Few musicians remain as beloved and revered as the late Bob Marley , who would’ve been 72 years old if he were still alive.
On May 11 1981, Robert Nesta Marley died in a Miami hospital after fighting cancer and brain tumour for four years.
Born on his grandfather’s farm in the Jamaican country side in 1945 to an eighteen year old girl and a sixty year old British plantation overseer, Bob Marley was a child prodigy who would go on to be the most powerful and most important person in his country’s history.
His twenty year career that started when he was an adolescent took him from the shanties of Trenchtown to the world, using his wildly popular music to spread the gospel of peace, love, Rastafarianism- and of course, weed.
In 1964 he formed a group with his childhood friend Peter Tosh and five others, and later comprised just Marley, Bunny Wailer and Tosh.
Their debut album Catch A Fire brought immediate success and afforded the group the opportunity to tour Britain but marked the end of the group.
The group eventually dis-banded but Bob Marley’s career took off to greater heights, he then acquired a large following globally, catapulting him into a stardom neither he nor his friends could have imagined.
He moved from being a Jamaican act to an international musician that simply came from Jamaica. He became a leader of thought in his home country and converted millions of people into his Rastafari way of life.
Bob was well known for being a bit of a ladies man. Throughout his life he had an involvement in the lives of different women. Several of these women bore him children – he had one main pick-up line:
‘Yuh wan have ma baby?’
He married Rita in 1966 at 21 (she was a Sunday school teacher at the time) and stayed married to her until his death. He adopted her daughter from a previous relationship and they had four children together during their marriage.
Marley also had at least eight more children with eight different women. Rumors allude to several other unclaimed children but those named officially are: Imani, Sharon, Cedella, David (aka Ziggy ), Stephen, Robbie, Rohan, Karen, Stephanie, Julian, Ky-Mani, Damian and Madeka.
The singer pan-African political views also made him widely accepted among African countries that were only getting out of colonialism into self rule.
Bob Marley released fifteen albums, two of them live recordings and created iconic songs like Corner Stone, Small Axe, No Woman No Cry, Redemption Song, One Love, Get Up Stand Up, Buffalo Soldier, Soul Rebel and countless others that have grossed over seventy million records till date. His estate is said to be worth in excess of a billion dollars.
His death caused a shockwave that the world had not seen before then. Fans openly cried in the streets for the ‘Messiah’ they had come to adore.
Thirty six years later his legacy lives on, his children too have carried on the torch for the Marley name and for reggae music.
A 1977 football injury led doctors to discover a malignant melanoma in Marley’s toe.
They recommended amputation, but he refused for religious reasons. The tumour then spread, which ultimately caused his death.
While Bob was terminally ill he wanted to end his days in Jamaica, but unfortunately, on the Germany to Jamaica journey, he didn’t make it past Miami.
Bob Marley died in a Miami hospital on May 11, 1981. He was 36 years old.
He was buried on home turf along with a soccer ball, his Gibson Les Paul guitar, and a bud of marijuana.
As celebrity endorsements go, it certainly seems like a perfect fit: Under the label Marley Natural, the reggae icon is poised to become the face of the world’s first global marijuana brand.