Bob Marley (1945 – 1981)
Robert Nesta Marley was born on Feb. 6, 1945, in the house of his grandfather in Jamaica. Soon after he was born, his father left his mother, but gave financial support and occasionally returned to see his son.
It was the mid-’50s, and finding a job in Jamaica was very difficult, so Bob and his mother left their home in St. Ann and headed to Trenchtown (West Kingston) to find happiness in the big city.
In Trenchtown, he spent a lot of time with his good friend Neville Livingstone, who was nicknamed Bunny. In the big city, he was also more exposed to the music he loved, and that included Fats Domino and Ray Charles.
Bob and Bunny attended a music class held by the famous Jamaican singer Joe Higgs. In that class they met Peter Macintosh and soon became good friends. In the meantime, Jamaican music was evolving and became very popular throughout the Caribbean due to the invention of ska.
When Bob was 16, he started to follow his dream of becoming a musician. Music to many young Jamaicans was an escape from harsh realities. One of those kids was Jimmy Cliff, who at the age of 14 had already recorded two hits. After meeting Bob, Jimmy introduced him to Leslie Kong, a local record producer.
Exploring the music
Bob soon left Kong after he had not received a salary. The following year Bob and Bunny formed the Wailing Wailers. The beginning was not so great, because after a few recording sessions two members, Cherry and Junior Braithwaite left the band.
Nevertheless, the band continued on and was presented to Clemet Dodd, a producer at the record company Coxsone. The Wailing Wailers recorded their first song, “Simmer Down”, which did quite well in Jamaica.
The Wailing Wailers, which now consisted of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny, became quite popular locally. Their audience grew rapidly and recorded a few tracks for Coxsone label which included: “It Hurts To Be Alone” and “Rule the Roadie”. Bob soon took over the role of bandleader and songwriter.
The life of Bob Marley became more cheerful when on Feb. 10, 1966 he married Rita Anderson. The next day, after the wedding, Bob left for the United States to visit his mother who lived in Delaware. During his stay in the United States, he worked so he could finance his music and soon returned home.
After Marley returned the Wailing Wailers evolved from ska to rock steady. This evolution conflicted with Coxsone label, who was primarily for ska bands. Therefore, the new The Wailing Wailers left Coxsone and renamed themselves the Wailers.
He died on May 11, 1981 in a hospital in Miami.
Thousands of people attended his funeral on May 21, including the president of Jamaica and the leader of the opposition. Bob Marley is now in a mausoleum at his birthplace.
Bob Marley knew his destiny – and as a visionary, he predicted this. His words will remain forever immortalized in the songs he wrote. “One bright morning when my work is over I will fly away home.”