belief in Rastafarism led him to grow out his hair in dreadlocks and smoke marijuana, as it was believed to be a healing herb supposed to bring enlightenment. His family even started Marley Natural, world’s first global marijuana brand developed from the “heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains”, which Marley personally enjoyed.

Football played a major part in his life, apart from enjoying the game he surrounded himself with people related to the sport, like Jamaican international player, Allan ‘Skill’ Cole.  He told a journalist,

Brand endorsements,

Coffee and Tuff Gong


Apart from endorsing his very own weed, Marley’s son founded Marley Coffee which comes from Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, one of the world’s most expensive and prized coffee-producing regions.

Tuff Gong is a merchandising brand and recording label, which beacame popular among the reggae artists. It was Marley’s nickname and is a moniker of the nickname given to the founder of the Rastafari movement, Leonard “the Gong” Howell. It still boasts a full-servicing record studio in Jamaica.


A soul full of passion, intensity, rebelliousness and what else?



It can never be enough, the amount of dedication Bob Marley showed to his songs and his ideals, and what his fans all over the world showed him and still do. His name has become synonymous to a religion for music-lovers and for all types of people fighting dictatorialship or control or any form of subservience. His songs resonate with the past, present and even the future. The depth of his songs comes from his background which always remained humble but still with a sense of spiritual anger. Don Letts said, “…I’ll tell you something, it’s easier to pick the rebellious songs, but what I liked about  Bob was that he was like a double-edged sword. On one side, he was the kind of rebel, rude boy, but on the other side, he was kind of a spiritual lover. Songs like ‘Could You Be Loved’ for instance, or even, ‘Satisfy My Soul.’ John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Bob Marley… They weren’t one-dimensional, these people. They weren’t caricatures. They embraced the range of human emotions. Sometimes you had to fight, but you also had to sometimes know when to stop fighting and make love.”


And we all know how important that idea is, but loving is not easy and not for the weak people, but accepting challenges and fighting them in a non-conventional way is what Bob Marley taught us because since emotions have no language, singing is just a physical form that can be understood by any religion and race as long as they can feel its music, its power and the person who speaks through.




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