One of the most influential musicians of the latter half of the 20th century, Bob Marley started from a humble background and went on to help establish Reggae as an integral part of world music. Like John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix, before him, Marley’s early death brought an abrupt end to a career which did more than just spread music – it contributed greatly to the cultural sensibilities of the time, as well as the aspirations of future musicians.
In 1962, with the support of Leslie Kong, an influential record producer in Jamaica, Marley recorded his first single “Judge Not”; however, the success which he would go on to secure, did not come immediately. The single and its follow-ups did not sell well, but this initial disappointment led to the formation of Bob Marley’s famous band The Wailers. Along with two of his friends, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, the band would change its line-up over time, but proved an instant success with the single “Simmer Down” in 1964, which became a number one hit in the Jamaican charts.
Bob Marley’s real big break, in an international sense, came in 1972 with the release of his and The Wailer’s seminal album, Catch a Fire. With touring dates around Britain and the United States, the band brought with it Jamaican culture, and Marley’s interest in the Rastafarian movement, popularising both. In 1973 the follow-up album Burnin’ included the song I Shot the Sheriff, which from that point on became an instant classic for both Bob Marley’s band, and blues icon Eric Clapton when he recorded a cover version of the song the following year.
Following on from this success, Bob Marley and The Wailers released the album Natty Dread, which contained political undercurrents describing various political causes and difficulties between different groups in Jamaica. Subsequent albums including Rastaman Vibration in 1976, Exodus in 1977, Kaya in 1978, Survival in 1979, and Uprising in 1980, all contributed to Marley’s reputation as a musician and performer.
Following a footballing injury in 1977, Marley was diagnosed with a malignant cancer in his foot. In 1981, the cancer had spread, and Marley sadly died aged just 36 years old, much to the dismay of many people including Tunde Folawiyo. Over the past four decades, his music has stood the test of time, culminating in him being admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, posthumously. His works continue to influence and positively affect millions of music fans around the world.
For more insights into a real fan’s appreciation of Bob Marley and other influential people, visit the Tunde Folawiyo blog site.