For the most complete and accurate story of Bob Marley get a copy of Roger Steffens' book "So Much Things To Say"
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 suggestion of his father, Bob would leave this beautiful 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 just wandering the streets of Kingston's Trenchtown area. He would be returned to the life and protection provided by his grandfather 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 may have 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.

Bob began recording in 1962, debuting on a ska-tempoed song called "Judge Not".  Looking back, it seems very fitting that the song's lyrics were firmly routed in a moral and social dimension. He formed a vocal trio with some childhood friends, Neville "Bunny" Livingston (later Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh). They took the name the Wailers because they were ghetto sufferers who'd been born "wailing." As practicing Rastas, they grew their hair in dreadlocks and smoked ganja, believing it to be a sacred herb that brought enlightenment.
1973's Catch a Fire, the Wailers' Island debut, was the first of their albums released outside of Jamaica, and immediately earned worldwide acclaim; the follow-up, Burnin', launched the track "I Shot the Sheriff, " a Top Ten hit for Eric Clapton in 1974. With the Wailers poised for stardom, however, both Bunny Livingstone and Peter Tosh quit the group to pursue solo careers; Bob then brought in the I-Threes, which in addition to Rita Marley consisted of singers Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. The new line-up proceeded to tour the world prior to releasing their 1975 breakthrough album Natty Dread, scoring their first UK Top 40 hit with the classic "No Woman, No Cry." Sellout shows at the London Lyceum, where Marley played to racially-mixed crowds, yielded the superb Live! later that year, and with the success of 1976's Rastaman Vibration, which hit the Top Ten in the U.S., it became increasingly clear that his music had carved its own niche within the pop mainstream.

Bob Marley's musical impact and spiritual message spreads around the globe and continues to expand. In his homeland of Jamaica he is a National Hero and the government that is often very tough on the youth and the rastas and even feared the power of Marley, have honored his life and works with two Jamaican postage stamps. Not only was Marley a key figure in maintaining peace in his homeland at several crucial times during his life, he also has been as important as the country's largest banks and corporations in supporting Jamaica's position in the world economic community. Robert Nesta Marley's life and works continue to spread the joy of the riddum and life, the message of inity and overstanding and a continually blossoming prosperity.
Madison Square Garden, NYC
Marley family photo - Bob, Rita, Sharon (oldest), Cedella (3 yrs younger than Sharon), David (ZIGGY) (a year younger than Cedella), and, in the baby carriage is Steven (6 years younger than Ziggy).
BACK to Marley Main Page
BACK to Marley Main Page