Stephen Marley Biography

Singer, Guitarist (1972–)
Stephen Marley is the third child of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley who has won five Grammys for his music.


Musician Stephen Marley was born on April 20, 1972, in Wilmington Delaware. As the son of the iconic Bob Marley and Rita Marley, Stephen grew up with strong musical influences. Stephen formed the band Melody Makers with his siblings Sharon, Cedella and Ziggy before the band's name changed to Ziggy Marley and the Music Makers. The musical Marley family has found success in the music industry, with Stephen having won five Grammys for his work.

Early Life

Singer, songwriter, musician and producer was born on April 20, 1972, in Wilmington, Delaware. The second son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, Stephen Marley has been blazing his own trail in the music world, combining reggae, hip-hop and R&B styles to create his sound as a performer, songwriter and producer.

Marley was the third child born to Rita and Bob Marley. He has an older sister Cedella and an older brother David "Ziggy" as well as an older half-sister Sharon from his mother's previous relationship. Not long after his birth, two new half-brothers, Robert and Rohan, arrived from two of his father's relationships outside of his marriage to Rita. His father had several more children with other women, including Damian "Gong Jr." Julian, and Ky-Mani Marley. While his mother may not have been thrilled with the situation, all of the children knew each other well growing up.

With Sharon, Cedella and Ziggy, he recorded his first song, "Children Playing in the Streets," in 1979. Written by their father, the single addressed the horrible poverty that many children in Jamaica were living in. Royalties from the song were donated to the United Nations Children's Fund.

Melody Makers Form

After his father's death in 1981, Marley performed with his older brother Ziggy at his funeral. The brothers went on to form the Melody Makers with Sharon and Cedella. While all four members provided the vocals, Stephen played the guitar as well and the drums. Performing as the Melody Makers, they released their next single, "What a Plot," later in 1981.

In 1985, the Melody Makers released their first album, Play the Game Right. But it failed to catch on. Their next effort, Hey World! (1986), met a similar fate, though it did receive many positive reviews. Changing names and record companies, the group became Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers and released Conscious Party (1988) with Virgin Records.

The album helped the group break through to mainstream audiences. Produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads, it incorporated elements of reggae, pop and rock. The song "Tomorrow People" became popular with many listeners, and the album did well on both the pop and R&B/hip-hop charts in the United States. That year, the group brought home the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording.

More Grammys

With their next album, One Bright Day (1989), Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers had another critical success on their hands. They won the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording. But their record sales did not match their previous record. They made several more albums together in the 1990s, including the Grammy Award-winning Babylon Is Fallen (1997), before later disbanding.

Already an accomplished songwriter, Marley began to take on more behind-the-scenes projects. He produced or co-produced albums for Damian Marley, including the 2001 critically acclaimed Halfway Tree and the 2005 smash hit Welcome to Jamrock. Both of which won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for their respective years.

Solo Career

Stepping back into the spotlight, Marley released his first solo album, Got Music?, in 2005. But his real breakthrough as an artist came two years later with Mind Control (2007). This time his brothers, Damian, Ziggy and Julian, played supporting roles, providing songwriting support and guest vocals while Stephen took the lead. In addition to reaching the top of the reggae charts, the recording also did well on the pop and hip-hop charts. Mind Control won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2007.

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