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Bob Marley
Overview | Albums | Biography | Photos
b. Robert Nesta Marley, 6 February 1945, St. Anns, Jamaica, West Indies, d. 11 May 1981, Miami, Florida, USA. This legendary singer's vocal group, the Wailers, originally comprised six members: Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith. Bob Marley And The Wailers are the sole Jamaican group to have achieved global superstar status, together with genuine penetration of world markets. The original group was formed during 1963. After extensive tuition with the great vocalist Joe Higgs, they began their recording career later that year for Coxsone Dodd, although Marley had made two singles for producer Leslie Kong in 1962 - "Judge Not" and "One Cup Of Coffee". Their first record, "Simmer Down", released just before Christmas 1963 under the group name Bob Marley And The Wailers, went to number 1 on the JBC Radio chart in January 1964, holding that position for the ensuing two months and reputedly selling over 80,000 copies. This big local hit was followed by "It Hurts To Be Alone", featuring Junior Braithwaite on lead vocal, and "Lonesome Feeling", with lead vocal by Bunny Wailer. During the period 1963-66, the Wailers made over 70 tracks for Dodd, over 20 of which were local hits, covering a wide stylistic base - from cover versions of US soul and doo-wop with ska backing, to the newer, less frantic "rude-boy" sounds that presaged the development of rocksteady, and including many songs that Marley re-recorded in the 70s. In late 1965, Braithwaite left to go to America, and Kelso and Smith also departed that year.On 10 February 1966, Marley married Rita Anderson, at the time a member of the Soulettes, later to become one of the I-Threes and a solo vocalist in her own right. The next day he left to join his mother in Wilmington, Delaware, USA returning to Jamaica in October 1966; the Wailers were now a vocal trio. They recorded the local hit "Bend Down Low" at Studio One late in 1967 (though it was actually self-produced and released on their own label, Wail 'N' Soul "M"). This and other self-produced output of the time is among the rarest, least reissued Wailers music, and catches the group on the brink of a new maturity; for the first time there were overtly Rasta songs. By the end of that year, following Bunny Wailer's release from prison, they were making demos for Danny Sims, the manager of soft-soul singer Johnny Nash, who hit the UK charts in April 1972 with the 1968 Marley composition, "Stir It Up". This association proved incapable of supporting them, and they began recording for producer Leslie Kong, who had already enjoyed international success with Desmond Dekker, the Pioneers and Jimmy Cliff. Kong released several singles and an album called The Best Of The Wailers in 1970. By the end of 1969, wider commercial success still eluded them. Marley, who had spent the summer of 1969 working at the Chrysler car factory in Wilmington, returned to Jamaica, and the trio began a collaboration with Lee Perry that proved crucially important to their future development. Not only did Perry help to focus more effectively the trio's rebel stance, but they worked with the bass and drum team of brothers, Aston "Familyman" Barrett and Carlton Barrett (b. 17 December 1950, Kingston, Jamaica, d. 1987, Kingston, Jamaica), who became an integral part of the Wailers' sound.The music Bob Marley And The Wailers made with Perry during 1969-71 represents possibly the height of their collective powers. Combining brilliant new songs such as "Duppy Conqueror", "Small Axe" and "Sun Is Shining" with definitive reworkings of old material, backed by the innovative rhythms of the Upsetters and the equally innovative influence of Perry, this body of work stands as a zenith in Jamaican music. It was also the blueprint for Bob Marley's international success. The group continued to record for their own Tuff Gong label after the Perry sessions and came to the attention of Chris Blackwell, then owner of Island Records. Island had released much of the Wailers' early music from the Studio One period, although the label had concentrated on the rock market since the late 60s. Their first album for the company, 1973's Catch A Fire, was packaged like a rock album, and targeted at the album market in which Island had been very successful. The band arrived in the UK in April 1973 to tour and appear on television. In July 1973 they supported Bruce Springsteen at Max's Kansas City club in New York. Backed by an astute promotional campaign, Catch A Fire sold well enough to warrant the issue of Burnin', adding Earl Lindo to the group, which signalled a return to a militant, rootsy approach, unencumbered by any rock production values.The rock/blues guitarist Eric Clapton covered "I Shot The Sheriff" from this album, taking the tune to the number 9 position in the UK chart during the autumn of 1974, and reinforcing the impact of the Wailers in the process. Just as the band was poised on the brink of wider success, internal differences caused Tosh and Bunny Wailer to depart, both embarking on substantial solo careers, and Lindo left to join Taj Mahal. The new Wailers band, formed in mid-1974, included Marley, the Barrett brothers and Bernard "Touter" Harvey on keyboards, with vocal harmonies by the I-Threes, comprising Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt. This line-up, with later additions, would come to define the so-called "international' reggae sound that Bob Marley And The Wailers played until Marley"s death in 1981. In establishing that form, not only on the series of albums recorded for Island but also by extensive touring, the band moved from the mainstream of Jamaican music into the global market. As the influence of Bob Marley spread, not only as a musician but also as a symbol of success from the so-called "Third World", the music made locally pursued its own distinct course. 1975 was the year in which the group consolidated their position, with the release of the massively successful Natty Dread and rapturously received concerts at the London Lyceum. These concerts attracted both black and white patrons - the crossover had begun. At the end of the year Marley achieved his first UK chart hit, the autobiographical "No Woman No Cry". His first live album, comprising material from the Lyceum concerts, was also released in that year. He continued to release an album a year until his death, at which time a spokesman for Island Records estimated worldwide sales of $190 million. Marley survived an assassination attempt on 3 December 1976, leaving Jamaica for 18 months in early 1977. In July, following a harmless incident when he stubbed his foot during a game of football, he had an operation in Miami to remove cancer cells from his right toe.His albums Exodus and Kaya enjoyed massive international sales. In April 1978, he played the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, bringing the two leaders of the violently warring Jamaican political parties (Michael Manley and Edward Seaga) together in a largely symbolic peacemaking gesture. The band then undertook a huge worldwide tour that took in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. His own label, Tuff Gong, was expanding its interests, developing new talent. The album Survival was released to the usual acclaim, being particularly successful in Africa. The song "Zimbabwe" was subsequently covered many times by African artists. In 1980, Marley and the Wailers played a momentous concert in the newly liberated Zimbabwe to an audience of 40,000. In the summer of 1980, his cancer began to spread; he collapsed at Madison Square Garden during a concert. Late in 1980 he began treatment with the controversial cancer specialist Dr. Josef Issels. By 3 May, the doctor had given up. Marley flew to Miami, Florida, where he died on 11 May.Marley was rightly celebrated in 1992 with the release of an outstanding CD box set chronicling his entire career, although his discography remains cluttered due to the legal ramifications of his estate. His global success had been an inspiration to all Jamaican artists; his name became synonymous with Jamaican music, of which he had been the first authentic superstar. His contribution is thus immense: his career did much to focus the attention of the world on Jamaican music and to establish credibility for it. In addition, he was a charismatic performer, a great singer and superb songwriter - an impossible act to follow for other Jamaican artists.


Wailing Wailers (Studio One 1965)***, The Best Of The Wailers (Beverley's 1970)***, Soul Rebels (Trojan/Upsetter 1970)***, Catch A Fire (Island 1973)*****, Burnin' (Island 1973)****, African Herbsman (Trojan 1974)***, Rasta Revolution (Trojan 1974)***, Natty Dread (Island 1975)*****, Live! later retitled Live At The Lyceum (Island 1975)****, Rastaman Vibration (Island 1976)****, Exodus (Island 1977)****, Kaya (Island 1978)****, Babylon By Bus (Island 1978)***, Survival (Tuff Gong/Island 1979)****, Uprising (Tuff Gong/Island 1980)****, Marley, Tosh Livingston & Associates (Studio One 1980)***, Catch A Fire deluxe edition (Tuff Gong 2001)*****.


In The Beginning (Psycho/Trojan 1979)***, Chances Are (Warners 1981)***, Bob Marley - The Boxed Set 9-LP box set (Island 1982)***, Confrontation (Tuff Gong/Island 1983)***, Legend (Island 1984)*****, Mellow Mood (Topline 1984)**, Reggae Greats (Island 1985)***, Soul Revolution I & II the first UK release of the 70s Jamaican double album (Trojan 1988)***, Interviews (Tuff Gong 1988)**, One Love: Bob Marley And The Wailers At Studio One (Heartbeat 1991)***, Talkin' Blues (Tuff Gong 1991)***, All The Hits (Rohit 1991)***, Upsetter Record Shop Parts 1 & 2 (Esoldun 1992)***, Songs Of Freedom 4-CD box set (Island 1992)****, Never Ending Wailers (RAS 1993)***, Natural Mystic: The Legend Continues (Island 1995)****, Power (More Music 1995)***, Soul Almighty: The Formative Years Volume 1 (JAD 1996)***, Dreams Of Freedom: Ambient Translations Of Bob Marley In Dub (Axiom/Island 1997)***, Roots Of A Legend (Trojan 1997)***, The Complete Bob Marley & The Wailers 1967-1972 Part 1 3-CD set (JAD/Koch 1998)****, Trench Town Rock 4-CD set (Charly 1998)****, Rainbow Country: Rare & Instrumental Material 1969-1972 (Orange Street 1999)***, various artists Chant Down Babylon (Tuff Gong 1999)***, The Complete Upsetter Collection 6-CD box set (Trojan 2000)****, Climb The Ladder (Heartbeat 2001)**, One Love: The Very Best Of Bob Marley & The Wailers (Tuff Gong/Island 2001)****, Natty Rebel (Universal 2001)***, Small Axe (Universal 2001)***.


One Love Peace Concert (Hendring Music Video 1988), Live At The Rainbow (Channel 5 Video 1988), Caribbean Nights (Island Video 1988), Legend (Island Video 1991), Time Will Tell (1992), The Bob Marley Story (Island Video 1994).


Bob Marley: Music, Myth & The Rastas, Henderson Dalrymple. Bob Marley: The Roots Of Reggae, Cathy McKnight and John Tobler. Bob Marley: Soul Rebel - Natural Mystic, Adrian Boot and Vivien Goldman. Bob Marley: The Biography, Stephen Davis. Catch A Fire, The Life Of Bob Marley, Timothy White. Bob Marley: Reggae King Of The World, Malika Lee Whitney. Bob Marley: In His Own Words, Ian McCann. Bob Marley: Conquering Lion Of Reggae, Stephen Davis. So Much Things To Say: My Life As Bob Marley's Manager, Don Taylor. The Illustrated Legend 1945-1981, Barry Lazell. Spirit Dancer, Bruce W. Talamon, The Complete Guide To The Music Of ..., Ian McCann. Bob Marley: An Intimate Portrait By His Mother, Cedella Booker with Anthony Winkler, Bob Marley: A Rebel Life, Dennis Morris.

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