For a very long time, I have been trying to write on my favourite musician, the late Reggae Superstar, Robert ‘Bob’ Marley. Marley’s music was the first English music I had ever liked while growing up and he is still my favourite. This is because of its philosophical lyrics, its meaningful message and its unique style. On May 11, the 37th Anniversary of his death was marked all over the world, I hereby reproduce an article below published under the title: Bob Marley’s rhythm echoes 30 years on, to mark the occasion. Happy reading
Today marks 37 years since the death of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one whose impact endures across generations of music fans around the world. From humble beginnings in the small hamlet of Nine Miles, St Ann, Jamaica, to the slums of Trenchtown in Kingston where he started his music in the 1960s, Bob Marley rose to become one of the most revered artists of all time.
He put reggae music and Jamaican culture on the global map and at the height of his fame in the late 1970s had enriched the original roots rhythms with elements of other genres, notably rock and soul. Almost four decades after his death, Marley remains a symbol of justice, spiritual, political and economic emancipation. The lyrics of timeless protest songs like “Redemption Song” “War” “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Crazy Baldhead” have fired up social and political movements through the years and given voice to the disenfranchised around the world.
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Music was serious business, not pleasure, according to Marley. He once told Rolling Stone magazine: “You entertain people who are satisfied. Hungry people can’t be entertained —or people who are afraid. You can’t entertain a man who has no food.” September 1980 was the last time Marley stepped on stage with his band The Wailers to perform a show at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of the “Uprising” tour. Doctors confirmed he had terminal cancer and he passed away at just 36 years old on 11 May 1981.
Popularity And Success
The influence of the charismatic Jamaican has transcended generations and grown beyond music into a multi-million dollar empire. According to Forbes magazine the Marley brand raked in $23 million in earnings in 2017 making Bob Marley the fifth top-earning dead celebrity. The family trademark ranges from the organic Marley Coffee to herb-related products Marley Natural, and electronics brand, The House of Marley. The latter crafts audio products like headphones, turntables and speakers, from sustainable materials including cotton and canvas textiles, recycled plastics and metals. The brand’s image resonates with Bob Marley’s message of environmental consciousness.
Despite the successful consumer merchandising, music remains the cornerstone of the Marley legacy. His Tuff Gong Studios and record manufacturing plant opened in 1970 was the first such enterprise set up by a Jamaican artist and the recording facility still attracts some of the world’s biggest artists. The popularity of Marley’s songs endures and his records still sell in the millions across different formats. His best-known album “Legend”, a compilation of his greatest hits, released three years after his death, has now sold almost 30 million copies.
According to Nielsen Music that tracks music sales and online streams around the world, the Marley album catalogue has scanned about 28 million copies while his songs have been downloaded 14.8 million times and streamed 1.68 billion times. During his lifetime, Bob Marley was never recognised with a Grammy nomination but in 2001 he was honoured with The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Many of today’s artists draw inspiration from the music of Bob Marley and just last week, one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Rihanna announced that her next project is a reggae album, inspired by her favourite artist of all time, Bob Marley. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and Time Magazine selected Marley’s “Exodus” as Album of the 20th Century.
The Marley name itself has also lived on to the third generation of artists from the family, some of whom are Grammy winners in their own right. One of the most successful of the children, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, who performed in Nairobi last year, has introduced the heritage of his father’s music to a new generation with a fusion of contemporary dancehall and hip-hop, combined with Roots Rock Reggae. The newest star of the family is Skip Marley, who was born 15 years after his grandfather’s death, and had a massive pop hit in 2017 with the single “Chained to the Rhythm” alongside Katy Perry. Marley’s life and music has been the subject of many books, films and documentaries including the 2012 release “Marley” directed by renowned Hollywood director Kevin McDonald.
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