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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Bob Marley: The greatest in realm of reggae

This Jamaican musician popularised reggae on the global stage. He promoted social justice, social change, love and peace. Generations were influenced by his unique style and message.

inspiring-lives Updated: Oct 22, 2019 19:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bob Marley  and the Wailers recorded a total of 11 albums that sold more than 20 million records.
Bob Marley and the Wailers recorded a total of 11 albums that sold more than 20 million records. (ILLUSTRATION: Mohit Suneja)

Born on February 6, 1945, Robert Nesta Marley, popularly known as Bob Marley, was born in the Nine Mile district of Jamaica to a musician Cedella Booker and Norval Sinclair. Young Marley went to the Stepney Primary and Junior High School at Saint Ann. The school was later then renamed in honour of the legendary musician.

Learning the ropes

Marley grew up with his childhood friend Neville Livingston, who became popular as Bunny Wailer. The duo began playing music during their schooldays.The street they shifted to was home to a vocal act known as Higgs and Wilson. Marley too took some vocal lessons from Higgs, who also gave him tips on playing the guitar.


In 1963, when Marley was 18-year-old, he, along with friends Bunny Wailer, Junior Braithwaite, Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith formed a band called Teenagers which was renamed to Wailing Wailers. In 1964, their first single, Simmer Down, topped the charts in Jamaica. In 1965, they released the debut album, also named The Wailing Wailers, establishing their credentials in ska music. The original band’s line-up revolved around Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley, as the rest left the group in 1966. Marley married Rita Anderson who also joined the band. Marley developed a deep interest in the Rastafarian movement, that believes in universal peace and love.

Rise of Reggae

In 1968, a Jamaican band named Toots and the Maytals released a song, Do the Reggay, which became popular giving rise to a new genre. The song was unique in sound as its beat was slower and its rhythm section was offbeat. Around 1969, Marley spoke to producer Leslie Kong. Kong helped Marley’s band record an album titled The Best of the Wailers. Although the album was released in 1971, it came after band’s albums Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution were released. The Wailers toured London with Johnny Nash. During the trip, they met British recording producer Chris Blackwell, who helped them release the album Catch a Fire in 1973, which is considered the best reggae album of all time.


In 1973, The Wailers recorded their sixth album, Burnin, which became an international sensation and was awarded the gold certificate in the United States. It was added to the list of the National Recording Registry with the Library of Congress for historical and cultural significance. The popularity of reggae prompted guitarist and singer Eric Clapton to sing a cover version of I Shot The Sheriff, making it popular worldwide. In 1974, the band members broke up to pursue solo careers.

In 1975, Marley released the album Natty Dread without Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh. In 1976, Rastaman Vibration, was released. It reached the top 50 in US Billboard Soul Charts. In 1976, he left Jamaica, spent two years in the Bahamas and reached England where he recorded two more albums, Exodus and Kaya. Bob Marley and the Wailers recorded a total of 11 albums that sold more than 20 million records.


1. In 1978, amid political tension between two main political parties, Marley performed the One Love Peace Concert n Kingston, Jamaica. By the end of the concert,he asked the rival party leaders to shake hands.

2. Marley was also a soccer aficionado. He used to play game wherever and whenever he got a chance to do so. He was a big fan of Brazilian footballer Pele and supported the Brazilian soccer club called Santos.

3. He believed in the unity of African indigenous inhabitants and wanted a pan-African unity that reflected in his songs Africa Unite and Zimbabwe. The album Survival was originally to have been named Black Survival.

4. During Catch a Fire tour, Marley and the Wailers visited the US to open a gig for the band Sly, the Family Stone and Bruce Springsteen. His band was fired for being more popular than the main performers.

5. He won the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations in 1978 for his efforts on peace, the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1981 and was also honoured with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

SOURCE:, Wikipedia, news reports