February 6, 1945 marks the birth of reggae legend Robert Nesta Marley. People all over the world are celebrating the life and music of the international superstar. Reuters is reporting that Jamaicans are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the birth of late reggae legend Bob Marley on Friday with a jamming session at his former home and a free concert. If you’re in Jamaica, make sure you visit the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. If you’re in Atlanta, check out The Royal Peacock, Vibes or the Apache Cafe. In Chicago, pop into the Wild Hare or Exedus II and in DC float into Patty Boom Boom, Tropicalia or U Street Music Hall. If you want to celebrate wherever, join in online! Upload videos to #bobmarleyweek and say Happy Birthday to Bob Marley. Let people know why you love his music! Listen to and learn more about Bob Marley below:
Born in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, Marley was an iconic singer, writer and musician who became an ambassador of reggae music selling over 20 million records over the course of his career. At the urging of his friend and future collaborator Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston, Marley learned to play the guitar. As a child, Marley and his family moved to Kingston, growing up in Trench Town, one of the cities poorest neighborhoods.
Kingston was also considered the Motown of Jamaica, producing numerous local artists and embracing music from America and the UK. It was here that he met legend Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh).
In 1963, Marley, Livingston and McIntosh formed The Wailing Wailers and the rest is music history. After many ups and downs and traveling abroad to the UK and America, the group changed the name to the Wailers in 1968. The group toured with Sly & the Family Stone and Bruce Springsteen releasing the game changing album Catch a Fire. Before their next album Natty Dread was released, Livingston and Tosh had left the group to pursue solo careers.
“Natty Dread reflected some of the political tensions in Jamaica between the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party. Violence sometimes erupted due to these conflicts. ‘Rebel Music (3 O’clock Road Block)’ was inspired by Marley’s own experience of being stopped by army members late one night prior to the 1972 national elections, and ‘Revolution’ was interpreted by many as Marley’s endorsement for the PNP .”
The next tour, Marley toured with the I-Threes under the name Bob Marley & The Wailers, comprised of his wife Rita, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. In 1976, Marley charted in the U.S. with his hit album Rastaman Vibration featuring the song “War” whose lyrics were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie, the 20th century Ethiopian emperor, the spiritual leader of the Rastafarian movement. A battle cry for freedom from oppression, the song discussesd a new Africa, one without the racial hierarchy enforced by colonial rule. By this time, Marley had embraced and was living a Rastafarian lifestyle. The rest truly is history.
Marley, who along with his wife Rita survived an assassination attempt in Jamaica in 1976, went on to record the seminal album Exodus (1977) which is considered to be one of the greatest albums ever made. The album features the hits “Exodus,” “Jamming,” “Waiting in Vain” and “One Love/People Get Ready” which he co-wrote with soul legend Curtis Mayfield. In 1978, he and the Wailers released Kaya, which featured the hits “Is This Love” and “Satisfy My Soul.”
After Marley’s trip to Ethiopia and Kenya, he made another album Survival (1979) which called for greater unity and an end to oppression on the continent of Africa. He also performed live for the new Zimbabwe. His final album Uprising was in 1980 featuring the hits “Redemption Song” and “Could You Be Loved.”
In 1981, Marley died on May 11 from cancer in Miami, Florida. He was 36. Rest in power Mr. Marley.
This post was compiled and written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.