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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bob Marley

Bob Marley
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Happy Birthday, Bob Marley! The reggae icon is still considered a national hero in Jamaica and was instrumental in bringing mainstream attention to reggae music. Thanks to the Marley children — most notably Ziggy, Stephen, Ky-mani, Julien and Damian — they continue to carry the musical torch and inspire a new generation of fans.

On May 11, 1981, Marley passed away due to lung cancer and brain tumor. Although he may be gone, his musical legacy lives forever. In honor of his 68th birthday, presents a list of 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bob Marley. Let’s celebrate his greatness as a musician and as a humanitarian. One love.


Bob Marley sang in a doo-wop group.



In 1964, Bob Marley formed a ska group called the Wailin’ Wailers (“Because we started out crying,” quips Marley). In 1965, the group achieved their first big hit in Jamaica with ‘Simmer Down.’ The song reportedly sold 80,000 copies on the island.



He lived in the U.S. for a short period of time.



When Marley came to America in 1966, to stay with his mother, Cedella Booker, he worked several jobs including a waiter, an assembly worker in the Chrysler plant and a forklift operator.



The reggae crooner was a marijuana advocate.



Marley advocated marijuana as part of his Rastafarian lifestyle but also for its importance as a natural resource. “The more you accept herb, the more you accept Rastafari,” he said in an interview. “Herb is a plant. Herb is good for everything. Herb is a thing that gives you a little time for yourself so you can live.”



Bob Marley and the Wailers were once booted off a major tour.



Bob Marley and the Wailers were reportedly dropped as the opening act on Sly & the Family Stone’s U.S. tour in 1972, for allegedly upstaging them. However, Sly Stone contends that Marley’s group was fired from the performance trek because they weren’t connecting with the audience.



His video featured supermodel Naomi Campbell.



In the music video for Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love,’ a seven-year-old Naomi Campbell is among the children dancing at a kid’s birthday party.



There’s a hip-hop connection between Bob Marley and the Fugees.



Bob Marley’s classic song ‘No Woman, No Cry‘ was covered by the Fugees in 1996. Fugees member Lauryn Hill would later rework Marley’s ‘Turn Your Lights Down Low‘ on ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ and later marry and divorce Rohan, the son of Bob Marley.



He was baptized as a Christian and changed his name.



Days before his death in 1981, Bob Marley was baptized at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston, Jamaica, converting to a Christian Rastafarian and adopting the new name Berhane Selassie.



The reggae icon still sells records.



Bob Marley’s greatest hits album, ‘Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers,’ holds the record as the biggest-selling reggae album to date, with 10 million copies sold in the U.S. and approximately 25 million worldwide. According to Forbes, his estate earned $17 million in 2012, through record sales and merchandising.



He prophesied his own death.



According to Marley’s mother, Cedella, Bob was considered a God-like prophet among his friends and family. So much so, that the reggae legend even prophesied that he would die at the age of 36.
“[A family friend]… told me after Bob died, that Bob [previously] told him that ‘When I’m 36 I’m going die,” Cedella recalls in an interview. “He said, ‘How could you say something like that, you have life going for [yourself]?’ Bob replied, ‘When Jesus was on earth, he lived until he was 36.'”



There is an official day named after him.



Officials in Toronto, Canada proclaimed Feb. 6, 2013, as Bob Marley Day. “As a world ambassador of reggae music, Bob Marley was seen as the first international superstar to emerge from the developing world. The commanding and unique sound of his music captivated people of all cultures, broke music barriers and helped to introduce reggae music to the world. To this day, his music continues to be loved by many and is instantly recognized around the world,” Mayor Rob Ford states.


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