Bob Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist. Let’s see some interesting facts and trivia about him!
1. Bob Marley was a white Jamaican originally from Sussex, England, whose family claimed Syrian Jewish origins.
2. Marley was named Nesta Robert Marley.
3. A Jamaican immigration official suggested to Bob’s mom that “Nesta” sounded too much like a girl’s name. So they switched his name to Robert Nesta Marley
4. As a little kid, Bob had a knack for deeply spooking people by successfully predicting their futures by reading their palms. At seven, having just returned to his rural village after a year spent living in the ghettos of Kingston (Jamaica’s capital), he declared that from then on he would cease to read palms. His new destiny, he said, was to become a singer. For the rest of his life, whenever someone who knew him back when asked him to read their palms, he resolutely refused.
5. In 1955, when Bob Marley was 10 years old, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 70.
6. Marley and Neville Livingston (later known as Bunny Wailer) had been childhood friends in Nine Mile.
7. In 1963, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith were called The Teenagers.
8. They later changed the name to The Wailing Rudeboys, then to The Wailing Wailers, at which point they were discovered by record producer Coxsone Dodd, and finally to The Wailers.
9. Tuff Gong,” the name of Bob’s recording label, was a nickname Bob earned for himself in the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown (so named because it was built over an old drainage trench) for being exactly the wrong guy to screw with. Ever.
10. The first single “Simmer Down” for the Coxsone label became a Jamaican #1 in February 1964 selling an estimated 70,000 copies.
11. In 1966, Marley married Rita Anderson, and moved near his mother’s residence in Wilmington, Delaware in the United States for a short time, during which he worked as a DuPont lab assistant and on the assembly line at a Chrysler plant, under the alias Donald Marley.
12. Though raised as a Catholic, Marley became interested in Rastafari beliefs in the 1960s, when away from his mother’s influence.
13. After returning to Jamaica, Marley formally converted to Rastafari and began to grow dreadlocks.
14. The Wailers’ first album for Island, Catch a Fire, was released worldwide in April 1973, packaged like a rock record with a unique Zippo lighter lift-top. Initially selling 14,000 units, it didn’t make Marley a star, but received a positive critical reception
15. It was followed later that year by the album Burnin’ which included the song “I Shot the Sheriff”.
16. Eric Clapton was given the album by his guitarist George Terry in the hope that he would enjoy it. Clapton was suitably impressed and chose to record a cover version of “I Shot the Sheriff” which became his first US hit since “Layla” two years earlier and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 14 September 1974.
17. Many Jamaicans were not keen on the new reggae sound on Catch a Fire, but the Trenchtown style of Burnin found fans across both reggae and rock audiences.
18. The Wailers broke up in 1974 with each of the three main members pursuing solo careers. The reason for the breakup is shrouded in conjecture; some believe that there were disagreements amongst Bunny, Peter, and Bob concerning performances, while others claim that Bunny and Peter simply preferred solo work.
19. Peter Tosh’s given name was Winston Hubert McIntosh. “The Toughest,” as Tosh was known, was murdered in his home on Friday, September 11, 1987, by a 32-year-old hoodlum acquaintance of his named Leppo. (Tosh was a guitarist in The Wailers, and a very important reggae singer/songwriter in his own right.)
20. When Bob discovered that the reason he was still poor after being so famous for so long was that his long-time manager and friend Don Taylor had been robbing him blind, Bob beat Don to within an inch of his life. Then he fired him.
21. Despite the break-up of the group, Marley continued recording as “Bob Marley & The Wailers”.
22. On 3 December 1976, two days before “Smile Jamaica”, a free concert organised by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between two warring political groups, Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were wounded in an assault by unknown gunmen inside Marley’s home. Taylor and Marley’s wife sustained serious injuries, but later made full recoveries. Bob Marley received minor wounds in the chest and arm.
23. Under the name Bob Marley and the Wailers eleven albums were released, four live albums and seven studio albums. The releases included Babylon by Bus, a double live album with thirteen tracks, were released in 1978 and received critical acclaim. This album, and specifically the final track “Jamming” with the audience in a frenzy, captured the intensity of Marley’s live performances.
24. In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year, but was instead a symptom of the already-existing cancer.
25. Marley turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated, citing his religious beliefs, and instead the nail and nail bed were removed and a skin graft taken from his thigh to cover the area.
26. While Marley was flying home from Germany to Jamaica, his vital functions worsened. After landing in Miami, Florida, he was taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention.
27. Bob Marley died on 11 May 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami (now University of Miami Hospital) at the age of 36. The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain caused his death.
28. His final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.
29. According to Marley’s biographers, he affiliated with the Twelve Tribes Mansion, one of the Mansions of Rastafari. He was in the denomination known as “Tribe of Joseph”, because he was born in February (each of the twelve sects being composed of members born in a different month). He signified this in his album liner notes, quoting the portion from Genesis that includes Jacob’s blessing to his son Joseph.
30. Marley had a number of children: three with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita’s previous relationships, and several others with different women. The Bob Marley official website acknowledges eleven children.
Those listed on the official site are: Sharon, born 23 November 1964, daughter of Rita from a previous relationship but then adopted by Marley after his marriage with Rita, Cedella born 23 August 1967, to Rita, David “Ziggy”, born 17 October 1968, to Rita, Stephen, born 20 April 1972, to Rita, Robert “Robbie”, born 16 May 1972, to Pat Williams, Rohan, born 19 May 1972, to Janet Hunt, Karen, born 1973 to Janet Bowen, Stephanie, born 17 August 1974; according to Cedella Booker she was the daughter of Rita and a man called Ital with whom Rita had an affair; nonetheless she was acknowledged as Bob’s daughter, Julian, born 4 June 1975, to Lucy Pounder, Ky-Mani, born 26 February 1976, to Anita Belnavis, Damian, born 21 July 1978, to Cindy Breakspeare.
31. Aside from music, football played a major role throughout his life.
32. Marley surrounded himself with people from the sport, and in the 1970s made the Jamaican international footballer Allan “Skill” Cole his tour manager.
33. He told a journalist, “If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers.”
34. Marley saw marijuana usage as a vital factor in religious growth and connection with Jah, and as a way to philosophize and become wiser.
35. A statue was inaugurated, next to the national stadium on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston to commemorate him.
36. In November 2014, Forbes Magazine listed Marley as fifth on the list of the highest-earning dead celebrities. With the release of Marley Natural Fine Cannabis, Marley’s estate can expect to rocket up the posthumous earnings list in the future.
37. Marley has sold more than 75 million albums in the past two decades. Legend, a retrospective of his work, is the best-selling reggae album ever. More than 12 million copies have been sold internationally and several thousand new units are sold every week.
38. He was a vegetarian due to his devotion to the Rastafari practice Ital.
39. His favorite Reggae singer was Bunny Wailer, and he thought the rest were “skanks.”.
40. He was buried on home turf along with a soccer ball, his Gibson Les Paul guitar, and a bud of marijuana.