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Bob Marley & The Wailers

Bob Marley & The Wailers bio, timeline, discography, pics & more

Bob Marley

Bob Marley photo 1980

Bob Marley & The Wailers Biography

Robert Nesta Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in a small village called Nine Miles in the parish of St. Ann, JAMAICA; his mother was an eighteen-year-old black girl called Cedella Booker while his father was Captain Norval Marley, a 50-year-old white quartermaster attached to the British West Indian Regiment. When Bob Marley was barely into his teens, he moved to Kingston where he began his astonishing music career.
In 1962 Marley linked up with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston --a.k.a. Bunny Wailer-- to form the Ska Reggae trio The Wailing Wailers and two years later the group scored their first Jamaican #1 hit single with "Simmer Down"; they disbanded in 1966 and before Marley moved to Delaware in the U.S. he married a young girl called Rita Anderson; that October Marley, after eight months in America, returned to Jamaica, he joined up with Livingston and Tosh to re-form the group, now known as The Wailers.

In 1970 bass player Aston 'Family Man' Barrett and his brother, drummer Carlton Barrett, joined The Wailers and the band issued its first album credited to Bob Marley & The Wailers, "Soul Rebels", it was also the band's first full-length collaboration with producer Lee Perry, for whom they had already recorded a string of fairly successful singles; a year later Marley signed to the revolutionary Island Records, by the spring of 1972 the entire Wailers were in London, ostensibly promoting their CBS debut single "Reggae On Broadway".
"Catch A Fire" appeared on the major label Island in spring 1973, although this album was not an immediate hit, it made a considerable impact on the media and began the process of spreading of Reggae outside Jamaica. That year the group also released their second album, "Burnin'", an LP that included new versions of some of the band's older songs such as "Duppy Conquerer" "Small Axe" and "Put In On", together with tracks like "Get Up, Stand Up" and "I Shot The Sheriff", the latter made famous by Eric Clapton.
After Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left to pursue their own solo careers, Marley spent the better part of 1974 in the studio working on the sessions that eventually provided "Natty Dread"; to fill the harmonic void, the I-Three's, consisting of his wife Rita Marley and singers Marcia Griffith and Judy Mowatt, were recruited. The following year the record cracked the top 100 of the U.S. Pop Albums chart and the band went out on the road to promote the release with an international tour, among the concerts were two summer shows at the Lyceum Ballroom in London which, even now, are remembered as highlights of the decade.
The shows were recorded and the subsequent concert album, "Live!", together with the single "No Woman No Cry", both made the U.K. charts.
In spring 1976 was released "Rastaman Vibration", it became the band's breakthrough LP in the U.S. peaking at #8 on the Pop Albums chart and the track "Roots, Rock, Reggae" was their first Pop Singles chart entry at #51.
In December of the same year Marley was forced to leave Jamaica due to an assassination attempt which left him wounded.
The group relocated to London where they recorded their next album, "Exodus"; released in June 1977, this album established Bob Marley & The Wailers as one of the worldwide most interesting and original bands; it peaked at #20 on the U.S. Pop Albums list and remained on the U.K. charts for 56 straight weeks spawning three sizable hit singles: "Jammin'", "Waiting In Vain", "One Love / People Get Ready" and the title-track. In 1998 Time magazine named "Exodus" the best album of the 20th century.
The band released "Kaya" in early 1978, it debuted at #4 on the British Albums chart backed by two hit singles, "Satisfy My Soul" and "Is This Love"; "Kaya", synonymous with marijuana in Rastafarian culture, was a moderate success in the U.S. reaching the top 50 of the Pop Albums chart.
"Survival", Bob Marley's ninth album for Island Records, was released in the summer of 1979, it didn't rise higher than #70 on the U.S. Top 200 LPs & Tapes chart and was essentially an album of pan-African solidarity.
The band's next effort, "Uprising", which arrived in May 1980, hit every chart in Europe and its lead single, "Could You Be Loved", was a massive worldwide smash; Bob Marley & The Wailers embarked on a major European tour, breaking festival records throughout the continent; the schedule included a 100,000-capacity crowd in Milan, the biggest show in the band's history.

At the end of the European tour the grop went to America, Marley played two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York but, immediately afterwards, was taken seriously ill. Three years earlier, in London, the singer hurt a toe while playing football, the wound had become cancerous and was belatedly treated in Miami, yet it continued to fester. By 1980 the cancer, in its most virulent form, had begun to spread through Marley's body. He fought the disease for eight months, taking treatment in Germany. At the start of May, Bob Marley left Europe for his Jamaican home, a journey he did not complete. He died in a Miami hospital on Monday May 11, 1981, at age 36. Bob Marley is buried in a crypt at Nine Miles, near his birthplace, with his Gibson guitar; his early death brought him nearly mythic status in music history.

"Confrontation", a posthumous collection produced by Rita Marley, was released in May 1983, two years after Bob Marley's death, it featured unreleased material and singles recorded during his lifetime including the well-known song "Buffalo Soldier". But it was the following year that the best-selling greatest hits compilation, apltly titled "Legend", conquered the world with its anti-violence message to the people; the set has spent an unsurpassed 64 weeks and counting cumulative weeks atop Billboard's Top Pop Catalogue Albums chart.
A tons of compilations were released over the years, "Songs Of Freedom", originally issued as a limited-edition box set in October 1992 by Tuff Gong/Island reached the #86 on The Billboard 200, it spanned Marley's entire career from his first song, "Judge Not" recorded in 1962, to a live version of "Redemption Song", recorded in 1980 in Pittsburgh, his last concert; the 4-CD set featured rare, hit, re-mixed and a handful of unreleased tracks including "Iron Lion Zion", which peaked at #11 on The Modern Rock chart and shot to #5 on the British chart.

"Africa Unite: The Singles Collection" celebrates Bob Marley's 60th Birthday with his first greatest hits package to include not only his early sides and his Island Records hits but also a new recording and two new remixes; along with 17 vintage tracks, the set, released in November 2005, spotlights "Slogans" which features Eric Clapton on guitar and is the first new official Marley track released in more than a decade.


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Bob Marley & The Wailers pictures:

  • Bob Marley and The Wailers Bob Marley and The Wailers
    Bob Marley & The Wailers - early years