By the 1970s, Bob Marley's energetic reggae melodies, hypnotic rhythms, and lyrics that ranged from love to politics to his Rastafarian faith, were recognized locally as The Wailers repeatedly appeared on the Jamaican song charts. However, it wasn't until they released the song "Trench Town Rock" in 1971 that the demand for their studio and live appearances began to soar. The popularity of this song propelled it to the top of the Jamaican Music Charts for five months. With hits like "Concrete Jungle" and "Get Up, Stand Up," it was not long before The Wailers' reggae sound began to gain international recognition. During the early 1970s, The Wailers were successfully gaining the respect of the music industry and appeared with artists Sly and the Family Stone and Marvin Gaye. However, in 1974, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left the band to start solo careers. As a result, Bob Marley became a solo artist. His hit “No Woman, No Cry” made both England’s and Jamaica’s music charts. With the release of his album Rastaman Vibration in 1976, he also made the U.S. charts which resulted in an increase of his U.S. popularity.
Photo Attribution: streetpreacher83
However, the success that Marley was incurring would also endanger his life. In December of 1976, while he was rehearsing for an upcoming concert, four gunmen barged into Marley’s home and began shooting. Several people were injured during the shooting, including Marley and his wife Rita. There are many theories about who the gunmen were, but none have ever been substantiated. After this scare, Marley continued to write and record hits like “Jamming,” “Three Little Birds,” and “One Love.”
Photo Attribution: r9M
By 1977, Marley was no longer able to ignore a soccer injury to his right big toe. Upon consultation with a foot specialist, it was determined that he had a malignant form of melanoma cancer. Because of his Rasta beliefs, Marley refused to have his toe amputated and instead opted to have the toenail and surrounding cancerous flesh removed. During these years, Marley continued to perform and record hits like “Africa Unite” and “Redemption Song.” However, on September 23, 1980, Bob Marley and The Wailers would play their final show as Marley discovered that the cancer had spread to his brain, stomach, and lungs. Shortly after this, on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley died in Miami, Florida, surrounded by his mother (Cedella), his wife (Rita), and his family. He leaves behind a legacy of music that will continue to touch future generations.
This guide was created by Mary Rodriguez-Noble, a MLIS student from Kent State University. The guide was completed as part of her practicum hours.