Marley was born February 6, 1945 in rural St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica; the son of a middle-aged white, British father and a local teenaged black mother. Bob had little exposure to his father but got loving care from his mother Cedella and his Grandfather Omariah who was known as a kind of shaman or medicine man who had considerable influence on the young Bob. Omaiah had quite a bit of land in the Nine Mile high country and young Bob would do chores for his grandfather, fetching water and working with the livestock.

At the request of his father, Bob would leave this beautiful Blue Mountain country environment and the protection of his grandfather to go to Kingston. He was only 5 but his father who he seldom saw would take him to the city supposedly to go to school. School never happened and his father abandoned him again. Luckily someone reported to his mother back in Nine Mile that he had been seen wandering the streets of Kingston's Trench Town area.

He would be returned to the life and protection provided by his grandfather, mother and friends until he was 12 when his mother decided to go live in Kingston. She would move in with the father of Bunny Livingston, one of the future Wailers.

Bob did not have an easy time in Kingston and probably felt like an outcast as his light skin made him neither black nor white in the society he found himself. To learn more about his whole life, I highly recommend getting Roger Steffens' book, "So Much Things to Say" where Roger gets first hand information from most everyone that was associated with Bob through his life. Most interesting from the perspective of this book is how he drew to himself the teachers and collaborators that made his dreams fall into place. It is very clear that it was Bob's passion and single minded belief in his mission that drove him ever forward and would carry him to heights that few have ever reached as cultural figures.

I call Bob a "reluctant Messiah" because I believe he came here with some big plans and the intent of positively affecting our social order. Some of us come into this time space reality with some very definite intentions and Bob Marley was one of those individuals. I don't think it would be a stretch to say he picked the circumstances of his birth and early life to provide the tools and story he needed to accomplish his mission. His mission was tied right into the paradigm shift that has been going on for some time now. He was part of that 1960's - 1970's incubator of social change. Half African roots and half Anglo-European roots he was neither black nor white. Through his life he most strongly identified with his African roots because he was here to be a part of putting racial discrimination behind us. Even though the island of his birth, Jamaica is a very culturally diverse society, the island only gained independence from British rule in 1962. For most of Bob's teenage years the island was under colonial rule. Bob would record his first record, "Judge Not", in 1963.

"Judge Not" would not become a hit but the message of the song is quite prophetic. Bob had already been through a great deal from bountiful country living surrounded by great natural beauty to living in the "Concrete Jungle" of Kingston's Trenchtown. Even though he was a somewhat shy teenager he attracted the attention and help of people like Joe Higgs who would become a great mentor and the vocal coach for Bob and the future Wailers. When Bob wrote and recorded "Judge Not" he was only 18 years old but he was announcing the Spiritually based message that would take him to international recognition and be a powerful force in positively transforming reality. Like the Maharishi, he would become a force pushing us to new and brighter days. Here's how Bob's first song went…

Don't you look at me so smug
And say I'm going bad.
Who are you to judge me
And the life that I live?
I know that I'm not perfect
And that I don't claim to be.
So before you point your fingers,
Be sure your hands are clean.

Judge not
Before you judge yourself.
Judge not
If you're not ready for judgement. Woah oh oh!

The road of life is rocking
And you may stumble too.
So while you talk about me,
someone else is judging you.

More than any other single artist, Marley demonstrates how powerful the impact of music can be. Bob was not churning out simply catchy tunes, he was delivering a philosophy of living. There is no question that Marley had little interest in fame and fortune other than as a means to advance his mission. He always believed his time was very limited - he apparently always believed he would die at age 36. So much things to say…

Everything they say so much to say
They got so much things to say, so much things to say
I and I nah come to fight flesh and blood
But spiritual wickedness in high and low places
So while they fight you down
Stand firm and give Jah thanks and praises
'Cause I and I no expect to be justified
By the laws of men, by the laws of men
Oh, true they have found me guilty
But brooh, through Jah proved my innocency
Oh, when the rain fall, fall, fall now
It don't fall on one man's housetop
Remember that, when the rain fall
It don't fall on one man's housetop
Lyrics by Bob Marley and Rita Anderson Marley
Bob's messages injected into modern society through the captivating qualities of his music continue today to transform the world. His humble beginnings and the struggles of his youth gave him the canvas to paint his message for those who needed it most. While for many, those conditions would have been viewed as a reason why they could never accomplish much in life - there was only poverty, fear and no hope for the future. Bob's message was all about keeping hope alive - acknowledging the struggles but holding up a bright beacon of a better life for those who had hope and determination - "So while they fight you down… Stand firm and give Jah thanks and praises".

This is a universal message and like the messages of all great Spiritual and cultural leaders, it was really all about the value and opportunity open to every individual. All one needed to do was allow themselves to dream and believe in the possibility of a better future. Bob arrived at just the right time. It was a time where because of the fight against oppression and racism that was building around much of the world, his voice was able to drive that process - so many were yearning for a message of hope and possibility that celebrated each of us as important individuals.

The song "One Love" delivered the message possibly best of all surrounding it with joyous music and firmly grounding the message in a Spiritual perspective: "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right; Let's get together and feel all right."

The other song that might be thought of as just a nice little upbeat tune really offers some powerful programming for that bio-computer brain we have. The song is titled "Three Little Birds" and like a parable from the bible or other Spiritual text, it uses the three little birds as an example of correct living. The birds just are. They are living their lives and all is well. We have discussed how fear and worry are destructive emotions. The Law of Attraction is only going to give you more to fear and worry about if that is your focus. One of the most repeated messages in Jesus' teachings is "fear not". The repeated message of this song is "Don't worry, everything is going to be alright." It is the very essence of hope in a simple happy song. Because of the time and place and the available technology of the day, Bob Marley has been able to get this short and direct mental programming code into the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people reaching just about every corner of the planet. Let's just hope a lot of people receive the message and take it to heart - it will make the world a better place.

So that is why I call him a reluctant Messiah. Bob Marley did not set out to be an international superstar. He just had a message to get out to the world and a passion to do as much as he could in what he seemed to know would be a short period of time. He survived an assassination attempt and extensive travels around the globe only to be brought down by an old injury to his big toe. It is kind of ironic that "stubbing your toe" a few times would bring the show to an end but that is basically what happened. The injuries eventually lead to cancer and by the time anyone really became aware of it, it was already too late to do anything about it. Probably more because of the encouragement of all those around him he tried to fight it. Both traditional and exotic treatments were tried to no avail and on May 11, 1981 at age 36 Bob Marley would die in route back to Jamaica. He would get a funeral and tributes suitable for a King but most important; his message like his Spirit would live on and continue to advance the positive evolution of consciousness and the perceptions about our lives in this world community.
Bob Marley: A Reluctant Messiah
For the most complete and accurate story of Bob Marley get a copy of Roger Steffens' book "So Much Things To Say"

Marley Story Part One  
• Marley Story Part Two   
Bob Marley Feature - R&R Hall of Fame 
• Marley Feature Part Four (Roger Steffens Chronology) 
• The Book of Exodus by Vivien Goldman
• Bob Marley & The Wailers Tour Dates 
• Before the Legend - The Rise of Bob Marley by Christopher Farley 
•   Perry Henzel's Interview with Bob
• Timothy White Essay - Bob and Revelations
•    Bob Marley - LEGEND LIVE  
•   Visit Bob's Restaurant at Universal
•   A Trip to Nine Mile:  May He Rest In Peace
•   Drummie Zeb Feature 
•   Junior Murvin Feature
•   The Boy From Nine Mile 
•   One Love at Studio One
"Unity is the world's key, and racial harmony.
Until the white man stops calling himself white and the black man stops calling himself black, we will not see it.

All the people on earth are just one family.'s life we deal with. No death.
He that sees the light and knows the light shall live. When the time comes, people will seek the truth in all things. They get it when they are ready to hear it.

Man can't do without God.
Just like you thirsty, you have to drink water.
You just can't do without God.
I pledged to work for righteousness.
God's given me inspiration.
So me personally as a man is nothin'
without the inspiration of Jah."

Bob Marley   

From 'In His Own Words' compiled by Ian McCann (Omnibus Press 47052) 
Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit. But my hand was made strong
By the 'and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
This songs of freedom
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fullfil the book.

Won't you help to sing
This songs of freedom-
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fullfil the book.
Won't you have to sing
This songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs -
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.
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LISTEN to Bob Marley and the Wailers - The Matrix, San Francisco - Oct 29-30, 1973
I was lucky enough to see Bob at a show before superstardom at NYC Beacon Theater and then once again at The Apollo Theater in Harlem when he played eight shows over four nights wanting to bring his music to more of the African American audience. I would get to see Bob Marley and the Wailers one more time and at that time, I had no idea that this was to be Bob's second to last live performance ever. The album Uprising was released in May 1980 and the band completed a major tour of Europe, where they played their biggest ever concert, to a hundred thousand people in Milan. The U.S. portion of the tour kicked off at Madison Square Garden in NYC. The atmosphere in The Garden was again mystical, other worldly - there's really no other way I can think to explain it - I have been to lots of concerts and event at The Garden - it is strange because the cavernous space somehow felt smaller, more intimate. There was definitely that Natural Mystic in the air - in my memory, the two Garden shows are merged into one extended vision of intense energy and a spacey, trippy haze. That's not just because mass quantities of upful herb were being toked in the huge building - it is because the event and the audience together produced this mystic magical vibe that was inescapable. When the band launched into the opening of Natural Mystic, the attention of the thousands of people lucky enough to be in NYC that night and at the show was immediately riveted on the stage.

Moments later Bob came dancing and skanking out to center stage. For the next hour and a half, this Spiritual Warrior, musician, artist, poet - a reluctant Messiah by the name of Robert Nesta Marley again captivated the masses with his powerful positive and vibrant energy. By the time the encore of Could You Be Loved finished, the audience was filled with satisfied souls celebrating what they had just witnessed. By the time the co-billed Commodores hit the stage, they were left to play to an almost empty arena.

The next day Bob would collapse on a run in Central Park. It was thought he was suffering from exhaustion but it was to sadly turn out to be much more serious. In July 1977, Bob had been diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma. He did not realize it yet but the disease had spread thorough his body. Bob wanted to press on - he was still on a mission, a mission of taking his Jah inspired message to the world - but, on September 23, 1980, Bob Marley was to play his final concert ever at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. A pretty good recording of this show exists and it is testament to his power as an artist - although he was already very sick, the sold out crowd in Pittsburg still got to see one last, stunning show. That last night, Bob ended the show with an acoustic version of Redemption Song (the recording of the song from that night is the final track on Marley Songs of Freedom 4-cd box set). There would be a three song encore but Redemption Song was poetically perfect as a closing note. "There was a feeling of a whole era coming to a climax. Everyone felt he knew something was going to happen," said Rita Marley. "Redemption Song is like a final statement in a career, a summation of all of the themes and thought that had created it" - to quote the liner notes for Songs of Freedom. "We've got to fulfil the book."
BMW in Concert
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Rasjohnmon photo at Madison Square Garden, NYC