A Bob Marley biography tells the story of a powerful, spiritual and talented man who rose from abject poverty to become a true musical legend. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Marley introduced reggae music and the Rastafarian faith to the world while taking both concepts to a higher level.
Robert Nesta Marley was born on Feb. 6, 1945 in Rhoden Hall, Jamaica. His mother Cedella Booker, was a poor black teenager and his father, Norval Marley, was an older white Captain in the British West Indian Regiment. Norval was an absentee father who died when Marley was only 10 years old.
In the late 1950s, Marley and his mother moved to Kingston, Jamaica. They lived in the poorest slum, known as Trench Town. Marley escaped his surroundings by learning to play the guitar and sing. He recorded his first single, "Judge Not," in 1962, but his solo songs captured little attention. In 1963 he formed the group the Wailing Wailers with childhood friends. Their first single, "Simmer Down," hit the top of the Jamaican charts in 1964.
In 1966 Marley married Rita Anderson, who introduced him to the Rastafarian faith. Marley continued recording music with his group and became very involved in the Rastafarian sulture. In 1972, the group got their first big break when they signed a contract with Island Records. The group released Catch A Fire and followed with a 1973 tour of the US and UK. They also released the album, Burnin, which featured the popular song, "I Shot the Sheriff."
In 1974, two main members of the group decided to pursue solo careers and Marley renamed his group Bob Marley and the Wailers. He released Natty Dread in 1975 and Rastaman Vibration in 1976. In 1976 an assassination attempt was made on Marley's life. Though he performed at a planned concert, Marley fled the country the day after the performance and lived in England for two years. He released Exodus and Kaya while living in England.
In 1977 Marley went to a doctor to ask about a toe wound that would not heal. Upon examination, the doctor discovered Marley was suffering from malignant melanoma. Marley refused to have the toe amputated and resumed his career. In 1979 he was awarded an International Peace Award from the United Nations; in 1980 he was the only foreign artist invited to the independence ceremony in Zimbabwe.
While touring in America, Marley went jogging in Central Park and collapsed on Sept. 21, 1980. Doctors discovered his cancer had moved into his brains, stomach and lungs. Though he tried many homeopathic remedies, Marley died in Miami on May 11, 1981.
Marley and his wife, Rita, remained married for life, but conducted an open marriage. Marley and Rita had four children together and Marley adopted Rita's child from a previous relationship. Marley also had at least seven illegitimate children. His youngest child was born 11 days after Marley died. His most famous children are Ziggy, Julian and Damian Marley, who have followed in their family's musical footsteps.