Born on a farm in Nile Mile, Jamaica, Marley began his musical career in primary school. He was close childhood friends with Bunny Wailer, who alongside Marley is now considered a pivotal musician in the establishment of the reggae genre. Marley released three songs on the Jamaican record label Beverley’s in 1962, and joined with Bunny Wailer and several other musicians to form The Wailers in 1963. Their single “Simmer Down” became a number one hit in Jamaica, and soon the group was working with the biggest names in Jamaican music.
As his career began to take off, Marley moved to the U.S. and became involved with the Rastafari movement. He continued releasing music with The Wailers. In 1972, the group released Catch a Fire, an album that marked the first time reggae musicians had been able to record in a top-quality studio. The album had modest sales, but was received positively by critics. The group’s next effort, Burnin’, featured the now-famous cut “I Shot the Sheriff,” which was then covered by Eric Clapton. Clapton’s version climbed to the top of the Billboard Top 100. The Wailers broke up shortly thereafter, and Bob Marley began his solo career. It was during this period that Marley produced some of his most beloved music, including “One Love,” “Jamming,” and Survival, an album many consider to be his most political. He went on to receive many awards and accolades for his music, including Rolling Stone’s Band of the Year in 1976, a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Marley was married and had eleven children. He died of cancer in 1981, and was buried in Nine Mile along with one of his favourite guitars. His state funeral in Jamaica was attended by over six thousand people.
Marley performed in several concerts advocating for peace, and the Rastafari movement, which involves a rejection of materialism and other negative aspects of modern culture, was important to his music. Many native cultures, including the Aborigines of Australia, are deeply invested in the message of Marley’s music, and his themes of freedom and hope resonate in popular culture as well. Bob Marley’s legacy lives on through the passion of his many fans, including Tunde Folawiyo. Read on for more about Tunde Folawiyo.