Remembering a Legend: The 30th Anniversary of Bob Marley’s Death

Today (May 11th) marks the 30th year anniversary since the passing of international reggae legend Bob Marley. Raised in Trenchtown, Kingston; Nesta Robert Marley became famous as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of reggae band ‘Bob Marley and The Wailers’. Bob Marley has proved hugely influential in helping the Jamaican music scene advance to the mainstream airwaves. Regarded as the most successful reggae artist of all time, Marley is renowned for promoting this genre of music and the Rastafarian movement to a world wide audience. Inspired by both African and Jamaican culture, Bob Marley’s music is heavily themed with issues relating to oppression, politics, and unity. Some of his best known hits include ‘Redemption Song’, ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, ‘No Woman No Cry‘, ‘Is This Love’, ‘Could You Be Loved’, ‘Iron Man Zion’ and ‘Buffallo Soldier’.

Between 1973 and the year of his death, Bob Marley released 11 albums with the group ‘Bob Marley and the Wailers’. Released in 1979, the ‘Exodus‘ LP solidified the bands international stardom. Bob Marley wrote much of the material for this album while recuperating in England from an assassination attempt on his life. With international hits that include ‘Jamming’, ‘One Love/People Get Ready’, and ‘Three Little Birds‘; the album spent 56 weeks in the British charts, and was subsequently named as the best album of the 20th century by TIME magazine. A compilation album entitled ‘Legend’ was released in 1984, three years after the icons death. To date, it is the best selling reggae album of all time, boasting 25 million sales world wide.

In 1980, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed for thousands in Dublin’s Dalymount Park. The band also played to for a crowd of 100,000 people in Rome amongst many other European shows. Their final tour attracted the largest audience at that time for any musical act in Europe. Following this, the band flew to the USA, however their American tour was cut short as Bob Marley’s health seriously deteriorated. In 1981, Bob Marley unfortunately passed away at the age of 36 after a four year battle with cancer. Marley’s music legacy is continued by his wife Rita, and several of his children such as Ziggy, Damian (Jr. Gong), Stephen, Ky-Mani and Julian who have all successfully embarked on musical careers. Many of Marley’s classic tracks have been remixed within the hip-hop genre, including a posthumous remix of ‘Hold Ya Head Up’ featuring late hiphop icon Notorious B.I.G, and the remake of ‘Turn the Lights Down Low’ by Lauryn Hill.

Many commemoration nights and concerts are due to be held across the world to mark the occasion. In America this week, the popular ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ show will honour the legacy of Bob Marley with a 5 night tribute special. According to BET, Marley’s eldest son Ziggy and other stars including Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz and Jennifer Hudson will each perform one of the stars classic hits, backed by Jimmy’s in house hip-hop group The Roots.

In Wembley this summer, The ‘One Love Peace Festival’ will also pay homage to the reggae superstar. In a bid to promote the reduction of gun and knife crime, the upcoming event was inspired by the historical ‘One Love Peace Concert’, head-lined by Bob Marley in Jamaica, 1979, to bring peace to warring factions in the Kingston area. On July 31st, Ky-Mani Marley will be joined by stars including Busta Rhymes, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Gyptian and Skepta to mark the 30th anniversary of his fathers passing. Speaking about the upcoming event, Ky-Mani said: “I feel blessed to be part of The One Love Peace Festival. It is with great pride that I will pay homage to my father, Bob Marley, with some of his best-loved songs. The festival’s message of peace is a noble cause that I hold very dear to my heart and one that my father would have applauded.” (One Love Peace Festival Website)

Even 30 years later, the reggae icon continues to influence both music and culture through his timeless collection. An inspiration to many- the legend of Bob Marley certainly lives on…


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