Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician and guitarist who would find international fame and acclaim. He earned his reputation of being one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. Marley spent much of his youth in Jamaica with his family and childhood friend Neville Livingston (later Bunny Wailer). Marley and Wailer started playing music when they were very young and their interest only continued to grow as they got older. The duo would find others to join their group and played under different names until they settled on “The Wailers” and achieved their first #1 Jamaican hit in 1964.
Marley and his bandmates would often break up and rejoin at various times throughout their career, traveling between Jamaica and the United States. Marley was raised as a Catholic, but formally converted to Rastafari and began to grow his signature dreadlocks after one of his trips back to Jamaica. He was strongly spiritual and was known for infusing his music with that same spirituality. By 1974, Marley was receiving significant recognition behind his island home.
In the final years of his life, Marley would play at two significant political concerts in Jamaica. “Smile Jamaica” was a free concert organized by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between warring political parties. Two days before the concert, Marley, his wife and his manager were assaulted in their homes by unknown gunmen. While his manager and wife received significant injuries, they both made a full recovery. Marley received minor wounds to his chest and arms and decided to still go on stage two days later. When asked why, he replied, “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
Later, Marley returned to Jamaica after a two year self-imposed exile in England to play another political concert called the “One Love Peace Concert.” It was another attempt at easing tension between rival political parties and near the end of the concert, by Marley’s request, Michael Manley and his political rival Edward Seaga came on to the stage and shook hands. Unfortunately, it was not long after this concert that Marley would succumb to the cancer that was spreading through his body. He refused traditional medicine due to his beliefs and would pass away in a hospital in Florida before he was able to return home. Ultimately, he would be buried in a chapel near his birthplace in Jamaica.
Marley’s sense of spirituality in the face of the struggles that he faced first hand was inspirational. He constantly sought to find peace and love for everyone. He would be known to dabble with cannabis in an attempt to come closer to God. He felt he could meditate and know himself more clearly when he would smoke cannabis. Edward Seaga would deliver Marley’s final eulogy and said, “Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.” Honoring Marley’s dedication to peace and love in this world, we dedicate a star in his name, shining his hopes on the entire world.