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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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One bullet struck Marley in the sternum and the bicep, and another hit his wife, Rita, in the head. Fortunately, the Marleys were not severely injured, but manager Don Taylor was not as fortunate. Shot five times, Taylor had to undergo surgery to save his life. Despite the attack and after much deliberation, Marley still played at the show. The motivation behind the attack was never uncovered, and Marley fled the country the day after the concert.
Living in London, England,
Marley went to work on Exodus, which was released in 1977. The title track draws an analogy between the biblical story of Moses and the Israelites leaving exile and his own situation. The song also discusses returning to Africa. The concept of Africans and descendents of Africans repatriating their homeland can be linked to the work of Marcus Garvey. Released as a single, "Exodus" was a hit in Britain, as were "Waiting in Vain" and "Jamming," and the entire album stayed on the U.K. charts for more than a year. Today, Exodus is considered to be one of the best albums ever made.
Marley had a health scare in 1977. He sought treatment in July of that year on a toe he had injured earlier that year. After discovering cancerous cells in his toe, doctors suggested amputation. Marley refused to have the surgery, however, because his religious beliefs prohibited amputation.
While working on Exodus, Marley and the Wailers recorded songs that were later released on the album Kaya (1978). With love as its theme, the work featured two hits: "Satisfy My Soul" and "Is This Love." Also in 1978, Marley returned to Jamaica to perform his One Love Peace Concert, where he got Prime Minister Michael Manley of the PNP and opposition leader Edward Seaga of the JLP to shake hands on stage.
That same year, Marley made his first trip to Africa, and visited Kenya and Ethiopia—an especially important nation to him, as it's viewed as the spiritual homeland of Rastafarians. Perhaps inspired by his travels, his next album, Survival (1979), was seen as a call for both greater unity and an end to oppression on the African continent. In 1980, Bob Marley & The Wailers played an official independence ceremony for the new nation of Zimbabwe.
A huge international success, Uprising (1980) featured "Could You Be Loved" and "Redemption Song." Known for its poetic lyrics and social and political importance, the pared down, folk-sounding "Redemption Song" was an illustration of Marley's talents as a songwriter. One line from the song reads: "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."
On tour to support the album, Bob Marley & The Wailers traveled throughout Europe, playing in front of large crowds. The group also planned a series of concerts in the United States, but the group would play only two concerts—at Madison Square Garden in New York City—before Marley became ill. The cancer discovered earlier in his toe had spread throughout his body.
Traveling to Europe, Bob Marley underwent unconventional treatment in Germany, and was subsequently able to fight off the cancer for months.
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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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