Today on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley, the iconic reggae singer from Jamaica, died from skin cancer at the age of 36.
Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, was born in the small rural town of Nine Mile, Jamaica. At the young age of 18, he began his musical career by forming the Wailers. Along with Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, the band eventually became quite popular across Jamaica. It was during this time that Marley pioneered his distinctive songwriting and vocal style, propelling the Wailers to worldwide acclaim. The band released some of the earliest reggae songs with the support of their producer, Lee “Scratch” Perry. Marley also began exploring his spiritual side by developing a keen interest in the Rastafarian movement. The movement was both political and religious, drawing beliefs from many sources, such as Jamaican nationalism, the Old Testament, and African culture.
The Wailers released several hit songs like “I Shot The Sheriff” and “No Woman, No Cry.” However, they seemed to constantly be interested in other pursuits and eventually disbanded in 1974. Afterward, Marley relocated to London, England to pursue a solo career for himself. His first album “Exodus” was released three years later and sold more than 75 million records. His iconic best-selling album features many well-known hits, including Exodus, Waiting in Vain, Jamming, and One Love. The following year, he released the Kaya album, featuring hit singles “Is This Love” and “Satisfy My Soul.”
In 1966, Bob Marley married Rita Marley at a ceremony held in Kingston, Jamaica. According to Marley’s Official Website, he had eleven children; four with Rita, two adoptions, and several others with various women. At the pinnacle of his career, he was suddenly diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma (skin cancer) on his toe. As a committed Rastafari, he refused his doctor’s recommended treatment for amputation. Less than four years later, he died in Miami at the young age of 36. Industry pundits widely credit Marley with turning reggae into mainstream music around the world. Today, he continues to serve as a symbol for Jamaican culture and identity.
The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.