Born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, Bob Nesta Donald Marley was the son of a white 60-year-old plantation overseer and a black 19-year-old country village girl. He lived in the slums of Jamaica in his early childhood, which usually leads to creating a mindset of blaming, negativism, revenge, hopelessness, and more. Instead, his heart was full of love, gratitude and joy. He first achieved that by using the hardships to come out stronger.
The first challenge life brought him that had to do with finding his identity, was his mixed race. That even led to being bullied. His mother named him Nesta. However, the official institutions didn’t like it and changed it to Robert. He spent his first years in a rural village, but later the family moved to Kingston, Jamaica, with hopes of making a better life for themselves. There, they continued living in poverty. Bob Marley was referred to as the ‘white boy’ by locals, as his face obviously had many features of the white race. That made him feel isolated from the people there, although he wanted to be part of the community. Robert Nesta Marley decided that these events don’t necessarily need to shape who he is and what his future will look like. He accepted these roadblocks as parts of the journey, and didn’t let them cloud his vision or take control over his thoughts and peace of mind. He accepted that he’s part of 2 races, became confident about his origin, and considered himself on God’s side. He said that all this helped him develop his philosophy and that he was neither on the white man’s side, nor the black’s. In 1970, Bob Marley founded a record label called Tuff Gong. Later on in England, The Wailers receive their first serious contract which brought them worldwide exposure. Bob Marley’s first album is Natty Dread. At that period of his life he performs on stage with Stevie Wonder. The last show with The Wailers also happens at that time.
The band disbanded in 1974, with each of the three main members pursuing a solo career. In 1975, Bob had his first international hit – “No Woman, No Cry”, 13 years after recording his first song.
Throughout his career, he wrote and sang about racism, unemployment, inequality and political violence in Jamaica and around the world. That turned him into an influential cultural icon and one of the most inspiring international artists.
In 1976, there was an assassination attempt on his life and the person responsible for it was never found. Bob Marley was shot, but survived. The attack happened 2 days before he had a big concert, but that didn’t stop him from getting on stage in front of 80,000 people and doing what he does best – sharing his message with the world through his music. He was asked why he decided to play even though he was injured. His answer was this “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
The reason for his actual death was cancer, and he refused to have treatment due to his religious principles. Things got worse during the next 4 years as the cancer spread to his brain. Bob Marley died at the age of 36 and was buried in Jamaica. His last words were: “money can’t buy life.”
Bob Marley’s life is an example of following your passion, turning the negative into positive, inspiring generations, having a purpose and not giving up in the face of injustice. That didn’t remain unrecognized. He was voted as one of the greatest lyricists of all time by the BBC. Rolling Stone ranked him as No.11 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. And Exodus was voted Album of the Century by Time Magazine in 1999.
When he died, he left a legacy like few artists ever could. His philosophy will live on as long as his music is with us, and every new generation will hear about the Jamaican musician who started from nothing and changed the world with his art.