From reading people's palms to his love for football, Marley had an eventful life.
Few musicians remain as beloved and revered as the late Bob Marley, who would’ve been 72 years old if he were still alive.
So it’s no surprise that fans and institutions around the world will be paying tribute to the reggae legend on the 36th anniversary of his death.
Before his death from cancer in 1981 at age 36, Marley received The United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World in 1978. Also, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
The BBC proclaimed Marley’s ‘One Love’ as Song of the Millennium and in 2001, Marley was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys.
He was nicknamed ‘White Boy’ at a young age
Marley’s father was a white British naval captain named Norval Sinclair Marley, who was nearly 60 at the time. His mother, Cedella, was a 19-year-old country village girl.
Because of his mixed racial makeup, Bob was bullied and nicknamed ‘White Boy’ by his neighbours. However, he later said the experience helped him develop this philosophy: I’m not on the white man’s side, or the black man’s side. I’m on God’s side.’
From a ghetto fortune-teller to singer
When he was a child, Marley seemed to have a skill for spooking people by successfully predicting their futures by reading their palms.
At seven, after a year spent living in the ghettos of Kingston, he returned to his rural village and declared that his new destiny was to become a singer. From then on, he refused all requests to read palms.
Forming a band and smoking ganja
He and his friends spent a lot of time listening to rhythm and blues on American radio stations. They named their band the Wailing Wailers (later shortened to the Wailers) because they were ghetto sufferers.
As practicing Rastafarians, they grew their hair in dreadlocks and smoked ganja (marijuana) because they believed it to be a sacred herb that brought enlightenment and a lot of people weren’t allowed to use it.
The Wailers recorded for small Jamaican labels throughout the 1960s, during which time ska became the hot sound.
Marley’s lyrics took a more spiritual turn, and Jamaican music itself was changing from the bouncy ska beat to the more sensual rhythms of rock steady.
When the group signed with Island Records in the early 1970s, they became popular with international audiences.
The kids were always welcomed
Bob was well known for being a bit of a ladies man. Throughout his life he had an involvement in the lives of different women. Several of these women bore him children – he had one main pick-up line:
‘Yuh wan have ma baby?’
He married Rita in 1966 at 21 (she was a Sunday school teacher at the time) and stayed married to her until his death. He adopted her daughter from a previous relationship and they had four children together during their marriage.
Marley also had at least eight more children with eight different women. Rumors allude to several other unclaimed children but those named officially are: Imani, Sharon, Cedella, David (aka Ziggy), Stephen, Robbie, Rohan, Karen, Stephanie, Julian, Ky-Mani, Damian and Madeka.
In Marley’s words; ‘Children are wonderful. It don’t take plenty y’know. Just a nice girl who don’t take birth control. Sexual intercourse is a lovely thing.’
Helping the needy
Once he’d found success Marley became extremely generous with his money. Having grown up in a poor family in Jamaica he knew how difficult it was to get by.
He decided to put his goodwill into practice by buying houses for friends and supported many of the poor in Jamaica.
A 1977 football injury led doctors to discover a malignant melanoma in Marley’s toe.
They recommended amputation, but he refused for religious reasons. The tumour then spread, which ultimately caused his death.
While Bob was terminally ill he wanted to end his days in Jamaica, but unfortunately, on the Germany to Jamaica journey, he didn’t make it past Miami.
He was buried on home turf along with a soccer ball, his Gibson Les Paul guitar, and a bud of marijuana.
Now a global marijuana brand
As celebrity endorsements go, it certainly seems like a perfect fit: Under the label Marley Natural, the reggae icon is poised to become the face of the world’s first global marijuana brand.
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