Born in 1945 in a rural area of Jamaica to a white father and a teenage local girl, he left home as a young teenager, heading to Kingston, where he made his first record aged 17. Shortly after Marley formed a group called the Teenagers, who soon became the Wailing Rudeboys before simply calling themselves The Wailers. During 1964 and '65 they had numerous hits in Jamaica before they split up and Marley moved to America where his mother was living.
On his return to Jamaica in 1966 Marley formed a new incarnation of the Wailers and made a number of recordings with Lee 'Scratch' Perry before eventually signing to Chris Blackwell's Island Records, releasing Catch A Fire in the spring of 1973. The follow-up Burnin' included I Shot The Sheriff made even more famous by the Eric Clapton cover version - as well as Get Up Stand Up.Â It was after this that Wailers' founding members Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh left and Marley recruited new singers before recording Natty Dread, which is for some the greatest reggae album of all time. It includes the seminal No Woman No Cry, which was also the first single to chart in Britain in 1975. The following year Roots, Rock, Reggae from Rastaman Vibration was Marley's first American hit single and the album from which it was taken cracked the top 10 of the U.S. album charts and remains his most successful album in America.
After an attempted assassination Marley left Jamaica and recorded the Grammy Hall of Fame's Exodus, his biggest selling record that included Jamming, Waiting in Vain and the title track, which was his second big UK single. Following the release of Kaya, Marley's highest placed album on the U.K. charts, Babylon By Bus and Survival, it was discovered that Marley had inoperable cancer and he died aged 36 on 11 May 1981. The last album to be released in his lifetime was Uprising, from which was taken Could You be Loved, which became his best performing U.K. single prior to his untimely death. His legend lives on and the release of the 'Marley' movie in 2012 is a superb tribute to the man who made Reggae such a popular form of music around the world.
Robert Nesta Marley was born February 6, 1945, in rural St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica; the son of a middle-aged white father and teenaged black mother, he left home at 14 to pursue a music career in Kingston, becoming a pupil of local singer and devout Rastafarian Joe Higgs. He cut his first single, "Judge Not," in 1962 for Leslie Kong, severing ties with the famed producer soon after over a monetary dispute. In 1963 Marley teamed with fellow singers Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston, Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, and Cherry Smith to form the vocal group the Teenagers; later rechristened the Wailing Rudeboys and later simply the Wailers, they signed on with producer Coxsone Dodd's legendary Studio One and recorded their debut, "I'm Still Waiting." When Braithwaite and Smith exited the Wailers, Marley assumed lead vocal duties, and in early 1964 the group's follow-up, "Simmer Down," topped the Jamaican charts. A series of singles including "Let Him Go (Rude Boy Get Gail)," "Dancing Shoes," "Jerk in Time," "Who Feels It Knows It," and "What Am I to Do" followed, and in all, the Wailers recorded some 70 tracks for Dodd before disbanding in 1966. On February 10 of that year, Marley married Rita Anderson, a singer in the group the Soulettes; she later enjoyed success as a member of the vocal trio the I-Threes. Marley then spent the better part of the year working in a factory in Newark, DE, the home of his mother since 1963.
Upon returning to Jamaica that October, Marley re-formed the Wailers with Livingston and Tosh, releasing "Bend Down Low" on their own short-lived Wail 'N' Soul 'M label; at this time all three members began devoting themselves to the teachings of the Rastafari faith, a cornerstone of Marley's life and music until his death. Beginning in 1968, the Wailers recorded a wealth of new material for producer Danny Sims before teaming the following year with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry; backed by Perry's house band, the Upsetters, the trio cut a number of classics, including "My Cup," "Duppy Conqueror," "Soul Almighty," and "Small Axe," which fused powerful vocals, ingenious rhythms, and visionary production to lay the groundwork for much of the Jamaican music in their wake. Upsetters bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his drummer brother Carlton soon joined the Wailers full-time, and in 1971 the group founded another independent label, Tuff Gong, releasing a handful of singles before signing to Island Records a year later.
1973's Catch a Fire, the Wailers' Island debut, was the first of their albums released outside of Jamaica, and immediately earned worldwide acclaim; the follow-up, Burnin', launched the track "I Shot the Sheriff." With the Wailers poised for stardom, however, both Livingston and Tosh quit the group to pursue solo careers; Marley then brought in the I-Threes, which in addition to Rita Marley consisted of singers Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. The new lineup proceeded to tour the world prior to releasing their 1975 breakthrough album Natty Dread, scoring their first U.K. Top 40 hit with the classic "No Woman, No Cry." Sellout shows at the London Lyceum, where Marley played to racially mixed crowds, yielded the superb Live! later that year, and with the success of 1976's Rastaman Vibration, which hit the Top Ten in the U.S., it became increasingly clear that his music had carved its own niche within the pop mainstream.
As great as Marley's fame had grown outside of Jamaica, at home he was viewed as a figure of almost mystical proportions, a poet and prophet whose every word had the nation's collective ear. His power was perceived as a threat in some quarters, and on December 3, 1976, he was wounded in an assassination attempt; the ordeal forced Marley to leave Jamaica for over a year. 1977's Exodus was his biggest record to date, generating the hits "Jamming," "Waiting in Vain," and "One Love/People Get Ready"; Kaya was another smash, highlighted by the gorgeous "Is This Love" and "Satisfy My Soul." Another classic live date, Babylon by Bus, preceded the release of 1979's Survival. 1980 loomed as Marley's biggest year yet, kicked off by a concert in the newly liberated Zimbabwe; a tour of the U.S. was announced, but while jogging in New York's Central Park he collapsed, and it was discovered he suffered from cancer that had spread to his brain, lungs, and liver. Uprising was the final album released in Marley's lifetime -- he died May 11, 1981, at age 36.
Posthumous efforts including 1983's Confrontation, the best-selling 1984 retrospective Legend, and the 2012 documentary Marley kept the man's music alive, and his renown continued to grow in the years following his death -- even decades after the fact, he remains synonymous with reggae's world-wide popularity. In the wake of her husband's passing, Rita Marley scored a solo hit with "One Draw," but despite the subsequent success of singles "Many Are Called" and "Play Play," she had largely withdrawn from performing to focus on raising her children by the mid-'80s. Oldest son David, better known as Ziggy, went on to score considerable pop success as the leader of the Melody Makers, a Marley family group comprised of siblings Cedella, Stephen, and Sharon; their 1988 single "Tomorrow People" was a Top 40 U.S. hit, a feat even Bob himself never accomplished. Three other Marley children -- Damian, Julian, and Ky-Mani -- pursued careers in music as well.
Originally issued in 1970, Soul Rebels was the first album credited to Bob Marley & the Wailers, and it was also the band's first full-length collaboration with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry for whom they had already recorded a string of fairly successful singles. Working with the newly configured Upsetters band, Marley and crew delivered a strange and wonderful set of early reggae that at times plays fast and loose with the already established conventions of the genre -- on "My Cup" the beat sounds inside out, while "It's Alright" sounds like a slightly Jamaicanized version of Motown soul.
Other songs, such as the beautifully harmonized "Try Me," show their deep roots in rocksteady. One of the most arresting tracks on the album is the Peter Tosh sung "Four Hundred Years," on which Tosh unburdens himself of some of his typically dread pronouncements in his rich, chesty voice.
All the songs were originals, and the instrumentation was minimalistic in order to bring out the passionate, often politically charged lyrics. Much of the appeal of the album lies in its sincerity and sense of purpose -- these are streetwise yet disarmingly idealistic young men who look around themselves and believe they might help change the world through music.
Marley sings about the current state of urban poverty ("Concrete Jungle") and connects the present to past injustices ("Slave Driver"), but he is a not a one-trick pony. He is a versatile songwriter who also excels at singing love songs such as his classic "Stir It Up." Peter Tosh sings the lead vocal on two of his own compositions -- his powerful presence and immense talent hint that he would eventually leave for his own successful solo career.
More than anything else, however, this marks the emergence of Bob Marley and the international debut of reggae music. Marley would continue to achieve great critical and commercial success during the 1970s, but Catch a Fire is one of the finest reggae albums ever. This album is essential for any music collection.
Words - Vik Iyengar
This album dates from 1973 and features the original band of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and was the last before Tosh and Bunny left the band and Bob's new band became known as Bob Marley & the Wailers, The album opens with the classic, "Get Up, Stand Up" and also features "I Shot the Sheriff" that Eric Clapton and help make so popular when it came out on his album, 461 Ocean Boulevard.
The Wailers' rhythm section of bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett and drummer Carlton "Carlie" Barrett remained in place and even contributed to the songwriting, while Marley added a female vocal trio, the I-Threes (which included his wife Rita Marley), and additional instrumentation to flesh out the sound.
The material presented here defines what reggae was originally all about, with political and social commentary mixed with religious paeans to Jah. The celebratory "Lively Up Yourself" falls in the same vein as "Get Up, Stand Up" from Burnin'. "No Woman, No Cry" is one of the band's best-known ballads. "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" is a powerful warning that "a hungry mob is an angry mob." "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Road Block)" and "Revolution" continue in that spirit, as Marley assumes the mantle of prophet abandoned by '60s forebears like Bob Dylan.
In addition to the lyrical strengths, the music itself is full of emotion and playfulness, with the players locked into a solid groove on each number. Considering that popular rock music was entering the somnambulant disco era as Natty Dread was released, the lyrical and musical potency is especially striking. Marley was taking on discrimination, greed, poverty, and hopelessness while simultaneously rallying the troops as no other musical performer was attempting to do in the mid-'70s.
Words - Jim Newsom.
For Bob Marley, 1975 was a triumphant year. The singer's Natty Dread album featured one of his strongest batches of original material (the first compiled after the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer) and delivered Top 40 hit "No Woman No Cry." The follow-up Live set, a document of Marley's appearance at London's Lyceum, found the singer conquering England as well. Upon completing the tour, Marley and his band returned to Jamaica, laying down the tracks for Rastaman Vibration (1976) at legendary studios run by Harry Johnson and Joe Gibbs.
Exodus is the ninth studio album released by Jamaican Reggae band Bob Marley & The Wailers. On 3 December 1976 an assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley’s life in which his chest was grazed and his arm was struck, he survived. Following the attempt Marley left Jamaica and was exiled to London where Exodus was recorded. It was on 3 June 1977 that Exodus was released on Island Records. Exodus is widely considered to be the album that propelled Marley to international stardom.
In 2007 Exodus was remastered and re-released for its 30th anniversary. The re-release sparked new interest in the album which many argue is one of Marley’s best works. Exodus has more tracks on Marley’s greatest hits album, Legend, which is the highest selling reggae album of all time - than any of his other records.
Kaya is a roots reggae album released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1978. The album consists of tracks recorded alongside those present on the Exodus album in 1977. The album has a very relaxed, laid back sound, lacking much of the militant quality of the Wailers lyrically and musically.
The album's release coincided with the One Love Peace Concert, heralding Marley's triumphant return to Jamaica from exodus in London. Many of the songs present on this album, as well as its sister album Exodus, are rerecorded versions of older tracks present on albums like African Herbsman. Well known songs from the album include "Is This Love" and "Sun Is Shining". Kaya reached the top five in the UK album charts.
Uprising would be the final studio album featuring Bob Marley & the Wailers to be released during Marley's lifetime. Prophetically, it also contains some of the band's finest crafted material, as if they were cogent that this would be their final outing. The album's blend of religious and secular themes likewise creates a very powerful and singular quest for spirituality in a material world. Although it is argued that an album's graphic design rarely captures the essence of the work inside, the powerful rebirthing image of a rock solid Marley emerging with his arms raised in triumph could not be a more accurate visual description of the musical jubilation within.
Musically, the somewhat staid rhythms often synonymous with reggae have been completely turned around to include slinky and liquid syncopation. "Work," "Pimper's Paradise," and the lead-off track "Coming in From the Cold" are all significant variations on the lolloping Rasta beat. The major difference is the sonic textures that manipulate and fill those patterns. The inventive and unique guitar work of Al Anderson -- the only American member of the original Wailers -- once again redefines the role of the lead electric guitar outside of its standard rock & roll setting. "Zion Train" is awash in wah-wah-driven patterns creating an eerie, almost ethereal backdrop against Marley's lyrics, which recollect images from Peter Tosh's "Stop That Train" all the way back on Marley & the Wailers' international debut Catch a Fire.
The final track on the original pressing of Uprising is "Redemption Song." Never has an artist unknowingly written such a beautiful and apropos living epitaph. The stark contrast from the decidedly electric and group-oriented album to this hauntingly beautiful solo acoustic composition is as dramatic as it is visionary. Less than a year after the release of Uprising, Marley would succumb to cancer. The 2001 "Definitive Remaster" version of Uprising contains the band version of "Redemption Song" and the 12" mix of "Could You Be Loved.
Words - Lindsay Planer.
As the title implies, this is indeed Bob Marley & the Wailers captured in performance at the Lyceum Ballroom in London during the final U.K. leg of the Natty Dread tour. Passionate and symbiotic energies constantly cycle between the band and audience, the net result of which is one of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era.
Legend is a compilation album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, released in 1984 by Island Records. It is a greatest hits collection of singles in its original vinyl format, and the best-selling reggae album of all-time, with over 14 million copies sold in the United States and approximately 25 million copies sold globally. In 2003, the album was ranked number 46 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.