Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (1964–1974) and Bob Marley and The Wailers (1974–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.
Marley faced questions about his own racial identity throughout his life. He once reflected:
I don't have prejudice against myself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.
In 1961, at the age of sixteen, Bob released his first song, Judge Not, which did not do well. This did not discourage Bob. He continued to pursue a career in music and in 1965, he formed a group called ‘The Wailers’ with Bunny Livingstone (later known as Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later known as simply Peter Tosh.) Bob acted as front man for the group and wrote most of the group’s material. The trio released ‘Simmer Down,’ ‘Rule Them Rudie’ and ‘It Hurts To Be Alone,’ all of which were hits in Jamaica.
In 1966, Bob Marley married Rita Anderson, his long-term girlfriend. The next day he went to the United States and stayed long enough to gain financing for his next record. The next year Bob and Rita’s first child, Cedella, was born. Soon after, the Marleys set up their own recording label, Wail ‘N Soul ‘M Records, and produced a single, ‘Bend Down Low/Mellow Mood.’ That same year, the record label was ended.
The Wailers continued to release singles without producing an album. The band formed another label, Tuff Gong, and the rest of the world.Finally in 1971, the Wailers got a break. Island Records forwarded them 8,000 pounds for the production of a full album. The Wailers were the first reggae band to receive so much money and to have access to the best recording studios.They produced two albums, ‘Catch a Fire’ and ‘Burnin’’, the latter which included ‘Get Up Stand Up’ and ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ The Wailers began to extensively toured the United States and the United Kingdom and when Eric Clapton covered ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ the Wailers soared to instant fame.
Soon after their success in the US, the band changed their name to Bob Marley and the Wailers and then released their next album, ‘Natty Dread.’ The album included the hit single ‘No Woman No Cry,’ perhaps their most popular song. Soon after, Bunny and Peter left to pursue solo careers and were replaced by new members. By 1976, reggae fever had swept the United States. Rolling Stone magazine named Bob Marley and the Wailers the ‘Band of the Year’ and ‘Rastaman Vibration’ rose to the top of the charts.
In July 1977, Marley was found to have acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma.Despite his illness, he wished to continue touring and was in the process of scheduling a world tour in 1980. The intention was for Inner Circle to be his opening act on the tour but after their lead singer Jacob Miller died in Jamaica in March 1980 after returning from a scouting mission in South America this was no longer mentioned.The album Uprising was released in May 1980 and the band completed a major tour of Europe, where they played their biggest concert, to a hundred thousand people in Milan. After the tour Marley went to America, where he performed two shows at Madison square garden as part of the Uprising tour. Shortly afterwards, his health deteriorated and he became very ill; the cancer had spread throughout his body. The rest of the tour was canceled and Marley sought treatment at the Bavarian clinic of Jossef Issels, where he received a Controversial type of cancer therapy partly based on avoidance of certain foods, drinks, and other substances. After fighting the cancer without success for eight months, he boarded a plane for his home in Jamaica.
Marley's best known hits include "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Could You Be Loved", "Stir It Up", "Jamming", "Redemption Song", "One Love" and, together with The Wailers, "Three Little Birds",as well as the posthumous releases "Buffalo Soldier" and "Iron Lion Zion". The compilation album Legend (1984), released three years after his death, is reggae's best-selling album, being 10 times Platinum (Diamond) in the U.S.,and selling 20 million copies worldwide.