Bob Marley was a reggae legend served as a world ambassador for reggae music, earned induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and sold more than 20 million records. He’s best known for his hits “No Woman, No Cry, “Three Little Birds,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “Redemption Song” and “One Love/People Get Ready.” Bob Marley may have been the king of reggae but he also has his own kingdom kids. The artist, unfortunately, passed away from malignant melanoma cancer in 1981.
Throughout Marley’s career he was the centerpiece for Jamaican politics, though he tried to keep his music his only political message. He united and polarized people, vocalizing about poverty, oppression, violence, peace, love and unity. Marley was a key player in the spread of Rastafarianism, a religion and social movement based on a specific interpretation of The Bible in which Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, was considered the second coming of Jesus and Jah incarnate. (When Marley met the son of His Imperial Majesty in the mid-1970s, the prince offered him a ring worn by His Majesty that Marley had seen in his own dreams. It fit perfectly). The religion was based on political consciousness for Africans and focuses on the African diaspora repressed in Western society. Rastas cultivate their consciousness with Jah (I-and-I) by reading The Bible; keeping long, locked hair in its natural state; wearing colors that symbolize blood, herbs, royalty and Africanness (red, green, gold and black); eating a vegetarian diet; and smoking ganja to meditate with Jah.
Marley was born Feb. 6, 1945 in Nine Mile, Jamaica to 19-year-old Cedella Marley and Captain Norval Marley, who left shortly after his birth. Mysticism and spirituality were an integral part of Jamaican society. Marley’s grandfather, Omeriah, was an influential mystic in their community, and when Marley was born he recognized something special about him. Omeriah saw a duppy spirit (ghost) attached to the child that would try to kill him his whole life. Marley took this on and cultivated his own mystic place as a young child, reading palms in their neighborhood before being sent to Kingston and further immersing himself in Rastafarianism and reggae.
In Kingston, he met Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer). The two would stay up all night listening to music on the newly popular R&B radio stations. They eventually formed The Wailers with Peter Tosh and became popular and highly successful working with Coxson Dodd to bring Jamaica’s music to the world. Marley became a musical prophet for the people in Jamaica, singing of political situations and Rasta mysticism. By 1976, Marley was the most popular superstar in the Third World.
TOP 10 QUOTES BY BOB MARLEY
I don’t believe in death, neither in flesh nor in spirit.
When one door is closed, don’t you know, another is open.
Don’t gain the world and lose your soul. Wisdom is better than silver and gold.
In this great future, you can’t forget your past. —No Woman, No Cry, from the album Natty Dread (1974)
A hungry mob is an angry mob. —Them Belly Full (But We Hungry), from the album Natty Dread (1974)
All dese governments and dis this and that, these people that say they’re here to help, why them say you cannot smoke the herb? Herb… herb is a plant, you know? And when me check it, me can’t find no reason.” “All them say is, ‘it make you rebel’. Against what?Interview (1979) with Dylan Taite in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
As a man sow, shall he reap. and I know that talk is cheap. But the heat of the battle is as sweet as the victory.
Babylon is everywhere. You have wrong and you have right. Wrong is what we call Babylon, wrong things. That is what Babylon is to me. I could have born in England, I could have born in America, it make no difference where me born, because there is Babylon everywhere.
Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.
Don’t trust people whose feelings change with time. Trust people whose feelings remain the same, even when the time changes.
Every day the bucket a-go a well, one day the bottom a-go drop out.I Shot The Sheriff, from the album Burnin’ (1973
Every time I plant a seed, He say kill it before it grow, he say kill it before they grow.
Everything is political. I will never be a politician or even think political. Me just deal with life and nature. That is the greatest thing to me.
Have no fear for atomic energy, ’cause none of them can stop the time.
I don’t know how to live good. I only know how to suffer.
If you’re white and you’re wrong, then you’re wrong; if you’re black and you’re wrong, you’re wrong. People are people. Black, blue, pink, green – God make no rules about color; only society make rules where my people suffer, and that why we must have redemption and redemption now.
I’ve been here before and will come again, but I’m not going this trip through.