Bob Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981), born Nesta Robert Marley which was later to be changed by passport officials to Robert Nesta Marley, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist. He was the most widely known writer and performer of reggae, and more specifically roots reggae. He is famous for popularising the genre outside of Jamaica and the Caribbean. Much of his music dealt with the struggles of the spiritually wealthy rasta and/or spiritually powerful Jah Rastafari.
Bob Marley was a member of this Rastafari movement, whose culture was a key element in the development of reggae. Bob Marley became the leading proponent of the Rastafari, taking their music out of socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene.
Now considered a “Rasta” prophet, Marley’s adoption of the characteristic Rastafarian dreadlocks and famous use of marijuana as a sacred sacrament in the late sixties were an integral part of his persona. He is said to have entered every performance proclaiming the divinity of Jah Rastafari.
A few months before his death, Marley was baptised into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and took the name Berhane Selassie (meaning the Light of the Holy Trinity in Amharic).
His best known crossover songs are a mixture of reggae, rock, and rhythm and blues, which include “I Shot the Sheriff”, “No Woman No Cry”, “Exodus”, “Could You Be Loved”, “Jamming”, and “Redemption Song”. His posthumous album Legend (1984) became the best-selling reggae album ever, with sales of more than 12 million copies.
Marley tragically died of cancer at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida on May 11, 1981.
In 1993, Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Time magazine chose Bob Marley & The Wailers’ album Exodus as the greatest album of the 20th century.
Bob Marley was a member of the Rastafari movement, (not rastafaranism as that is seen as a derogortory term as Rasta’s don’t like being refered to as an ism) whose culture was a key element in the development of reggae music in Jamaica. Rastas belive they are outcast from their native Zion and looked on Ethiopia as their real home and Tafarai Makonnen, who took the title Haile Sellasie I(Power of the Holy Trinity in Amharic), after he became the emperor of Ethiopia, as their leader. Rastas belive H.I.M. is Jesus in flesh. Rastas are considered to be black Jews. Rastas claim their root from King Solomon and Abbysinian queen of Sheba, through lineage of their son Menelik, emperor of Abbysinia. H.I.M. is said to be a direct decendant of Menelik. ‘Ras’ means Head and ‘Tafarai” means Creator. ‘Jah’ is the shortened form of the Hebrew word Jehovah. Rastas belive in one truth and that is the truth of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Sellasie I, King of kings, Lord of lords, conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, two hundred and twenty-fifth ruler of the three thousand year old Ethiopian empire, elect of Jah, Light of the world. Jah Rastafari live out.Rastas preach a non-materialistic, egalitarian way of life. Bob Marley became a leading proponent of the Rastafari, taking their music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene. Bob Marley was baptized by the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church in Kingston, Jamaica on November 4, 1980. Marley’s diet was ital; fruit, vegetables and fish; which is food approved by the Rastafari movement.
Bob Marley had 13 children: three with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita’s previous relationships, and the remaining eight with separate women.