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Jamaican singer, musician and songwriter Bob Marley served as a world ambassador for reggae music and sold more than 20 million records throughout his career—making him the first international superstar to emerge from the so-called Third World.
Bob Marley - Mini Biography (2:50)
Bob Marley - Lyceum Theater (2:07)
Bob Marley - The Creed (2:08)
Rita Marley - Band Attacks (2:13)
Bob Marley helped introduce reggae music to the world and remains one of the genre's most beloved artists to this day.
Bob Marley saw his fame skyrocket during a time of political turbulence. In England, he was booked at the Lyceum Theater and Marley fans filled the theater to hear and feel Marley's message.
Bandmates of The Wailers are interviewed and discuss how Marley's friendship with the band, and his beliefs regarding the Rasta Revolution.
Performer and political activist Bob Marley's widow, Rita, recalls the violent attacks on their band in their native Jamaica.
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For a time in the late 1960s, Marley worked with pop singer Johnny Nash. Nash scored a worldwide hit with Marley's song "Stir It Up." The Wailers also worked with producer Lee Perry during this era; some of their successful songs together were "Trench Town Rock," "Soul Rebel" and "Four Hundred Years."
The Wailers added two new members in 1970: bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his brother, drummer Carlton "Carlie" Barrett. The following year,
Marley worked on a movie soundtrack in Sweden with Johnny Nash.
The Wailers got their big break in 1972 when they landed a contract with Island Records, founded by Chris Blackwell. For the first time, the group hit the studios to record a full album. The result was the critically acclaimed Catch a Fire. To support the record, the Wailers toured Britain and the United States in 1973, performing as an opening act for both Bruce Springsteen and Sly & the Family Stone. That same year, the group released their second full album, Burnin', featuring the hit song "I Shot the Sheriff." Rock legend Eric Clapton released a cover of the song in 1974, and it became a No. 1 hit in the United States.
Before releasing their next album, 1975's Natty Dread, two of the three original Wailers left the group; McIntosh and Livingston decided to pursue solo careers as Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, respectively. Natty Dread reflected some of the political tensions in Jamaica between the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party. Violence sometimes erupted due to these conflicts. "Rebel Music (3 O'clock Road Block)" was inspired by Marley's own experience of being stopped by army members late one night prior to the 1972 national elections, and "Revolution" was interpreted by many as Marley's endorsement for the PNP.
For their next tour, the Wailers performed with I-Threes, a female group whose members included Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Marley's wife, Rita. Now called Bob Marley & The Wailers, the group toured extensively and helped increase reggae's popularity abroad. In Britain in 1975, they scored their first Top 40 hit with "No Woman, No Cry."
Already a much-admired star in his native Jamaica, Marley was on his way to becoming an international music icon. He made the U.S. music charts with the album Rastaman Vibration in 1976. One track stands out as an expression of his devotion to his faith and his interest in political change: "War." The song's lyrics were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie, the 20th century Ethiopian emperor who is seen as a type of a spiritual leader in the Rastafarian movement. A battle cry for freedom from oppression, the song discusses a new Africa, one without the racial hierarchy enforced by colonial rule.
Back in Jamaica, Marley continued to be seen as a supporter of the People's National Party. And his influence in his native land was seen as a threat to the PNP's rivals. This may have led to the assassination attempt on Marley in 1976. A group of gunmen attacked Marley and the Wailers while they were rehearsing on the night of December 3, 1976, two days before a planned concert in Kingston's National Heroes Park.
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From Babylon to Zion, they are the international artists who have revolutionized reggae, a musical genre that originated in Jamaica in the 1960s. At that time, the genre took on a more pop-based sound. Over the past several decades, however, reggae music has transformed to include various sub-genres such as rocksteady, roots reggae and steppa. Our list of Reggae Artists includes musicians of various styles and experiences, from Rastafarians to raggamuffins to sapps, to everyday mon; read about world-renowned musicians like Toots Hibbert, Peter Tosh, Judge Dread, Alton Ellis and Bob Marley.
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They make music with instruments they were born with - their voices. Gifted vocalists have entertained audiences across musical genres from the tour de force arias of Luciano Pavarotti to the classic crooning of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to the soulful vocals of artists like Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. With their powerful lyricism, singers like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen became poet laureates of American music while artists including Joan Baez and Joe Strummer used their voices to prompt social change while they entertained. Rockers from Elvis Presley to The Beatles to Kurt Cobain helped define their generations through their songs while icons like Michael Jackson, Cher and Whitney Houston shaped pop culture with their larger-than-life voices and personas. See these and more famous singers who have struck a chord in musical history.
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