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The Bob Marley legacy 30 years later

By Alexander Baron     Oct 27, 2011 in Entertainment
London - Bob Marley died more than 30 years ago, but his legacy is very much alive. Two of his sons are currently in the UK , and recently they appeared on the BBC's 'Breakfast' news programme.
Reggae is universally appealing and even people who have no great affinity for it tend to like at least a couple of Bob Marley tracks. One Love is arguably his best known and best loved composition. Of the half dozen plus English language songs of that title, his is inarguably the best. You can read some of the background to some of Marley's songs here by courtesy of the man from SongFacts, and of course, there are websites devoted entirely to the man and his music, including the Official Bob Marley site.
Robert Nesta Marley was born in Jamaica on February 6, 1945, the son of a white Royal Marines captain and a much younger native, Cedella Booker. Marley's father died when he was ten years old, and he might have been condemned to a life of poverty in one of the Western hemisphere's least prosperous townships, or at best to that of an artisan; on leaving school he started work in a welding shop, but he got lucky, and made the most of his luck.
Marley's interest in music led him to audition for a local music entrepreneur, who was impressed with the young vocalist. Although Marley is known as a singer, he was not that great as either a singer or musician, his real strength was as a songwriter. Judge Not, the first song he ever recorded - as Robert Marley - he wrote himself. It would be difficult to say what is his finest song, but Redemption Song must be a contender. The video for the aforementioned One Love features among others a somewhat youthful Paul McCartney. Marley was a follower of Marcus Garvey, one of the truly great Negro intellectuals of the late 19th/early 20th Centuries, and someone who like Major Douglas has been largely written out of history, albeit for different reasons.
He was also an adherent of the Rastafari religion, but in spite of this, many of his songs have a universal quality to them.
Marley had a strong connection with London, having spent the late 1960s early 1970s here; he lived in Camden Town, where Amy Winehouse lived - and died thirty years later, and thirty years after his premature death from cancer aged only 36. Less than 5 years later, Phil Lynott died also aged 36, although his death was from suicide by proxy rather than illness.
In 1966, Marley married a fellow Jamaican, the Cuban-born Rita Anderson, and sired no less than eleven children, including Julian, who was born in London, and who appeared on the Breakfast programme this morning along with his brother Rohan where they explained the goals of the Bob Marley One Love Movement. The House Of Marley is the commercial side of the movement, a combination of music, technology, and eco-friendliness; while in Britain the brothers are linking up with other charities to spread their father's gospel.
During a time of war and violent revolution, this is a philosophy that is at least worth a shot. Good music never killed anyone, and even bad music can inspire people to play better.
In 1994, Marley was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Okay, reggae ain't rock 'n' roll, but since the 1950s the boundaries of music have become increasingly fuzzy. Rock 'n' roll owes its development largely to Bill Haley - a one-time yodelling cowboy, a white man who played black music, and Chuck Berry, a black man who played white music. The 1960s saw the Beatles experimenting in modes, Deep Purple combining heavy metal with classical, Fela Kuti and Afrobeat; later we saw experimental and new electronic music from the likes of Gary Numan and Jean Michel Jarre.
We probably won't know for at least another hundred years where the music of Bob Marley belongs in the hierarchy of contemporary music, if there is such a thing as hierarchy anymore, but there can be little double that just as his music is still being played thirty years after his death, so it will still be played one hundred and thirty years after his death. Assuming of course, we haven't heeded Marley's message of One Love, and destroy the world in the meantime.
More about bob marley, Reggae, Music, robert nesta marley, marcus garvey
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