Bob Marley's Biography

Bob Marley Bob Marley

Bob Marley


  • Born
    06 February 1945
  • Died
    11 May 1981
  • Sex
  • Nationality
  • Citizen

Bob Marley's name resounds in the minds of many, every time the word "reggae" is mentioned. This famous singer is known for his touching performances, starting initially as a part of the band 'The Wailers'. The band, consisting of famous artistes, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Junior Braithwaite, amongst others, produced some of the finest albums of their times. They are still known for hits like 'Simmer Down', 'Rude Boy', as well as cult albums like 'Catch a Fire', and 'Soul Revolution'. Once the band members separated and went their own ways, the famous singer found new artistes to collaborate with and continued releasing his albums as 'Bob Marley and The Wailers'. His first album, under this name, was 'Live!' after which he went on to produce records like 'Rastaman Vibration', 'Kaya', 'Exodus', and 'Babylon by Bus'. His album, 'Rastaman Vibration' was a record-breaking one, sealing his reputation as a peace-loving humanitarian. This singer was known for his staunch faith in the 'Rastafari Movement', which was reflected in the tracks he produced. After his death, caused by malignant melanoma, this distinguished personality has been showered with several prestigious honours, including the 'Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award'. Go on and explore more about his life and works.

Childhood & Early Life

Robert Nesta Marley was born to Norval Sinclair and Cedella Booker, in Nine Mile, Jamaica, on February 6, 1945. Norval worked as the supervisor at a plantation, when Bob was born, and Cedella was a singer-songwriter.

The young boy pursued his education from the institution 'Stepney Primary and Junior High School', located in the Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica. His father succumbed to a heart failure when Bob was but a child of ten years.

In school, the child had a friend, Neville Livingston, (later known as Bunny Wailer), whose father, Thadeus had a daughter, Pearl, with Bob's mother, Cedella. The two boys began collaborating on music, and soon formed a band along with friends, Beverley Kelso, Junior Braithwaite, and Peter Tosh.


It was in 1962, that Marley first released his singles, 'Do You Still Love Me?', 'Judge Not', 'Terror', and 'One Cup of Coffee', with the help of recording artist Leslie Kong.

The following year, the music band changed its name several times, finally to 'The Wailers'. It was initially 'The Teenagers', then 'The Wailing Rudeboys', and after that 'The Wailing Wailers'. It was when they became 'The Wailers', that record company owner, Coxsone Dodd, took notice of them.

In 1964, ‘The Wailers’ produced their debut track, 'Simmer Down', under Coxsone's banner. The next year, the reggae band released their first album, 'The Wailing Wailers', with the successful single, 'Rude Boy'.

In 1966, however, lead artistes, Junior Braithwaite and Beverley Kelso, left the band to pursue their solo careers.

'The Wailers' released their first international album, 'Soul Rebels' in 1970, with the help of recording artist, Lee "Scratch" Perry. The album was produced by 'Trojan Records' in the United Kingdom, and it became highly successful, being released later on several occasions by different music companies.

In 1971, the band released two popular albums, 'Soul Revolution', and 'The Best of the Wailers'. The latter ironically contained new tracks, and was not a collection of songs produced earlier.

The next year, Marley signed a contract with London-based 'CBS Records', and collaborated with American musician Johnny Nash for a tour of UK. During the same time, they got acquainted to Chris Blackwell, owner of 'Island Records'.

In 1972 Blackwell proposed that 'The Wailers' release a new album, and made a spot advanced payment of £4,000. He also signed Marley on for his record company as a substitute for the famous reggae artiste, Jimmy Cliff.

'The Wailers' released their next album, 'Catch a Fire' in 1973, for the label, 'Island Records'. It was moderately successful, with 14,000 copies being sold. The same year, the album 'Burnin' was produced, containing the hit track, 'I Shot the Sheriff'.

In 1974, Bob's band was supposed to kick-start seventeen concerts in the US, before other music groups took over. However, their popularity had grown to such an extent that their performance had to be stopped after the first four concerts.

The same year, 'The Wailers' disbanded, but Marley continued to belt solo albums and singles under the name 'Bob Marley and The Wailers'. The famous singer released the solo album, 'Natty Dread' in the year 1974, with popular singles like ‘No Cry’ and ‘No Woman’.

In 1975, Bob recorded the album, 'Live!' along with his new band members, Barrett, Tyrone Downie, Al Anderson, Junior Marvin, as well as brothers Aston and Carlton. The following year, he also produced the album, 'Rastaman Vibration', with the hit single, 'War'.

During 1977-78, this singer produced the albums 'Exodus', 'Kaya', and 'Babylon by Bus', the latter consisting of thirteen live performances, including the song, 'Jamming'. Around the same time, he made an appearance at the 'One Love Peace Concert', in Jamaica.

In the next two years, Marley released the commercially successful album 'Survival', with heart-rending tracks like 'Africa Unite', 'Zimbabwe', and 'Wake Up and Live'. He also released the album 'Uprising', with famous singles like 'Redemption Song' and 'Forever Loving Jah'.

During the same period, he performed at Boston's 'Amandla Festival', and at Pennsylvania's 'Stanley Theater'.

Major Works

Bob Marley is best known for his 1976 album, 'Rastaman Vibration', which broke all records in the United States. The track 'War' on the same album became historically famous owing to its strong condemnation of the practice of apartheid in South Africa. The song made it to the 'Billboard Soul Charts', as one of the top 50 numbers.

Awards & Achievements

From 1976-81, this celebrated Jamaican reggae artiste was presented with the 'United Nations' award titled 'Peace Medal of the Third World', and the 'Jamaican Order of Merit' from the nation's government.

Posthumously, in the 2000s, he has received several honours, including the 'Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award'. He has also been inducted into the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame', and the 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'. His band's album, 'Catch a Fire' has also been included in the 'Grammy Hall of Fame'.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1966, the catholic Bob Marley converted to 'Rastafari' religious faith, inculcating the movement's rituals and culture into the reggae music he played. He also used marijuana, and continued using it despite being arrested once for possession of the drug.

Marley got married to Alpharita Constantia Anderson, commonly known as Rita, on February 10, 1966, in Kingston. The couple had three children, Cedella, Ziggy, and Stephen.

The singer had children from other relationships too, though he was married only to Rita. He had also adopted the children Rita had borne from other affairs.

In 1977, Marley was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, or a kind of incurable skin cancer. It took four years for the disease to spread, and his health soon deteriorated.

The revered singer succumbed to his illness on May 11, 1981, at Miami's 'Cedars of Lebanon Hospital'. The funeral service, presided over by Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, was held in Jamaica, and he was interred at a chapel in his hometown, Nine Mile.

In 1983, a posthumous album titled 'Confrontation', containing the single 'Buffalo Soldier', was released.

Statues of this great singer have been erected at Kingston, Jamaica, as well as in the Banatski Sokolac village of Serbia.

Many festivals are held all around India to commemorate this brilliant singer's works. In 2012, the movie 'Marley', directed by Kevin Macdonald, was released.


Eric Clapton re-recorded this famous Jamaican reggae singer and his band's song in 1974, to make it the next song to become a hit after the single, 'Layla'.

Personal Quotes

1. “You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She's not perfect—you aren't either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break—her heart. So don't hurt her, don't change her, don't analyze and don't expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she's not there.” 

2. “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” 

3. “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

4. “He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” 

5. “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”

6. “None but ourselves can free our minds.” 

7. “One love, one heart, one destiny.” 

8. “If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing. If she's worth it, you wont give up. If you give up, you're not worthy. ... Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” 

9. “Don't Gain The World & Lose Your Soul, Wisdom Is Better Than Silver Or Gold.” 

10. “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively” 

11. “Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” 

12. “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” 

13. “The good times of today are the sad thoughts of tomorrow.”

14. “Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright” 

15. “You say you love rain, but you use an umbrella to walk under it. You say you love sun, but you seek shelter when it is shining. You say you love wind, but when it comes you close your windows. So that's why I'm scared when you say you love me.”

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