Reggae Musician. He is best remembered for bringing mainstream cultural acceptance of reggae music outside of Jamaica. His music was especially popular in Africa due much to its smooth combination of Jamaican and African musical sources. Born in Saint Ann, Jamaica, as Robert Nesta Marley, his father was a British Army Officer, Norval St. Clair Marley, and his mother was a Jamaican grocer, Cedella Malcolm (Booker). He was raised in the belief of Rastafari, a religion strongest in Jamaica and based on Ethiopian cultural beliefs. One aspect of the Rasta belief is to grow their hair in dreadlocks, and Marley's dreadlocks became a popular part of his image as a musician. His first recording attempts came in the early 1960s, but it was not until 1964, when he formed the group called "The Wailing Wailers," that he began to hit the Jamaican charts, with the song, "Simmer Down." When the group broke up, he joined his mother in the United States, and after several months, returned to Jamaica, where he rejoined band members Peter McIntosh and Bunny Livingston to reform the Wailing Wailers. By the end of the 1960s, the Wailers were back on top of the charts in Jamaica. In 1972, the group signed to Island Records, and cut their first album, "Catch a Fire" (1972). "Catch a Fire" began their climb to international fame and recognition. In 1975, their third album, "Natty Dread," was released and the group toured Europe. Marley was married in 1966 to Rita Anderson Marley, and had 12 children, of which only five of his children were with Rita (the rest were illegitimate). Active in Jamaican politics, he survived an assassination attempt in 1976, believed due to his support of the Jamaican progressive Prime Minister, Michael Manley, although no one was ever charged with the crime. In 1978, he was awarded the International Peace Medal by the United Nations, and in 1980, was a guest at Zimbabwe's independence celebration. In 1981, he was awarded the Order of Merit, Jamaica's third highest honor, for his contributions to Jamaica's culture. He died in Miami, Florida, of melanoma that had spread to his brain, lungs, and stomach. He was buried with his favorite guitar, a red Fender Stratocaster (some accounts say it was a Gibson Les Paul). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
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