The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Marley changes scope of music

By Sarah McVean/photo editor

Having a social force with universal appeal, Bob Marley carried music to another level.

“No one in rock and roll has left a musical legacy that matters more or one that matters in such a fundamental way,” Robert Palmer said in a tribute to Marley for his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Marley’s songs of determination, rebellion and faith have reached global audiences, and his fan base is still growing.

Born in 1945 in Jamaica, he was influenced by Ray Charles, the Drifters, Fats Domino and Curtis Mayfield. In 1963 he helped form The Wailing Wailers, a vocal quintet with Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston, Junior Braithwaite and Beverly Kelso.

Practicing Rastas, which Marley was very vocal about through his life, the group grew dreadlocks and smoked ganja, believing it a sacred herb that brought enlightenment.

“Simmer Down,” their first single, was one of the biggest hits in Jamaica in 1964.

“I love the development of our music; that’s what I really dig about the whole thing. It grows,” he said. “That’s why every day people come forward with new songs. Music goes on forever.”

Jamaican producer Lee Perry brought about the Wailers’ most memorable albums, Soul Rebel and Soul Revolution.

The Wailers were popular in Jamaica but did not reach an international audience until the early 1970s when they released Catch a Fire (1972) and Burnin’ (1973) with Island Records.

Tosh and Livingston left the Wailers in 1973, making Marley lead singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist. Backed by a first-rate band and the vocal trio I-Three, which included his wife Rita, Marley put out six more albums as Bob Marley and the Wailers.

“He rivals the government as a political force,” Time magazine said in 1976.

That December he scheduled a free Jamaica Smile concert aimed at reducing tensions between two political parties. Two days before the event, a gunman attacked Marley and his entourage. But Marley and Rita electrified more than 80,000 people when they took the stage with the Wailers on schedule.

This gesture heightened his truth of love and peace and also his legend. In 1977, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1981 at 36.

“The reservoir of music he has left behind is like an encyclopedia,” Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes said. “When you need to refer to a certain situation or crisis, there will always be a Bob Marley song that will relate to it. Bob was a musical prophet.”

Legend, a “best of” from his Island Record years (’72-‘81), has sold more than 10 millions copies in the U.S. alone. This album remains the best-selling Jamaican artist and best-selling reggae album in history.

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