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Remembering Bob Marley, the king of reggae

On reggae music legend Bob Marley's 34th death anniversary, we look back at some interesting facts about the singer's life and work...

Bob Marley was actually named Nesta Robert Marley but a Jamaican passport official would later reverse his first and middle names. As a young boy, Bob Marley learnt to play the guitar from popular reggae musician Joe Higgs, who also helped Marley and his friends, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso and Junior Braithwaite, who would later go on to form a successful band their vocal harmonies.

Bob Marley was an avid football fan growing up and followed the Brazilian club Santos and its star player Pelé. He even made Jamaican international footballer Allan “Skill” Cole his tour manager in the 1970s.

After his band the Wailers disbanded in 1974, Bob Marley embarked on a solo career in 1977. His first solo album, 'Exodus' established his worldwide reputation and produced his status as one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, with sales of more than 75 million records. Bob Marley's life has been the subject of several documentaries. The first of which titled, 'Rebel Music' won various awards at the Grammys and contained contributions from Marley's wife Rita, The Wailers, and Marley's lovers and children. Another documentary, 'Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend' made by his ex-girlfriend and filmmaker Esther Anderson along with Gian Godoy was released in 2011. A third feature, 'Marley' directed by Kevin Macdonald was released on 2012.

A statue of Bob Marley stands next to the national stadium on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston, Jamaica to commemorate the legend.

After being diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe, a harmful cancer, Bob Marley was advised by the doctor to get his toe amputated but the singer refused citing his religious beliefs. Instead the nail and nail bed were removed and a skin graft taken from his thigh to cover the area. Bob Marley continued touring the world despite his illness. His band completed a major tour of Europe after the release of his album 'Uprising' in 1980, where it played its biggest concert to 100,000 people in Milan. Marley then toured America, where he performed two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of the Uprising Tour and appeared at the Stanley Theater (now called The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 23 September 1980, which would be his last concert.

Bob Marley had a number of children: three with his wife Rita, two adopted from her previous relationships, and several others with different women. His official website acknowledges 11 children. Bob Marley was an ardent follower of the Rastafari movement religion, whose culture was a key element in the development of reggae. He was instrumental in taking their music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene.

Inspired by Jamaican political leader Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley was a Pan-Africanist, and believed in the unity of African people worldwide and had anti-imperialist and pro-African themes in many of his songs, such as 'Zimbabwe', 'Exodus', 'Survival', 'Blackman Redemption', and 'Redemption Song'. In 1978, Bob Marley performed at the One Love Peace Concert, again in an effort to calm warring parties. Near the end of the performance, Michael Manley (leader of then-ruling People's National Party) and his political rival Edward Seaga (leader of the opposing Jamaica Labour Party), joined each other on stage and shook hands as per Marley's request. Apparently, Bob Marley's final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can't buy life."


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