Tagged with "marley"
Celebrating the Life and legacy of Bob Marley
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: black men rock word life production bob marley new quality entertainment featured blog

The Bob Marley biography provides testament to the unparalleled influence of his artistry upon global culture. Since his passing on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley’s legend looms larger than ever, as evidenced by an ever-lengthening list of accomplishments attributable to his music, which identified oppressors and agitated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance.

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 recognized with a Grammy nomination but in 2001 he was bestowed The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor given by the Recording Academy to “performers who during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.” 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 an eight block stretch of Brooklyn’s bustling Church Avenue, which runs through the heart of that city’s Caribbean community, was renamed Bob Marley Boulevard, the result of a campaign initiated by New York City councilwoman Yvette D. Clarke. This year 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.

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. “It wasn’t just mindless rebelliousness, he was rebelling against the circumstances in which he and so many people found themselves.”

Bob Marley was born Robert Nesta Marley on February 6, 1945. Bob was born to Cedella Marley when she was 18. Bob’s early life was spent in rural community of Nine Miles, nestled in the mountainous terrain of the parish of St. Ann. Residents of Nine Miles have preserved many customs derived from their African ancestry especially the art of storytelling as a means of sharing the past and time-tested traditions that are oftentimes overlooked in official historical sources. The proverbs, fables and various chores associated with rural life that were inherent to Bob’s childhood would provide a deeper cultural context and an aura of mysticism to his adult songwriting.

Norval and Cedella married in 1945 but Captain Marley’s family strongly disapproved of their union; although the elder Marley provided financial support, the last time Bob Marley saw his father was when he was five years old; at that time, Norval took his son to Kingston to live with his nephew, a businessman, and to attend school. Eighteen months later Cedella learned that Bob wasn’t going to school and was living with an elderly couple. Alarmed, she went to Kingston, found Bob and brought him home to Nine Miles.

The next chapter in the Bob Marley biography commenced in the late 1950s when Bob, barely into his teens, left St. Ann and returned to Jamaica’s capital. He eventually settled in the western Kingston vicinity of Trench Town, so named because it was built over a sewage trench. A low-income community comprised of squatter-settlements and government yards developments that housed a minimum of four families, Bob Marley quickly learned to defend himself against Trench Town’s rude boys and bad men. Bob’s formidable street-fighting skills earned him the respectful nickname Tuff Gong.

Despite the poverty, despair and various unsavory activities that sustained some ghetto dwellers, Trench Town was also a culturally rich community where Bob Marley’s abundant musical talents were nurtured. A lifelong source of inspiration, Bob immortalized Trench Town in his songs “No Woman No Cry” (1974), “Trench Town Rock” (1975) and “Trench Town”, the latter released posthumously in 1983.

By the early 1960s the island’s music industry was beginning to take shape, and its development gave birth to an indigenous popular Jamaican music form called ska. A local interpretation of American soul and R&B, with an irresistible accent on the offbeat, ska exerted a widespread influence on poor Jamaican youth while offering a welcomed escape from their otherwise harsh realities. Within the burgeoning Jamaican music industry, the elusive lure of stardom was now a tangible goal for many ghetto youths.

Uncertain about the prospects of a music career for her son, Cedella encouraged Bob to pursue a trade. When Bob left school at 14 years old she found him a position as a welder’s apprentice, which he reluctantly accepted. After a short time on the job a tiny steel splinter became embedded in Bob’s eye. Following that incident, Bob promptly quit welding and solely focused on his musical pursuits.

At 16 years old Bob Marley met another aspiring singer Desmond Dekker, who would go on to top the UK charts in 1969 with his single “Israelites”. Dekker introduced Marley to another young singer, Jimmy Cliff, future star of the immortal Jamaican film “The Harder They Come”, who, at age 14, had already recorded a few hit songs. In 1962 Cliff introduced Marley to producer Leslie Kong; Marley cut his first singles for Kong: “Judge Not”, “Terror” and “One More Cup of Coffee”, a cover of the million selling country hit by Claude Gray. When these songs failed to connect with the public, Marley was paid a mere $20.00, an exploitative practice that was widespread during the infancy of Jamaica’s music business. Bob Marley reportedly told Kong he would make a lot of money from his recordings one day but he would never be able to enjoy it. Years later, when Kong released a best of The Wailers compilation against the group’s wishes, he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 37.

In 1963 Bob Marley and his childhood friend Neville Livingston a.k.a. Bunny Wailer began attending vocal classes held by Trench Town resident Joe Higgs, a successful singer who mentored many young singers in the principles of rhythm, harmony and melody. In his Trench Town yard, Higgs introduced Bob and Bunny to Peter (Macintosh) Tosh and The Bob Marley and the Wailers legend was born. The trio quickly became good friends so the formation of a vocal group, The Wailing Wailers, was a natural progression; Higgs played a pivotal role in guiding their musical direction. Additional Wailing Wailers members included Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, and Cherry Smith but they departed after just a few recording sessions.

Bob, Bunny and Peter were introduced to Clement Sir Coxsone Dodd, a sound system operator turned producer; Dodd was also the founder of the seminal Jamaican record label Studio One. With their soulful harmonies, influenced primarily by American vocal group Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, and lyrics that echoed the struggles facing Jamaica’s poor, the Wailers attained a sizeable local following. The Wailers’ first single for Studio One “Simmer Down”, with Bob cautioning the ghetto youths to control their tempers or “the battle would be hotter”, reportedly sold over 80,000 copies. The Wailers went on to record several hits for Coxsone including “Rude Boy”, “I’m Still Waiting,” and an early version of “One Love”, the song the BBC would designate as the Song of the Century some thirty-five years later.

By the mid 60s, the jaunty ska beat had metamorphosed into the slower paced rocksteady sound, which soon gave way to Jamaica’s signature reggae rhythm around 1968. Dodd had not made a corresponding shift in his label’s releases nor did he embrace the proliferation of lyrics imbued with Rastafarian beliefs that were essential to reggae’s development. Declining sales of the Wailers’ Studio One singles compounded by a lack of proper financial compensation from Dodd prompted their departure from Studio One.

Cedella Booker, meanwhile, decided to relocate to the US state of Delaware in 1966. That same year Bob Marley married Rita Anderson and joined his mother in Delaware for a few months, where he worked as a DuPont lab assistant and on an assembly line at a Chrysler plant under the alias Donald Marley.

In his absence from Jamaica, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I visited the island from April 21-24, 1966. His Majesty is revered as Lord and Savior, according to Rastafarian beliefs and his visit to Jamaica had a profound impact upon Rita and Bob. Bob soon adopted the Rastafarian way of life and began wearing his hair in dreadlocks.

Upon Bob’s return to Jamaica, The Wailers established the Wail’N Soul’M label/record shop in front of his aunt’s Trench Town home. The label’s name identified its primary acts: The Wailers and The Soulettes, a female vocal trio featuring Rita Marley. A few successful Wailers’ singles were released including “Bend Down Low” b/w “Mellow Mood” but due to lack of resources, the Wailers dissolved Wail’N Soul’M in 1968.

As the 1970s commenced, soaring unemployment, rationed food supplies, pervasive political violence and the IMF’s stranglehold on the Jamaican economy due to various structural adjustment policies heavily influenced the keen social consciousness that came to define Bob’s lyrics.

In 1970 the Wailers forged a crucial relationship with Jamaican producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, a pioneer in the development of dub, the reggae offshoot where the drum and bass foundation is moved to the forefront. Perry wisely paired The Wailers with the nucleus of his studio band The Upsetters, brothers Carlton and Aston “Family Man” Barrett, respectively playing drums and bass. Collectively they forged a revolutionary sonic identity, as heard on tracks like “Duppy Conqueror”, “400 Years” and “Soul Rebel”, which established an enduring paradigm for roots reggae. The Wailers’ collaborations with Perry were featured on the album “Soul Rebels” (1970) the first Wailers album released in the UK. The Wailers’ reportedly severed their relationship with Perry when they realized he was the sole recipient of royalties from the sales of “Soul Rebels”.

In 1971 Bob Marley went to Sweden to collaborate on a film score with American singer Johnny Nash. Bob secured a contract with Nash’s label CBS Records and by early 1972 The Wailers were in London promoting their single “Reggae On Broadway”; CBS, however, had little faith in Marley and The Wailers’ success and abruptly abandoned the group there. Marley paid a chance visit to the London offices of Island Records and the result was a meeting with label founder Chris Blackwell. Marley sought the finances to record a single but Blackwell suggested the group record an album and advanced them £4,000, an unheard of sum to be given to a Jamaican act.

Island’s top reggae star Jimmy Cliff had recently left the label and Blackwell saw Marley as the ideal artist to fill that void and attract an audience primed for rock music. “I was dealing with rock music, which was really rebel music and I felt that would really be the way to break Jamaican music. But you needed someone who could be that image. When Bob walked in he really was that image,” Blackwell once reflected. Despite their “rude boy” reputation, the Wailers returned to Kingston and honored their agreement with Blackwell. They delivered their “Catch A Fire” album in April 1973 to extensive international media fanfare. Tours of Britain and the US were quickly arranged and the life of Bob Marley was forever changed. Bunny Wailer refused to participate in the US leg of the “Catch A Fire” tour so the Wailers’ mentor Joe Higgs served as his replacement. Their US gigs included an opening slot for a then relatively unknown Bruce Springsteen in New York City. The Wailers toured with Sly and the Family Stone, who were at their peak in the early 70s, but were removed after just four dates because their riveting performances, reportedly, upstaged the headliner.

Following the successful “Catch A Fire” tour the Wailers promptly recorded their second album for Island Records, “Burnin”, which was released in October 1973. Featuring some of Bob’s most celebrated songs “Burnin” introduced their timeless anthem of insurgency “Get Up Stand Up” and “I Shot The Sheriff”, which Eric Clapton covered and took to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974; Clapton’s cover significantly elevated Bob Marley’s international profile, the same year that Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the group.

Bob Marley’s third album for Island Records “Natty Dread”, released in October 1975, was the first credited to Bob Marley and The Wailers; the harmonies of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were replaced with the soulfulness of the I-Threes, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. The Wailers band now included Family Man and Carly Barrett, Junior Marvin on rhythm guitar, Al Anderson on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl “Wya” Lindo on keyboards and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson playing percussion. Characterized by spiritually and socially conscious lyrics, the “Natty Dread” album included a rousing blues-influenced celebration of reggae, “Lively Up Yourself”, which Bob used to open many of his concerts; the joy he experienced among friends amidst the struggles of his Trench Town youth is poignantly conveyed on “No Woman No Cry”, while the essential title track played a significant role in introducing Rastafarian culture and philosophies to the world. A commercial as well as a critical success, “Natty Dread” peaked at no. 44 on Billboard’s Black Albums chart and no. 92 on the Pop Albums chart.

The following year Bob embarked on a highly successful European tour in support of “Natty Dread”, which included two nights at London’s Lyceum Theater. The Lyceum performances were captured on Bob’s next release for Island, “Bob Marley and the Wailers Live”, which featured a melancholy version of “No Woman No Cry” that reached the UK top 40.

Bob Marley catapulted to international stardom in 1976 with the release of “Rastaman Vibration”, his only album to reach the Billboard Top 200, peaking at no. 8. With the inclusion of “Crazy Baldhead”, which decries “brainwash education” and the stirring title cut, “Rastaman Vibration” presented a clearer understanding of Rastafari teachings to the mainstream audience that was now attentively listening to Bob. Also included was “War”, its lyrics adapted from an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 1963, delivered by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I whom Rastafarians consider a living God. Thirty-five years after its initial release “War” remains an unassailable anthem of equality, its empowering spirit embraced by dispossessed people everywhere.

As 1976 drew to a close Bob Marley was now regarded as a global reggae ambassador who had internationally popularized Rastafarian beliefs. At home, that distinction fostered an immense sense of pride among those who embraced Bob’s messages. But Bob’s expanding influence was also a point of contention for others in Jamaica, which was brutally divided by political alliances. With the intention of suppressing simmering tensions between Jamaica’s rival People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), Bob agreed to a request by Jamaica’s Ministry of Culture to headline a (non partisan) free concert, Smile Jamaica, to be held on December 5, 1976 in Kingston. Two days prior to the event, as Bob Marley and The Wailers rehearsed at his Kingston home, an unsuccessful assassination attempt was made on his life. Gunmen sprayed Bob’s residence with bullets but miraculously, no one was killed; Bob escaped with minor gunshot wounds, Rita underwent surgery to remove a bullet that grazed her head but she was released from the hospital the next day. Bob’s manager Don Taylor was shot five times and critically wounded; he was airlifted to Miami’s Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for the removal of a bullet lodged against his spinal cord.

If the ambush in the night at Bob Marley’s home was an attempt to prevent him from performing at the Smile Jamaica concert or a warning intended to silence the revolutionary spirit within his music, then it had failed miserably. Bob defiantly performed “War” at the Smile Jamaica concert, which reportedly drew 80,000 people but shortly thereafter he went into seclusion and few people knew of his whereabouts.

Three months after the Smile Jamaica concert, Bob flew to London where he lived for the next year and a half; there he recorded the albums “Exodus” (1977) and “Kaya” (1978). Exodus’ title track provided a call for change, “the movement of Jah people”, incorporating spiritual and political concerns into its groundbreaking amalgam of reggae, rock and soul-funk. A second single, the sultry dance tune “Jamming” became a British top 10 hit. The “Exodus” album remained on the UK charts for a staggering 56 consecutive weeks, bringing a level of commercial success to Bob Marley and the Wailers that had previously eluded the band.

In a more laid back vein, the “Kaya” album hit no. 4 on the British charts, propelled by the popularity of the romantic singles “Satisfy My Soul” and “Is This Love?” Kaya’s title track extols the herb Marley used throughout his lifetime; the somber “Running Away,” and the haunting “Time Will Tell” are deep reflections on the December 1976 assassination attempt. The release of “Kaya” coincided with Bob Marley’s triumphant return to Jamaica for a performance at the One Love Peace Concert, held on April 22, 1978 at Kingston’s National Stadium. The event was another effort aimed at curtailing the rampant violence stemming from the senseless PNP-JLP rivalries; the event featured 16 prominent reggae acts and was dubbed a “Third World Woodstock”. In the concert’s most memorable scenario, Bob Marley summoned JLP leader Edward Seaga and Prime Minister Michael Manley onstage. As the Wailers pumped out the rhythm to “Jamming”, Bob urged the politicians to shake hands; clasping his left hand over theirs, he raised their arms aloft and chanted “Jah Rastafari”. In recognition of his courageous attempt to bridge Jamaica’s cavernous political divide, Bob traveled to the United Nations in New York where he received the organization’s Medal of Peace on June 6, 1978.

At the end of 1978 Bob made his first trip to Africa, visiting Kenya and Ethiopia, the latter being the spiritual home of Rastafari. During his Ethiopian sojourn, Bob stayed in Shashamane, a communal settlement situated on 500-acres of land donated by His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I to Rastafarians that choose to repatriate to Ethiopia. Marley also traveled to the Ethiopian capitol Addis Ababa where he visited several sites significant to His Majesty’s life and ancient Ethiopian history.

That same year Bob Marley and The Wailers’ tours of Europe and America were highlighted on their second critically acclaimed live album “Babylon By Bus”. In 1978 Bob and The Wailers also toured Japan, Australia and New Zealand, where the indigenous Maori people greeted them with a traditional welcoming ceremony typically reserved for visiting dignitaries.

Bob released “Survival”, his ninth album for Island, in the summer of 1979. From opening track’s clarion call to “Wake Up and Live” to the concluding “Ambush In The Night”, his definitive statement on the 1976 assassination attempt, “Survival” is a brilliant, politically progressive work championing pan-African solidarity. “Survival” also included “Africa Unite” and “Zimbabwe”, the latter an anthem for the soon-to-be liberated colony of Rhodesia. In April 1980 Bob and the Wailers performed at Zimbabwe’s official Independence Ceremony at the invitation of the country’s newly elected president Robert Mugabe. This profound honor reconfirmed the importance of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ throughout the African Diaspora and reggae’s significance as a unifying and liberating force.

Unbeknownst to the band, the Zimbabwe Independence concert was solely for a select group of media and political dignitaries. As Bob Marley and The Wailers started their set, pandemonium ensued among the enormous crowd gathered outside the entrance to the Rufaro Sports Stadium: the gates broke apart as Zimbabweans surged forward to see the musicians who inspired their liberation struggle. Clouds of teargas drifted into the stadium; the Wailers were overcome with fumes and left the stage. The I-Threes returned to their hotel but Bob Marley went back onstage and performed “Zimbabwe”. The following evening, Bob Marley and the Wailers returned to Rufaro Stadium and put on a free show for a crowd of nearly 80,000.

The final album to be released in Bob’s lifetime, “Uprising”, helped to fulfill another career objective. Bob had openly courted an African American listenership throughout his career and he made a profound connection to that demographic with “Could You Be Loved”, which incorporated a danceable reggae-disco fusion. “Could You Be Loved” reached no. 6 and no. 56 respectively on Billboard’s Club Play Singles and Black Singles charts. “Uprising” also included contemplative odes to Bob’s Rastafarian beliefs, “Zion Train” and “Forever Loving Jah”, and the deeply moving “Redemption Song” a stark, acoustic declaration of enduring truths and profoundly personal musings; Angelique Kidjo, the Clash’s Joe Strummer, Sinead O’Connor and Rihanna are but four of the dozens of artists who have recorded versions of “Redemption Song”.

Bob Marley and The Wailers embarked on a major European tour in the spring of 1980, breaking attendance records in several countries. In Milan, Italy, they performed before 100,000 people, the largest audience of their career. The US leg of the “Uprising” tour commenced in Boston on September 16 at the JB Hynes Auditorium. On September 19 Bob and the Wailers rolled into New York City for two consecutive sold out nights at Madison Square Garden as part of a bill featuring New York based rapper Kurtis Blow and Lionel Richie and the Commodores. The tour went onto the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pa. where Bob delivered the final set of his illustrious career on September 23, 1980.

The Pittsburgh show took place just two days after Marley learned that the cancer that had taken root in his big toe in 1977, following a football injury, had metastasized and spread throughout his body. Bob courageously fought the disease for eight months, even traveling to Germany to undergo treatment at the clinic of Dr. Josef Issels. At the beginning of May 1981, Bob left Germany to return to Jamaica but he did not complete that journey; he succumbed to his cancer in a Miami hospital on May 11, 1981.

The Bob Marley biography doesn’t end there. 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. Ten days after Bob Marley’s death, he was given a state funeral as the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley O.M. by the Jamaican government, attended by Prime Minister Edward Seaga and the Opposition Party Leader Michael Manley. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the streets to observe the procession of cars that wound its way from Kingston to Bob’s final resting place, a mausoleum in his birthplace of Nine Miles. The Bob Marley and the Wailers legend lives on, however, and thirty years after Bob Marley’s death, his music remains as vital as ever in its celebration of life and embodiment of struggle.

The Bob Marley influence upon various populations remains unparalleled, irrespective of race, color or creed. Bob Marley’s revolutionary yet unifying music, challenging colonialism, racism, “fighting against ism and scism” as he sang in “One Drop”, has had profound effects even in country’s where English isn’t widely spoken. In August 2008, two musicians from the war scarred countries of Serbia and Croatia (formerly provinces within Yugoslavia) 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”. “Marley was chosen because he promoted peace and tolerance in his music,” said Mirko Miljus, an organizer of the event.

In Koh Lipe, Thailand, Bob Marley’s February 6th birthday is celebrated for three days with a cultural festival. In New Zealand, his life and music are now essential components of Waitangi Day (February 6) observances honoring the unifying treaty signed between the country’s European settlers and its indigenous Maori population. When Bob visited New Zealand for a concert at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium on April 6, 1979, the Maori greeted him with a traditional song and dance ceremony reserved for visiting dignitaries. Marley’s former manager, the late Don Taylor, referred to the Maori welcoming ritual as “one of my most treasured memories of the impact of Bob and reggae music on the world”.

On April 17, 1980 when the former British colony of Rhodesia was liberated and officially renamed Zimbabwe and the Union Jack replaced with the red, gold, green and black Zimbabwean flag, it is said that the first words officially spoken in the new nation were “ladies and gentlemen, Bob Marley and the Wailers”. For the Zimbabwean freedom fighters that listened to Bob Marley, inspiration and strength were drawn from his empowering lyrics. Marley penned a tribute to their efforts, “Zimbabwe”, which was included on the most overtly political album of his career, 1979′s “Survival” and he was invited to headline their official liberation celebrations. Zimbabwean police used tear gas to control the crowds that stampeded through the gates of Harare’s Rufaro Stadium to get a glimpse of Marley onstage. As several members of Marley’s entourage fled for cover, he returned to the stage to perform “Zimbabwe”, his words resounding with a greater urgency amidst the ensuing chaos: “to divide and rule could only tear us apart, in everyman chest, there beats a heart/so soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionaries and I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.” “There was smoke everywhere, our eyes filled with tears so we ran off,” recalls Marcia Griffiths, who sang backup for Marley, alongside Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt, as the I-Threes. “When Bob saw us the next day he smiled and said now we know who are the real revolutionaries.”

A generation later a group of political refugees from Sierra Leone living in Guinean concentration camps and traumatized by years of bloody warfare in their country, found through the music of Bob Marley, inspiration to form their own band and write and record their own songs. The Refugee All Stars won international acclaim for their 2006 debut “Living Like A Refugee” and their 2010 album “Rise and Shine”, each utilizing a blend of reggae, Sierra Leone’s Islamic rooted bubu music and West African goombay.

Further evidence of Bob Marley’s ongoing influence arrived on October 13, 2010 when Victor Zamora, one of 33 Chilean miners rescued after being trapped in a San Jose mine for 69 days, asked to hear Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” shortly after his release. Recorded in 1980 and posthumously released in 1983, “Buffalo Soldier” recounts the atrocities of the slave trade. Like so many of Bob Marley’s songs, it highlights the importance of relating past occurrences to present-day identities: “if you know your history then you will know where you are coming from, then you wouldn’t have to ask me, who the hell do I think I am?”

As 2011 draws to a close, Occupy Wall St. styled protests spread around the world, challenging social and economic inequality, as well as corporate greed and its influence upon government policy. The uncompromising sentiments expressed on Bob’s “Get Up Stand Up”, lyrics that are repeatedly chanted at these demonstrations, seem to have directly inspired the protesters’ dissenting stance: “Some people think a great God will come down from the sky, take away everything and make everybody feel high/but if you know what life is worth, you will look for yours on earth and now we see the light, we’re gonna stand up for our rights!”

Source: Official Website

Bob Marley: Live in Santa Barbara Tags: bob marley live santa barbara word life production video month

Peace, Love, and wisdom is what you get when listening to the Legendary Bob Marley Tags: bob marley rock hall fame music hall fame word life production feature

Bob Marley was reggae’s foremost practitioner and emissary, embodying its spirit and spreading its gospel to all corners of the globe. His extraordinary body of work embraces the stylistic spectrum of modern Jamaican music - from ska to rock steady to reggae - while carrying the music to another level as a social force with universal appeal. Few others changed the musical and cultural landscape as profoundly as he. As Robert Palmer wrote in a tribute to Marley upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “No one in rock and roll has left a musical legacy that matters more or one that matters in such fundamental ways.”

There’s no question that reggae is legitimately part of the larger culture of rock and roll, partaking of its full heritage of social forces and stylistic influences. In Marley’s own words, “Reggae music, soul music, rock music - every song is a sign.” Marley’s own particular symbolism derived from his beliefs as a Rastafarian - a sect that revered Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (a.k.a. Ras Tafari) as a living god who would lead oppressed blacks back to an African homeland - and his firsthand knowledge of the deprivations of the Jamaican ghettos. His lyrics mixed religious mysticism with calls for political uprising, and Marley delivered them in a passionate, declamatory voice.

Reggae’s loping, hypnotic rhythms carried an unmistakable signature that rose to the fore of the music scene in the Seventies, largely through the recorded work of Marley and the Wailers on the Island and Tuff Gong labels. Such albums as Natty Dread and Rastaman Vibration endure as reggae milestones that gave a voice to the poor and disfranchised citizens of Jamaica and, by extension, the world. In so doing, he also instilled them with pride and dignity in their heritage, however sorrowful the realities of their daily existence. Moreover, Marley’s reggae anthems provided rhythmic uplift that induced what Marley called “positive vibrations” in all who heard it. Regardless of how you heard it - political music suitable for dancing, or dance music with a potent political subtext – Marley’s music was a powerful potion for troubled times.

Marley was born on Jamaica to a young black mother and an older white father. A precocious musician, a teenaged Marley formed a vocal trio in 1963 with friends Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston (later Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh). The group members had grown up in Trench Town, a ghetto neighborhood of Kingston, listening to rhythm and blues on American radio stations. They heard such R&B mainstays as Ray Charles, the Drifters, Fats Domino and Curtis Mayfield. They took the name the Wailing Wailers (shortened to the Wailers) because they were ghetto sufferers who’d been born “wailing.” As practicing Rastas, they grew their hair in dreadlocks and smoked ganja (marijuana), believing it to be a sacred herb that brought enlightenment.

The Wailers recorded prolifically for small Jamaican labels throughout the Sixties, during which time ska – Jamaican dance music that drew from African rhythms and New Orleans R&B – was the hot sound. The Wailers had their first hit in 1963 with “Simmer Down,” and they went on to record 30 sides in the “rude boy” ska style for Jamaican soundman Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One. By this time, Marley’s preoccupations were taking a spiritual turn, and Jamaican music itself was changing from the bouncy ska beat to the more sensual rhythms of rock steady. An association with Jamaican producer Lee Perry resulted in some of the Wailers’ memorable recordings, including “Soul Rebel” and “Duppy Conqueror,” and the albums Soul Rebel and Soul Revolution.

Though the Wailers were popular in Jamaica, it was not until the group signed with Chris Blackwell’s Island Records in the early Seventies that they found an international audience. Their first recordings for Island, Catch a Fire (1973) and Burnin’ (1973), were hard-hitting albums full of what critic Robert Christgau called Marley’s “melodic propaganda.” The latter contained “I Shot the Sheriff.” Reggae aficionado Eric Clapton’s version of the song went to #1 in 1974, which further carried the name of Marley and the Wailers beyond their Jamaican home base.

With the departure of founding members Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer after Burnin’, Marley took center stage as singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist. Backed by a first-rate band and the I-Threes vocal trio – which included his wife, Rita – Marley rose to the occasion with 1974’s Natty Dread (his first album to chart in America) and the string of politically charged albums that followed. These included Rastaman Vibration, his highest-charting album (1976, #8); the fiery, oratorical Exodus (1977, #20); the mellow, herb-extolling Kaya (1978, #50), the live double-album Babylon by Bus (#1978, #102), and the politicized, defiant Survival (1979, #70) and Uprising (1980, #46). Uprising was the last studio album released during Marley’s lifetime.

So influential a cultural icon had Marley become on his home island by the mid-Seventies that Time magazine proclaimed, “He rivals the government as a political force.” On December 5, 1976, Marley was scheduled to give a free “Smile Jamaica” concert, aimed at reducing tensions between warring political factions. Two days before the scheduled concert, he and his entourage were attacked by gunman. Though Bob and Rita Marley were grazed by bullets, they electrified a crowd of 80,000 people when both took to the stage with the Wailers on the 5th - a gesture of survival that only heightened Marley’s legend. It further galvanized his political outlook, resulting in the most militant albums of his career: Exodus, Survival and Uprising.

He was particularly moved throughout his career by the gulf between haves and have-nots, a culture of oppression that was particularly glaring in his poverty- and crime-ridden Jamaican homeland. “We should all come together and creative music and love, but [there] is too much poverty,” Marley told writer Timothy White in 1976. “The most intelligent people [are] the poorest people...[but] people don’t get no time to feel and spend [their] intelligence...The intelligent and innocent are poor, are crumbled and get brutalized. Daily.”

Given the violent culture that he survived and transcended, Marley’s death seems almost cruelly flukish. In 1977, surgeons removed part of a toe that had been injured in a soccer game, upon which a cancerous growth was found. This led to the discovery of spreading cancer in 1980, after Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park, that claimed his life less than a year later. Though he died prematurely at age 36, the heartbeat reggae rhythms of the enormous body of music that Bob Marley left behind have endured. Moreover, Jamaica itself has been transformed by his charismatic personality and musical output. Marley was buried on the island with full state honors on May 21, 1981. In a crowning irony, given the reviled status that Rastafarians and their music had once suffered at the hands of the Jamaican government, Marley’s pacifist reggae anthem, “One Love,” was adapted as a theme song by the Jamaican Tourist Board. Meanwhile, Marley’s music continues to find an audience. With sales of more than 10 million in the U.S. alone, Legend - a best-of spanning the Island Records years (1972-1981) - remains the best-selling album by a Jamaican artist and the best-selling reggae album in history.

Source: Rock Hall of Fame http://rockhall.com/inductees/bob-marley/bio/

FIVE-TIME GRAMMY-WINNING MUSICIAN, ACTOR, ARTIST, ACTIVIST, AND HUMANITARIAN Tags: ziggy marley grammy award winner feature artist word life production

Five-time Grammy-winning musician, actor, artist, activist and humanitarian, Ziggy Marley has established his presence on the public stage for over a quarter-century. Which is why, perhaps, there's a wisp of irony in naming his latest album Wild and Free, given not only the focused writing and recording of his fourth solo studio album, but also Ziggy's concurrent involvement in the ambitious tour which stretched through spring and summer, as well as other projects in the realm of publishing and filmmaking. And with the arrival of a new baby requiring his attention, it's remarkable Ziggy is able to capture the energy to keep his sound wild and free!

 

Ziggy MarleyThe overall theme of the album is a powerful one, as it propels Marley to challenge social injustice along with the political weapons of ignorance and fear. Wild and Free (Tuff Gong Worldwide), his fourth solo album, may be Ziggy's most political and personal to date. Released on June 14th 2011, Wild and Free, was produced with friend and collaborator Don Was at Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, CA as well as Marley's own studio.

 

Ziggy Marley Studio"The thing that makes this new album special is that Ziggy has embraced the more traditional and familiar textures and rhythms of reggae, while further defining the unique artistic vision that sets him apart," says producer Don Was. "His quest to find his own voice within the framework of tradition is the real story of the album." In that quest, Marley finds company in the immense and varied talents of guitarist Takeshi Akimoto (Raya Yarbrough, Dry & Heavy), bassist Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Sting), keyboardist James Poyser (Eryka Badu, Common, Mariah Carey), drummer Carlton "Santa" Davis (Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear) and percussionist Rock Deadrick (Ben Harper, Chicago, Kenny Loggins).

 

Ziggy MarleyWith themes of freedom and responsibility, tempered hope and intemperate love, Wild and Free affirms Marley as a master storyteller with an innate sense of soul. It opens with its title track, "Wild and Free," a rock-fueled reggae anthem with a funky, Stevie Wonder-esque synthesizer solo, written in support of California's Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana. Swapping verses with his friend, actor Woody Harrelson, the two envision "hemp fields growing wild and free" and the far-reaching effects of legalization benefiting small farmers and a myriad of others. Marley provided a free acoustic version of the song to his fans on his website under the alternate title, "A Fire Burns for Freedom."

 

From there it's the funky and fun-loving "Forward To Love," segueing into the first of several cautionary songs, "It" (joined by rapper Heavy D), which implores people to examine long-desired goals. Ziggy rides a swift reggae current on "Changes," joined by songwriter/producer Linda Perry as well as his own son, Daniel, who lends vocals. The self-empowerment anthem "Personal Revolution" opens with a military drumbeat, before adding hot guitar licks and thick Hammond organ fills; in contrast, it's a Wild West guitar that opens "Get Out of Town," moving into a dark beat to take aim at the pollution of the planet and the corrupt powers that control it. Politics is also in the side-view mirror in the spirited "Road Less Traveled," which extols the virtue of bravery in choosing paths that may not be familiar or comfortable.

 

Abraham Marley"Mmmm Mmmm," with its gospel-flavored chorus, gives us Ziggy Marley as he contemplates Jah's view of mankind and our spiritual condition, while "Welcome to the World" (showcasing the newest "wailer," baby Abraham Selassie Robert Nesta Marley) warns, "I can't promise it's a good place" and "you've got to stand up for who you are." Ziggy suggests the consequences of not heeding the warnings of positive change in "A Sign," before slipping into an easier, upbeat groove for the mantric "Reggae in My Head." As Wild and Free opens with a political song, so does it close with "Elizabeth," which casts a cynical eye toward government and its motives.

 

Following spring dates in South America, both as a headliner and teamed with international superstar Shakira, Marley supported the release of his new album with an extensive summer tour schedule. Additionally, a group of themed tribute shows, "Tuff Gong Worldwide and Ziggy Marley Salute the Legends of Reggae," was held for various Southern California venues, including the Hollywood Bowl.

 

Ziggy Marley MarijuanamanAmong other new Marley projects is the comic book Marijuanaman (Image Comics), published on the symbolically potent date of 4/20. Marijuanaman offers a new toke on a familiar genre: a superhero with a galactic view of Earth's dwindling natural resources and how one versatile plant might help save us all. Based on an original character created and developed by Marley, the 48-page, full-color book is written by Joe Casey (GØdland, Butcher Baker) and illustrated by Jim Mahfood (Kick Drum Comix, Mix Tape).

 

Marley Africa Road TripVisiting the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in the footsteps of his father's famous trip to Africa 30 years before, Ziggy collaborated with brothers Robbie and Rohan to turn to the world of documentary filmmaking in Marley African Road Trip. The documentary elevates a family vacation into a more meaningful communal experience. In the film, helmed by documentarian David Alexanian (Long Way Round, Long Way Down), Marley gives free shows in community settings, interacts intimately with his fans, motorbikes the back roads of South Africa, and discovers the joys and angst of camping with siblings.

 

Ziggy also continues to head Tuff Gong Worldwide, in honor of his father's own music label Tuff Gong Records, which envisioned independent ownership of Marley music, and led the relaunch of Bob Marley's official website and a May exhibit at the Grammy Museum in L.A. commemorating the 30th anniversary of his father's passing in 1981. Ziggy recently reclaimed most of the publishing rights to his music from EMI, giving him a strong sense of fulfillment in light of the "independent spirit of what my father dreamed of." This past year, with a mandate to support other Jamaican artists, Tuff Gong released Let's Go Back...Way Back, Vol. 1: Dancehall Originators, the first in a planned series of compilation albums that seek to preserve and promote Jamaican music to new generations.

 

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ziggy Marley and his siblings first sat in on recording sessions with his father's band, the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers, when he was ten years old. Later, Ziggy joined with his sisters Sharon and Cedella and brother Stephen to become Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, allowing him to craft his own soulful sound which blends blues, R&B, hip-hop and roots reggae. The Melody Makers earned their first Grammy (Best Reggae Recording) for their third album Conscious Party (1988), produced by Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, which included the hit songs "Tomorrow People" and "Tumbling Down."

 

Subsequent albums included the Grammy-winning One Bright Day (1989), Jamekya (1991), Joy and Blues (1993), Free Like We Want 2 B (1995), Grammy-winning Fallen is Babylon (1997), Spirit of Music (1999) and Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers Live, Vol. 1 (2000), featuring some of their biggest hits, as well as a cover of Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved." While selling millions of records and selling out numerous concerts, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers never lost sight of their foundations in faith, fellowship and family.

 

Family Time GrammyAfter two decades as the driving creative force behind The Melody Makers, Ziggy's first solo tour came in Summer 2002, on the 23-city Jeep World Outside Festival, joining such artists as Sheryl Crow, Train and O.A.R. The following year saw the release of his debut solo album, Dragonfly, followed by 2006's Love Is My Religion, a Grammy winner that further explored personal, social and political themes amid a fragrant mix of roots reggae, traditional rock 'n roll, African percussion and other varied musical elements. Recently, Marley won his fifth Grammy Award, in the category "Best Musical Album for Children," for Family Time, a 2009 collection of reggae-inflected, family-oriented songs. Family Time features family and friends including; Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Judah Marley, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell and Jamie Lee Curtis.

 

Involved with a breadth of charities, Marley leads his own, URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a non-profit organization that benefits efforts in Jamaica, Ethiopia and other developing nations. The charity's missions range from building new schools to operating health clinics to supporting charities like Mary's Child, a center for abused and neglected girls.

 

Ziggy Marley splits his residency between Florida, Jamaica and California.


 

BOB and Ziggy Marley and Black Internationalism Tags: bob ziggy marley black internationalism word life production music hall of fame

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, many African Americans relished the music of Bob Marley of Jamaica (1945-1981), embraced his Rastafarian beliefs, and grew dreadlocks like those he wore.  Today, Marley enjoys virtually the same heroic stature in the black Diaspora as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.  All three men dedicated their lives to the cause of racial and social justice.  King’s murder in 1968 occurred when he was most engaged in the struggle to forge workers, the poor and African Americans in a coalition against racism, poverty and war.  In the decade and a half after King’s death, Marley shaped reggae music to liberate the minds of his people from neocolonial oppression.  Across the Atlantic, Nelson Mandela survived twenty six years in prison before ending racial apartheid in South Africa.  Marley and Mandela attracted international audiences and followers at a time when issues affecting black Americans aroused little outside interest.  Moreover, Marley’s music also deepens our understanding of the birth of Hip-Hop or Rap music that emerged from the inner city neighborhoods of New York.  Hip-Hop’s subsequent spread around the world signaled the internationalization of African American and helped to unite the black Diaspora.

Marley was a son of the Urban Ghetto of Trench town in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city.  As a young man he became a Rastafarian, the Jamaican culture and religious movement that held the black Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1930-1974) to be divine and sought to win converts through reason and dialogue.  By 1968 Marley was fully engage in writing and performing music that merged culture, religion, and politics in a way that invited dance, but also challenged and excited its listeners’ intellect.  Especially noteworthy were Marley’s three concept albums: Survival, Uprising, and Confrontations, which brought together the themes that, framed his life and work celebrating black survival, challenging mental slavery, and constructing new visions for the future through defiance and hope.  According to scholar Anthony Bogues, “one not only dances to Marley, but one has to both LISTEN to Marley since he is both singing and engaging in social criticism.”  The lyrics, combined with Marley’s conversational style and use of poetry, chants, biblical imagery, and hypnotic offbeat reach across boundaries of class, race, gender, and region.  In “Trench Town” on the confrontation album, Marley sang:

Up a cane to wash my dread

Upon a rock I rest my head

There I vision through the sea of oppression

Don’t make my life a prison

We came from Trench Town…

Can we free our people with music

Lord we free the people with music

We free the people with music, sweet music

 

After Marley’s untimely death in 1981, his musical mission was taken up to the next step by his son Ziggy Marley.  Born in 1968, David Marley, nicknamed “Ziggy” by his father, grew up in Jamaica and the United States.  He began playing music at an early age and formed the band Melody Makers with his three siblings shortly after his father’s death.  Ziggy Marley carried on the reggae tradition but incorporated other sounds from African Diaspora, including blues rock and hip-hop.  In doing so, he continues his father’s tradition of international engagement and politically informed music.

 

Works cited:  Anthony Bogues, Black Heretics, and Black Prophets: Radical Political Intellectuals (New York: Routledge, 2003)

RSS
Spread the word
Search

This website is powered by Spruz