Bob Marley facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Marley performing in Dalymount Park in Dublin, July 1980
Robert Nesta Marley
6 February 1945
Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Colony of Jamaica
|Died||11 May 1981
|Partner(s)||Cindy Breakspeare (1977–1978)|
|Associated acts||Bob Marley and the Wailers|
Robert Nesta Marley OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, musician, and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by fusing elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, as well as his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Marley's contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide, and made him a global figure in popular culture to this day. Over the course of his career, Marley became known as a Rastafari icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is also considered a global symbol of Jamaican music and culture and identity, and was controversial in his outspoken support for democratic social reforms. In 1976, Marley survived an assassination attempt in his home, which was thought to be politically motivated.
Born in Nine Mile, Jamaica, Marley began his professional musical career in 1963, after forming the Teenagers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, which after several name changes would become the Wailers. The group released its debut studio album The Wailing Wailers in 1965, which contained the single "One Love", a reworking of "People Get Ready"; the song was popular worldwide, and established the group as a rising figure in reggae. The Wailers released a further eleven studio albums, and after signing to Island Records the band's name became Bob Marley and the Wailers. While initially employing louder instrumentation and singing, the group began engaging in rhythmic-based song construction in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which coincided with Marley's conversion to Rastafari. Around this time, Marley relocated to London, and the group embodied their musical shift with the release of the album The Best of The Wailers (1971).
The group started to gain international attention after signing to Island, and touring in support of the albums Catch a Fire and Burnin' (both 1973). Following the disbandment of the Wailers a year later, Marley carried on under the band's name. The album Natty Dread (1974) received positive reception. In 1975, following the global popularity of Eric Clapton's version of Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", Marley had his international breakthrough with his first hit outside Jamaica, with a live version of "No Woman, No Cry", from the Live! album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the United States, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which reached the Top 50 of the Billboard Soul Charts. A few months after the album's release Marley survived an assassination attempt at his home in Jamaica, which prompted him to permanently relocate to London. During his time in London he recorded the album Exodus (1977); it incorporated elements of blues, soul, and British rock and enjoyed widespread commercial and critical success. In 1977, Marley was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma; he died as a result of the illness in 1981, shortly after baptism into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His fans around the world expressed their grief, and he received a state funeral in Jamaica.
The greatest hits album Legend was released in 1984, and became the best-selling reggae album of all time. Marley also ranks as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of more than 75 million records worldwide. He was posthumously honoured by Jamaica soon after his death with a designated Order of Merit by his nation. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. His other achievements include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame.
Early life and career
Robert Nesta Marley was born on 6 February 1945 at the farm of his maternal grandfather in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, to Norval Sinclair Marley and Cedella Malcolm. Norval Marley was from Crowborough, East Sussex in England, then resident of Clarendon Parish, Norval claimed to have been a captain in the Royal Marines; at the time of his marriage to Cedella Malcolm, an Afro-Jamaican then 18 years old, he was employed as a plantation overseer. Bob Marley's full name is Robert Nesta Marley, though some sources give his birth name as Nesta Robert Marley, with a story that when Marley was still a boy, a Jamaican passport official reversed his first and middle names because Nesta sounded like a girl's name. Norval provided financial support for his wife and child but seldom saw them as he was often away. Bob Marley attended Stepney Primary and Junior High School which serves the catchment area of Saint Ann. In 1955, when Bob Marley was 10 years old, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 70. Marley's mother went on later to marry Edward Booker, a civil servant from the United States, giving Marley two half-brothers: Richard and Anthony.
Bob Marley and Neville Livingston (later known as Bunny Wailer) had been childhood friends in Nine Mile. They had started to play music together while at Stepney Primary and Junior High School. Marley left Nine Mile with his mother when he was 12 and moved to Trenchtown, Kingston. She and Thadeus Livingston (Bunny Wailer's father) had a daughter together whom they named Claudette Pearl, who was a younger sister to both Bob and Bunny. Now that Marley and Livingston were living together in the same house in Trenchtown, their musical explorations deepened to include the new ska music, and the latest R&B from United States radio stations whose broadcasts reached Jamaica. Marley formed a vocal group with Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh. The line-up was known variously as the Teenagers, the Wailing Rudeboys, the Wailing Wailers and finally just the Wailers. Joe Higgs, who was part of the successful vocal act Higgs and Wilson, lived nearby and encouraged Marley. Marley and the others did not play any instruments at this time, and were more interested in being a vocal harmony group. Higgs helped them develop their vocal harmonies, and started to teach Marley how to play guitar.
Bob Marley married Alpharita Constantia "Rita" Anderson in Kingston, Jamaica, on 10 February 1966. Marley had many children: four with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita's relationships, and several others with different women. The official Bob Marley website acknowledges 11 children.
Those listed on the official site are:
- Sharon, born 23 November 1964, daughter of Rita from a previous relationship, but then adopted by Marley after his marriage with Rita
- Cedella, born 23 August 1967, to Rita
- David "Ziggy", born 17 October 1968, to Rita
- Stephen, born 20 April 1972, to Rita
- Robert "Robbie", born 16 May 1972, to Pat Williams
- Rohan, born 19 May 1972, to Janet Hunt
- Karen, born 1973, to Janet Bowen
- Stephanie, born 17 August 1974; according to Cedella Booker, she was the daughter of Rita and a man called Ital; nonetheless, she was acknowledged as Marley's daughter
- Julian, born 4 June 1975, to Lucy Pounder
- Ky-Mani, born 26 February 1976, to Anita Belnavis
- Damian, born 21 July 1978, to Cindy Breakspeare
Other sites have noted additional individuals who claim to be family members, as noted below:
- Makeda was born on 30 May 1981, to Yvette Crichton, after Marley's death. Meredith Dixon's book lists her as Marley's child, but she is not listed as such on the Bob Marley official website.
- Various websites, for example, also list Imani Carole, born 22 May 1963, to Cheryl Murray; but she does not appear on the official Bob Marley website.
Aside from music, association football played a major role throughout his life. As well as playing the game, in parking lots, fields, and even inside recording studios, growing up he followed the Brazilian club Santos and its star player Pelé and was also a supporter of English football club, Tottenham Hotspur and Argentine midfielder Ossie Ardiles, who played for the club from 1978 for a decade. Marley surrounded himself with people from the sport, and in the 1970s made the Jamaican international footballer Allan "Skill" Cole his tour manager. He told a journalist, "If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers."
Illness and death
In July 1977, Marley was diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma under a toenail. Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year, but was instead a symptom of already-existing cancer. He had to see two doctors before a biopsy was done, which confirmed acral lentiginous melanoma. Unlike other melanomas, usually on skin exposed to the sun, acral lentiginous melanoma occurs in places that are easy to miss, such as the soles of the feet, or under toenails. Although it is the most common melanoma in people with dark skin, it is not widely recognised and was not mentioned in the most popular medical textbook of the time.
Marley rejected his doctors' advice to have his toe amputated (which would have hindered his performing career), citing his religious beliefs, and instead, the nail and nail bed were removed and a skin graft was taken from his thigh to cover the area. Despite his illness, he continued touring and was in the process of scheduling a 1980 world tour.
The album Uprising was released in May 1980. The band completed a major tour of Europe, where it played its biggest concert to 100,000 people in Milan, Italy. After the tour, Marley went to the United States, where he performed two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the Uprising Tour. He collapsed while jogging in Central Park and was taken to the hospital, where it was found that his cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, and liver.
Marley's last concert took place two days later at the Stanley Theater (now The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 23 September 1980. The only known photographs from the show were included in Kevin Macdonald's 2012 documentary film Marley.
Shortly afterward, Marley's health deteriorated as his cancer had spread throughout his body. The rest of the tour was canceled, and Marley sought treatment at the clinic of Josef Issels in Bavaria, Germany, where he underwent an alternative cancer treatment called Issels treatment, partly based on avoidance of certain foods, drinks, and other substances. After eight months of failing to effectively treat his advancing cancer, Marley boarded a plane for his home in Jamaica. During the flight, Marley's vital functions worsened. After landing in Miami, Florida, he was taken to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (later University of Miami Hospital) for immediate medical attention, where he died on 11 May 1981, aged 36, due to the spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain. His final words to his son Ziggy were: “On your way up, take me up. On your way down, don't let me down." 
Marley was given a state funeral in Jamaica on 21 May 1981 that combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition. He was buried in a chapel near his birthplace in Nine Mile; his casket contained his red Gibson Les Paul guitar, and a Bible opened at Psalm 23.
His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.
Awards and honours
- 1976: Rolling Stone Band of the Year
- June 1978: Awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations.
- February 1981: Awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit, then the nation's third highest honour.
- March 1994: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- 1999: Album of the Century for Exodus by Time magazine.
- February 2001: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- February 2001: Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
- 2004: Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
- 2004: Among the first inductees into the UK Music Hall of Fame
- "One Love" named song of the millennium by BBC.
- Voted as one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll.
- 2006: A blue plaque was unveiled at his first UK residence in Ridgmount Gardens, London, dedicated to him by the Nubian Jak Community Trust and supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- 2010: Catch a Fire inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (Reggae Album).
- 2022: Inducted into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame.
- The Wailing Wailers (1965)
- Soul Rebels (1970)
- Soul Revolution Part II (1971)
- The Best of the Wailers (1971)
- Catch a Fire (1973)
- Burnin' (1973)
- Natty Dread (1974)
- Rastaman Vibration (1976)
- Exodus (1977)
- Kaya (1978)
- Survival (1979)
- Uprising (1980)
- Confrontation (1983)
- Live! (1975)
- Babylon by Bus (1978)
In Spanish: Bob Marley para niños
- Outline of Bob Marley
- List of peace activists
- Fabian Marley
- Desis bobmarleyi – an underwater spider species named in honor of Marley
Bob Marley Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.