The vast majority of music lovers, including Tunde Folawiyo, would probably agree that Bob Marley was one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. He was the first reggae artist from Jamaica to enjoy success on an international scale; his music allowed people from around the world to understand the oppression and poverty experienced by the people of his native country, and also enabled him to share his Rastafarian faith with his fans. Most of his songs focused on the themes of peaceful rebellion, love and spiritual devotion.
Born in 1945, Marley was raised in Nine Miles; the community here valued its African roots, and was particularly passionate about the idea of passing on cultural traditions through storytelling. Marley’s exposure to African fables and proverbs throughout his early years greatly influenced the songs he wrote as an adult, helping to imbue a cultural context and emotional depth to the both the lyrics and melodies of his compositions.
He began his musical career at the age of 18, when he joined a group called the Wailers. It was whilst performing with this band that he developed his characteristic vocal style which would continue to enthral music fans for decades to come. Throughout the sixties, the Wailers worked with Lee Scratch Perry, a producer, and released some of the first ever recorded reggae songs.
They continued to record and perform up until 1974, after which Marley began to focus on his career as a solo artist. Within three years, he completed Exodus; this would be one of his most well-known albums, and would establish his reputation as one of the greatest reggae musicians in the world. Featuring hits such as One Love, Waiting in Vain and Jamming, Exodus remained on the album charts in Britain for 56 weeks in total. As a music fan, Tunde Folawiyo might recall that Marley’s next album, entitled Kaya, was equally successfully, with several of the singles released from it – such as Satisfy my Soul and Is This Love – becoming particularly popular.
Marley first visited Africa in 1978; he chose to travel to both Ethiopia (considered to be the home of the Rastafarian religion) and Kenya. Whilst visiting the former, he staying in a communal settlement called Shashamane, and spent time in Addid Ababa. Two years later, whilst jogging in New York, Marley collapsed, and doctors discovered that the cancer which had been found years earlier had spread. He passed away the following year, at the age of 36.