Bob Marley… Forty years after, his voice still resonates
The saying, “Rastafarians (reggae artistes) don’t die, they just transit” may be true. Tuesday, May 11, made it exactly 40 years the reggae icon, Robert Nesta Marley better known as Bob Marley passed on at age 36, in Miami, Florida, after battling cancer.
However, he lives, as his voice is still being heard, especially in our country through his classic records: Wailing wailers, Man to Man, No Woman No Cry, One Love, Exodus and Redemption Song, among other evergreen philosophical hits that resonates with the present state of our nation. Even in death, his music reigns.
His 1977 album Exodus was declared ‘Album of the Century’ (20th Century) by Time Magazine in 1999, just as his Buffalo Soldier hit was the biggest in the UK, reaching number four in May 1983. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) declared the single, One Love, a track of the Exodus album song of the millennium.
As one of the most celebrated and recognised artistes in music history, Legend a compilation of his best songs released after his death in 1984, sold over 25 million copies and it is reputed to be the best selling reggae album of all times.
Born February 6, 1945 in Nine Mile, British Jamaica, to a white middle class father and a black mother, Marley’s childhood was spent in poverty and he had little contact with his father, Norval Sinclair Marley, a naval officer who worked for the British government. He left home at age 14 to pursue a music career in Kingston, but began his professional musical career in 1963, after forming his band, Bob Marley and The Wailers.
The group released its debut studio album The Wailing Wailers in 1965, which contained the single One Love/People Get Ready. The song became popular worldwide, and established the group as a rising figure in reggae. The group subsequently released 11 other studio albums.
Employing louder instrumentation and singing, the group began engaging in rhythmic-based song construction in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which coincided with Marley’s conversion to Rastafari, a creed popular among the impoverished people of the Caribbean.
During this period, the reggae icon relocated to London with the band, where they embodied their musical shift with the release of the album The Best of The Wailers in 1971. The group attained international success after the release of the albums Catch a Fire and Burnin’ (both 1973), and forged a reputation as touring artistes.
Following the disbandment of the band a year later, Marley went on to release his solo album entitled Natty Dread, which received positive reception, as did its follow-up titled Rastaman Vibration in 1976.
A few months after the album’s release he survived an assassination attempt at his home in Jamaica. This prompted him to permanently relocate to London. During his time in London, he recorded the album Exodus (1977); it incorporated elements of blues, soul, and British rock and enjoyed widespread commercial and critical success.
He followed this up with the Survival (1979), a defiant and politically charged album, as it was considered heavier with Afro-centric themes with songs such as Africa Unite, Wake Up and Live, Survival and Zimbabwe. The songs reflected the icon’s support for the struggles of Africans.
As one of the pioneers of reggae genre, Marley’s career was marked by his fusion of elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, as well as his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. His poetic worldview was shaped by the countryside, his music by the tough West Kingston ghetto streets.
No comments yet