“Reggae's most transcendent and iconic figure, Bob Marley was the first Jamaican artist to achieve international superstardom, in the process introducing the music of his native island nation to the far-flung corners of the globe. His music gave voice to the day-to-day struggles of the Jamaican experience, vividly capturing not only the plight of the country's impoverished and oppressed but also the devout spirituality which remains their source of strength” (Ankeny).
“Robert Nesta Marley was born February 6, 1945 in rural St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica; the son of a middle-aged white father and teenaged black mother. He left home at 14 to pursue a music career in Kingston, becoming a pupil of local singer and devout Rastafarian Joe Higgs. He cut his first single "Judge Not" in 1962 for Leslie Kong, severing ties with the famed producer soon after over a monetary dispute” (Ankeny).
“In 1963 Marley form[ed] the vocal group The Teenagers; later rechristened The Wailing Rudeboys and later simply The Wailers. They signed on with producer Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio One…In early 1964, [their] “Simmer Down” topped the Jamaican charts…in all, The Wailers recorded some 70 tracks…before disbanding in 1966” (Ankeny).
“On February 10 of that year, Marley married Rita Anderson, a singer in the group the Soulettes…Upon returning to Jamaica that October, Marley reformed The Wailers with Bunny Livingstone and Peter Tosh [both of whom were in the original group], releasing "Bend Down Low" on their own short-lived Wail 'N' Soul 'M label. All three members began devoting themselves to the teachings of the Rastafari faith, a cornerstone of Marley's life and music until his death” (Ankeny).
“Beginning in 1968, The Wailers recorded a wealth of material for producer Danny Sims before teaming the following year with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry. Backed by Perry’s house band The Upsetters, the trio cut a number of classics. In 1971 the group founded another independent label, Tuff Gong, releasing a handful of singles before signing to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records a year later” (Ankeny).
“1973's Catch a Fire, The Wailers’ Island debut, was their first album released outside of Jamaica, and immediately earned worldwide acclaim. The follow-up, Burnin’, launched the track "I Shot the Sheriff," a Top Ten hit for Eric Clapton in 1974. With The Wailers poised for stardom, however, both Livingstone and Tosh quit the group to pursue solo careers. Marley then brought in The I-Threes” (Ankeny) featuring his wife Rita.
“In Jamaica, Marley was viewed in almost mystical proportions, a poet and prophet whose every word had the nation's collective ear. His power was perceived as a threat in some quarters, and on December 3, 1976 he was wounded in an assassination attempt; the ordeal forced Marley to leave Jamaica for over a year” (Ankeny).
“In 1980…while jogging in New York's Central Park he collapsed, and it was discovered he suffered from cancer which had spread to his brain, lungs and liver…He died May 11, 1981 at age 36” (Ankeny).
“The best-selling 1984 retrospective Legend kept Marley's music alive, and his renown continued growing in the years following his death — even decades after the fact, he remains synonymous with reggae's worldwide popularity” (Ankeny).