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Bob Marley is undoubtedly the most iconic reggae artist of all time, and remains a hugely popular figure 37 years after his death. Here are the big facts every fan should know...
Marley was born on February 6, 1945, on the farm of his maternal grandfather in Nine Mile, Jamaica, to Norval Sinclair Marley (1885–1955) and Cedella Booker (1926–2008). Norval was a white Jamaican originally from Sussex, England. Bob Marley's full name is Robert Nesta Marley. In 1955, when Bob was 10, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 70. His mother went on to marry Edward Booker, an American civil servant, giving Bob two American brothers.
Marley and Neville Livingston (later Bunny Wailer) had been childhood friends in Nine Mile. They had started to play music together while at Stepney Primary and Junior High School. Soon after, he was in a vocal group with Wailer, Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso and Junior Braithwaite. Singer Joe Higgs took Marley under his wing, teaching him how to play the guitar.
The Wailers came from a ska vocal group of the same name, created by Marley with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1963. By late 1963 singers Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith had joined. By the early 1970s, brothers Aston and Carlton Barrett had joined the band. After Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left in 1974, Marley began touring with new band members.
Bob Marley recorded many iconic reggae songs. Among his most famous include 'No Woman No Cry', 'Three Little Birds', 'One Love', 'Redemption Song', 'Is This Love', 'Could You Be Loved', 'Buffalo Soldier', 'Sun is Shining' and 'I Shot the Sheriff'.
Among his most iconic albums were 'Exodus' (1977), 'Kaya' (1978), 'Uprising' (1980), 'Natty Dread' (1974), 'Live!' (1975) and the greatest hits compilation 'Legend' (1984).
In July 1977, Marley was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Marley turned down his doctors' advice to have his toe amputated due to his religious beliefs, and the nail and nail bed were removed and a skin graft taken from his thigh as a cover. In 1980, the cancer had spread throughout his body. While he was flying from Germany to Jamaica, his condition worsened. After landing in Miami, he died on May 11, 1981, at the age of 36.
Bob Marley married Alpharita Constantia 'Rita' Anderson in Kingston, Jamaica, on February 10, 1966.
Marley had many children: four with wife Rita, two adopted from Rita's previous relationships, and several others with different women. His official website acknowledges 11 children. His most famous children include singer Ziggy Marley (pictured, who recorded the theme tune to kids' TV show 'Arthur'), musician Stephen Marley, footballer Rohan Marley, singer Julian Marley and reggae artist Damian Marley.
On December 3, 1976, two days before a free concert organised by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley to ease tension between two fighting political groups, Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were wounded by unknown gunmen inside Marley's home. Taylor and Marley's wife had serious injuries, but made full recoveries. Bob Marley received minor wounds in the chest and arm. The attempt on his life was thought to have been political, as many felt the concert was supporting Manley.
Marley left Jamaica at the end of 1976, and after a month-long "recovery and writing" journey at the site of Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, he arrived in England, where he spent two years in self-imposed exile. Whilst there, he recorded the albums 'Exodus' and 'Kaya'.
Bob Marley was a member of the Rastafari movement, whose culture was a key element in the growth of reggae. He became an proponent of Rastafari, taking its music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica, and onto an international audience. Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq baptised Marley into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, giving him the name Berhane Selassie, on November 4, 1980, soon before his death.
Marley considered cannabis a healing herb, and an "aid to medication". He supported the legalisation of the drug. He also said that marijuana use was in the Bible. Marley began to use cannabis when he converted to the Rastafari faith from Catholicism in 1966. He was arrested in 1968 after being caught with the drug, but continued to use it in accordance with his religious beliefs.