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:
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AFP) — Bob Marley’s musical legacy may be waning 30 years after his death as Jamaica’s youth prefers dancehall to reggae, but the singer remains a cult, if highly commercialised, figure.
Marley has become a merchandiser’s dream, with everything from shoes to snowboards bearing his image, but his friends say it would be tragic if his message of justice for the oppressed gets lost to corporate greed.
“He was never about commercialism,” one friend, Herbie Miller, told AFP. “Money was not his greatest motivation.”
For loyal fans of the Third World’s first pop superstar, who died from cancer at the age of 36 on May 11 1981, this year’s milestone anniversary is not about grieving but about celebrating.
“His music was so full of life, it doesn’t seem right to mourn him,” 24-year-old Bernadette Hellwanter of Vocklabruck, Austria told AFP as she toured the Bob Marley Museum in the Jamaican capital Kingston.
Nickia Palmer stopped briefly to peer at a photo of the dreadlocked legend playing his trademark Gibson guitar.
“The first performance I ever did was at Mount Vernon high school in Fairfax, Virginia and it was No Woman No Cry,” recalled the 33-year-old Jamaican singer, who has spent most of his life in the United States.
Fans flock to the museum, an English-style building where Marley lived and wrote many of his songs.
Tours are also conducted daily in the village of Nine Mile in the rural St Ann parish where Marley was born in February 1945 and where a mausoleum now provides his final resting place.
But despite all the T-shirts, the mugs and the many iconic images of the pot-smoking, football-loving Rastafarian, there is a sense his star could be beginning to fade.
The Marley Foundation, which oversees the singer’s estate, says no events are planned to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.
Music from the rebel who introduced reggae to an international audience gets only token play nowadays on the local radio and his message appears lost on today’s Jamaican youth.
Feel-good songs like Three Little Birds and One Love are preferred to more militant tracks such as Exodus or The Heathen.
According to Miller, the ubiquitous One Love has reduced Marley’s revolutionary message to a catchphrase for Jamaica’s tourism industry.
“This is a man who took a bullet for his country. The powers that be in Jamaica are trying to make him soft,” he said.
In Trench Town, the Kingston ghetto that inspired some of Marley’s most memorable songs, there are few visitors to the tenement where he once lived during the 1960s.
Artefacts include the shell of a Volkswagen van that Marley used to sell his records and a bed he slept on.
“As someone who was born in Trench Town, ‘Gong’ (Marley’s nickname) had a big impact (on me),” 48-year-old roots-reggae singer I-Cient-Cy Mau told AFP.
“Him always had time for the youths an’ that’s something missing from reggae today.”
But the sounds Marley made during the 1970s appear almost foreign to today’s Jamaican youth, more caught up with flamboyant dancehall acts like Vybz Kartel and Movado.
Overseas, perhaps, there is more room for nostalgia.
Marley performed twice in his life in Belgium, but according to Brice DePasse, a Belgian journalist with the Nostalgie television station, he left an indelible mark.
“He’s been big in Belgium since 1977 when he first performed there. There’s not a day that his music is not played,” said DePasse.
To commemorate his death, Nostalgie will air the hour-long documentary In The Footsteps of Bob Marley today.
Source: Jamaica Observer
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
Nearly 10,000 fans will pack Peacock Park in Coconut Grove to witness the Essence of Reggae Music. Organized by Alfonso D’ Nicsio Brooks and the ROCKAZ MVMT, the free Miami reggae festival seeks to spread peace, love and unity in the Miami community on Saturday, April 30. –a.r.
How did the festival come about?
It started in November of last year. We did the Reggae Woodstock at Bayside. It paid homage to vintage reggae. We had such a tremendous turnout, so we wanted to give back by doing a free concert. During the process, we reached out to the Curley’s House charity. So, we want all fans to bring a can good when they come.
Why is it important to keep the culture alive?
We pay homage to the foundation of reggae. With it becoming commercial, they left behind the true foundation of the music. We did research and decided to reintroduce Bob Marley’s “One Love” movement. Some people can’t travel to the Caribbean, so we want to bring the Caribbean to Miami.
What advice would you give to others who are thinking of going into the entertainment business?
You have to believe anything is possible. Believe in the work, and it will come to fruition. There’s no such thing as “I can’t do.” Challenges will arrive, but you use those challenges to make you stronger.
Written by: Amir Shaw