Today marks the 30th year since the untimely passing of Reggae’s greatest ambassador, Robert Nesta Marley better known as Bob Marley to the world. Marley, an iconic force in the world of reggae succumbed to cancer on May 11, 1981. Among his many musical contributions, he is credited for spreading Reggae music and the Rastafarian culture worldwide respectively.
His most popular hits include: “I Shot the Sheriff”, “One Love”, “No Woman, No Cry”, “Could You Be Loved” “Stir It Up”, “Jamming” , “Get Up, Stand Up” , and “Redemption Song.” Other favorites include “Three Little Birds” with the Wailers and posthumously “Buffalo Soldier” and “Iron Lion Zion.” His compilation album “Legend” has achieved Diamond status selling over 25 million copies since its debut in 1984. It is also Reggae music’s best selling album.
The singer born to Norval Marley, a white Jamaican of English descent and an Afro-Jamaican mother Cedella Booker embraced both sides of his racial ancestry. Marley, however, identified himself as a Black African and was a promoter of the Pan-African movement. In 1999, Time magazine proclaimed Bob Marley’s “Exodus” as the greatest album of the 20th century. Bob Marley’s image has now been commercialized around the world and has caused flack with many of his fans who consider this a watering down of the singer’s legacy.
Marley is the father to more than 10 children most by birth and two by adoption with several different women. Eleven of the thirteen children said to be his are mentioned on his official website. The most famous of the bunch being Ziggy, Damian (Jr. Gong), Stephen, Ky-Mani, Julian, Rohan, and Cedella (adopted), His grandchildren include rapper/singer/actress Lauryn Hill’s children with Rohan among others. Cedella has ventured into the world of fashion with her clothing line “Catch A Fire”. Her more famous brothers carry on the musical tradition of their father and the family name as a whole.
I grew up on Bob Marley’s music and can recite almost all of his songs without any conscious effort. Reggae had evolved into a mostly dancehall movement and uplifting messages such as Bob’s are few and far in between. The spirit of Marley lives on and like musical legends Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Tupac Shakur, and recently added to this list Michael Jackson, his music is very much alive and as relevant as it is was decades ago. This line from “Trenchtown Rock” summarizes it all, “One good thing about music, when it hits…you feel no pain!”
Check out the video for “Trenchtown Rock” below:
This Wednesday, May 11, will mark the 30th year since the death of reggae icon Bob Marley. The Bob Marley Foundation and the Bob Marley Museum are making preparations to mark this occasion.
Manager of the Foundation and Museum, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, remarks that the Marley family promotes the celebration of Bob Marley’s life and as such emphasis is usually placed on the commemoration of his birth. However, due to the significance of the 30th anniversary special arrangements will be made for the commemoration of the date at the museum located on Hope Road.
Flowers will be available for visitors to the museum on Wednesday, May 11, to place at the feet of the Marley statue on the grounds. Interested persons can donate additional flowers for this activity or simply lay their own at the statue. In an intriguing twist, a mento band will provide live renditions of Marley’s music throughout the day.
Additionally, donations of non-perishable items in aid of the Eira Schader (Trench Town) and Abuna Yeshaq (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) Golden Age homes will be accepted.
Marley succumbed to cancer in 1981, four years after he was initially diagnosed. He was in Miami on his way back to Jamaica from Germany.
His musical influence has received great attention since his passing. By the end of the last century he was declared one of the most influential musicians of all time. In 1999 Time magazine dubbed Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Exodus the greatest album of the 20th Century, while the BBC named One Love the song of the millennium.
Marley’s contribution to the world, however, far exceeds the brilliance of his musicianship. His music is laced with his revolutionary spirit fusing his insights with proverbial wisdom and the influences of Pan African leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie. His music remains inspiring, finding new audiences among the peoples of the world with whom his embodiment of a natural mystic continues to resonate.
Yet, for his daughter Cedella, it is the man, not the icon, who is most missed. “What I most miss about my father,” she says, “is … my father. The funny, kind, gentle and loving father.” She recalls, “One of my favourite quotes of my dad is, ‘Is not the people we come to play….we come to play music’.”
Marley’s children also continue to keep the Marley name current with their various endeavours and the manifestation of their own talent. Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani and Julian have successfully embarked on musical careers, while Cedella has explored the world of fashion through the Catch a Fire line. Marley’s face can also be seen on earrings, candles, clothing and numerous items.
While some have seen this as a watering down of Marley’s image as a soul rebel, his continued influence on the struggling peoples of the world belies this. Marley’s philosophies continue to resonate around the world in places like Tunisia, India, Nairobi, and among indigenous people of Australia and North America to whom Marley remains the soundtrack for redemption and revolution.
Stephen Marley has a simple message to all Marley fans to keep his father’s memory burning. “Spread his message of peace, love and equality,” he said.
Source: Jamaica Observer