Bob Marley: The legend lives on!

Go Lean Commentary

Bob Marley - The legend lives on“Let’s get together and feel alright” – Bob Marley’s Song: One Love

This song is identified in the below article as being designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Today, 11 May 2014, is the 33rd anniversary of Bob Marley’s death. (The number 33 is the “rev” speed for music-album playback).

The book Go Lean … Caribbean identifies 169 different musical/national combinations of genres throughout the Caribbean. Of them all, Reggae is by far the most impactful of a Caribbean sound; even more so than Calypso, Soca, Merengue or any of the many Afro-Cuban varieties (Conga, Mambo, Salsa, etc). One cannot speak of Reggae music though without recognizing the iconic role of Bob Marley. The Go Lean book speaks directly of Bob Marley in recognizing him, along with other advocates, in the way in which his contributions resonated in the world. As follows, an excerpt from that rendering (Page 133):

The majority of the Caribbean population descends from an African ancestry – a legacy of slavery from previous centuries. Despite the differences in nationality, culture and language, the image of the African Diaspora is all linked hand-in-hand. And thus, when Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley impacted the world with their contributions, the reverberations were felt globally, not just in their homelands. It is hard for one segment of the black world to advance when other segments have a negative global image. This is exemplified with the election of Barack Obama as US President; his election was viewed as an ascent for the entire Black race.*

The following article, from the Daily Independent Newspaper of Nigeria, posits that the legend and legacy of Bob Marley lives on, to this day and beyond.

“My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.” – Bob Marley

The above statement made by Bob Marley of his music, is a living testimony of his continued legacy and legend. Since his demise on May 11, 1981, the influence of his music on global culture has become unparalleled as evidenced by ever increasing list of accomplishments, honours and awards.

In June 1978, he was awarded the ‘Peace Medal of the Third World ’ from the United Nations. He was voted as one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll. In 2006, a blue plaque was unveiled at his first UK residence in Ridgmount Gardens, London, dedicated to him by Nubian Jak community trust and supported by Her Majesty’s Foreign Office.

Bob Marley was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994; in December 1999, his 1977 album “Exodus” was named Album of the Century by Time Magazine and his song “One Love” was designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC.

Since its release in 1984, Marley’s “Legend” compilation has annually sold over 250,000 copies, according to Nielsen Sound Scan, and it is only the 17th album to exceed sales of 10 million copies since SoundScan began its tabulations in 1991.

Bob Marley’s music was never recognised with a Grammy nomination, but in 2001 he was bestowed The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. That same year, a feature length documentary about Bob Marley’s life, ‘Rebel Music’, directed by Jeremy Marre, was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Long Form Music Video’ documentary. In 2001 Bob Marley was accorded the 2171st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by the Hollywood Historic Trust and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, in Hollywood, California. As a recipient of this distinction, Bob Marley joined musical legends, including Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations.

In 2006, the State of New York renamed a portion of Church Avenue in the section of Brooklyn, “Bob Marley Boulevard “.

Recently, the popular TV show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, commemorated the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s passing with an entire week (May 9-13) devoted to his music, as performed by Bob’s eldest son, Ziggy, Jennifer Hudson, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz and the show’s house band, The Roots. These triumphs are all the more remarkable considering Bob Marley’s humble beginnings and numerous challenges he overcame attempting to gain a foothold in Jamaica ‘s chaotic music industry while skillfully navigating the politically partisan violence that abounded in Kingston throughout the 1970s.

In celebration of what would have been his 68th birthday, the 2013 Grammys featured an all-star Bob Marley tribute including some of music’s hottest stars.

One of the 20th century’s most charismatic and challenging performers, Bob Marley’s renown now transcends the role of reggae luminary: he is regarded as a cultural icon who implored his people to know their history “coming from the root of King David, through the line of Solomon,” as he sang on “Blackman Redemption”; Bob urged his listeners to check out the “Real Situation” and to rebel against the vampiric “Babylon System”. “Bob had a rebel type of approach, but his rebelliousness had a clearly defined purpose to it,” acknowledges Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, who played a pivotal role in the Bob Marley biography by introducing Marley and the Wailers to an international audience.

Two influences of Marley’s music are his Rastafarian belief and his love for marijuana. The pan-African consciousness, progressive political ideologies and deep spiritual convictions heard in Bob Marley’s music were derived from his firmly rooted commitment to Rastafarian beliefs and its attendant lifestyle. Marley did not just enjoy weed as a recreational habit. He was instead a staunch supporter of the plant’s meditational, spiritual and healing abilities, and a fierce opponent to those who tried using marijuana as a vehicle for oppression, and to keep certain groups of people out of the societal mainstream.

In his early years, February 1962, Marley recorded four songs, Judge Not, One Cup of Coffee, Do You Still Love Me? And Terror. One Cup of Coffee was released under the pseudonym, Bobby Martell.

The following year, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh,Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith called The Teenagers, later changed the name to The Wailing Rudeboys, then to The Wailing Wailers and finally to The Wailers. In 1966, Smith, Kelso and Braithwaite left the Wailers leaving Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. Marley, that same year married, Rita Anderson.

In an attempt to commercialise The Wailers sound, between 1968 and 1972, Bob and Rita Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer re-cut some old tracks with JAD Records in Kingston and London.

After signing with CBS Records in London, Marley in 1972 embarked on a UK tour with American musician, Johnny Nash. The Wailers returned to Jamaica to release its first album, Catch a Fire. The eight track album was followed the same year by the album, Burnin, which included the song, I Shot the Sheriff. Eric Clapton was given the album by his guitarist, George Terry, for his enjoyment, but Clapton was so impressed that he recorded a cover version of, I Shot the Sheriff, which became his first US hit after [the song] Layla.

It is pertinent to note that during this period, Blackwell, Marley’s record company, gifted his Kingston residence and company headquarters to Marley. The property housing Tuff Gong studios, became not only his office, but also his home. Finally, The Wailers broke up in 1974 with each of the three members pursuing solo careers.

Though born a Catholic, Marley converted to Rastafari and began to grow dreadlocks. With new members in his solo career, Marley continued recording as ‘Bob Marley and The Wailers’ as the ‘I Threes’ comprising Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Marley’s wife, Rita provided backing vocals.

Marley rose to fame internationally in 1975 with his first hit track, No Woman No Cry from the Natty Dread album. This was followed by Rastaman Vibration, his breakthrough album in the US.

Of significance was an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen on December 3, 1976, two days before, a free concert, tagged, ‘Smile Jamaica’, organised by the Jamaican Prime Minister, Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between two warring political factions. Marley, his wife and manager, Don Taylor were wounded in the assault. However, injured Marley performed after the attack. At the end of 1976, Marley left Jamaica and after a month of recovery and writing, he arrived [in] England, where he spent two years in self imposed exile. While in Queen Elizabeth’s country, he recorded the albums, Kaya and Exodus. For 56 consecutive weeks, Exodus stayed on the British album charts. It also included four UK hit singles – Exodus, Waiting in Vain, Jamming and One Love (a rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s hit, People get Ready).

In an effort to calm warring parties, when Marley returned to Jamaica in 1978, he performed at another political concert, the One Love Peace Concert which saw the two heads of the factions shook hands on stage.

A defiant and politically charged album, Survival, was released in 1979 with such tracks as, Zimbabwe, Africa Unite, Wake Up and Live and Survival reflected his struggle for Africans. Bob Marley’s final studio album, Uprising in 1980 is regarded as one of his most religious productions. It includes, Redemption Song and Forever Loving Jah.

Confrontation was released posthumously in 1983, contained unreleased songs recorded during Marley’s lifetime. It includes the hit song, Buffalo Soldier and new mixes of singles previously available only in Jamaica. 11 albums, four live albums and seven studio albums were achieved under the name Bob Marley and the Wailers.

In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Citing his religious beliefs, he turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated. Despite his illness, he continued touring.

His Redemption Song track is in particular considered to be about Marley’s coming to terms with his mortality. He appeared at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on September 23 1980, unfortunately, it would be his last concert.

Shortly afterwards, his health deteriorated, the cancer had [spread] to his lungs and brains. Marley sought treatment at the Bavarian clinic of Josef Issels where he received an unusual therapy. After fighting the disease unsuccessfully for eight months, he boarded a plane for his home in Jamaica but he never made it. He landed in Miami, Florida, USA and was taken to Cedars of Lebanon, hospital for immediate medical attention.

On May 11, 1981, Robert Nesta Marley, born on February 6, 1945 on the farm of his maternal grandfather in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica to Norval Sinclair Marley and Cedella Booker gave up the ghost. He was aged 36.

After his death, he seems to loom larger than life as his legacy continues to grow. Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on May 21, 1981 which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition. On his religious life, Marley was a vegetarian who was affiliated with the Twelve Tribes Mansion. He was in the denomination of the Tribe of Joseph. Shortly before his death, Marley was baptised into Christianity by Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq of the Ethiopian Orthodox church in Kingston, Jamaica on November 4, 1980.

In April 1981 Bob Marley was awarded Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Order of Merit, for his outstanding contribution to his country’s culture.

Marley had a number of children: three with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita’s previous relationships and several other others with different women.

Irrespective of race, colour, creed, the Bob Marley’s revolutionary yet unifying music, challenging colonialism, racism, and the rest has had profound effects even in country’s where English is not widely spoken.

In August 2008, two artists from Serbia and Croatia , unveiled a statue of Bob Marley during a rock music festival in Serbia; the monument’s inscription read “Bob Marley Fighter for Freedom Armed with A Guitar”.

A statue was inaugurated, next to the national stadium on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston to commemorate him.

Internationally, Marley’s message also continues to reverberate among various indigenous communities.

The Daily Independent – Nigerian Daily Newspaper – Retrieved May 11, 2014 from:

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This CU strives to advance the Caribbean culture with these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance.

This roadmap recognizes that a prerequisite for advancing society is a change in the Caribbean community ethos. Early in the book, the contributions that music can make is pronounced as an ethos for the entire region to embrace, (Declaration of Interdependence – DOI – Pages 14) with these statements:

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

Bob Marley was the embodiment of all of these above values. He impacted the music, culture and economics of the region. He set a pathway for success for other generations of talented, inspirational and influential artists – musical geniuses – to follow. Other artists of Caribbean heritage are sure to emerge and “rock the world”; we are hereby “banking” on it, with these CU preparations (DOI – Page 13):

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

Bob Marley - UprisingThe CU represents the change that has come to the Caribbean. The people, institutions and governance of the region are all urged to “lean-in” to this roadmap for change. We know there is a “new” Bob Marley somewhere in the Caribbean member-states, waiting to be fostered. We salute this one with the words of this Bob Marley composition Redemption Song, (from this writer’s favorite album “Uprising”):

But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill de book.

The following list details the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster the next Bob Marley:

Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos –Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Caribbean Vision Page 45
Separation of Powers – Patents & Copyrights Page 78
Separation of Powers – Culture Administration Page 81
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media Page 111
Advocacy – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Jamaica Page 239

For this occasion, the reader is hereby admonished to put on your favorite Bob Marley album, sit back, and feel the love, the “One Love”.

Download the e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – free … now!


Appendix Reference:

* Rampersad, Dr. Arnold (2008). “Race, History, and the Emergence of Obama”. Florida International University Dr. Eric E. Williams Memorial Lecture Series. Retrieved November 2013 from:



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