|BOB MARLEY - BIOGRAPHY||
Born of a middle-age white father and a teenage Black mother, Robert Nesta Marley transcended the humility of his rural beginnings to become not only a million-selling artist and stadium-filling entertainer but -- more importantly -- a nearly religious figure whose pleas for brotherhood and justice achieved universal anthemic status.
He began singing professionally at 16 with his self-penned "Judge Not!" It and its follow-up were not successful, and he returned to his ghetto neighborhood of Trenchtown to be tutored by Joe Higgs, a recording artist who coached promising youngsters like Marley, Bunny Livingstone, and Peter Tosh (who would become The Wailers). Signed in 1963 to Coxsone Dodd's influential, pace-setting Studio One, The Wailers saw their first release, "Simmer Down, " become an instant #1. During the next two-and-a-half years, the group recorded over a hundred songs, and at one point in 1965 held five of the top ten slots on the Jamaican charts.
Forming their own label, Wail 'n Soul 'm, in 1966, The Wailers continued a series of local hits, with little financial remuneration. Following an album with Leslie Kong (Best of the Wailers), they hooked up with the seminal oddball producer, Lee Perry, and produced an amazing series of singles that are collected under a variety of names and remain their finest hour.
In 1972, Island Records prez Chris Blackwell signed The Wailers, but after two albums the group broke up, leaving Marley at the head of the band, to which he added a female backing trio, The I Threes. By 1975, Marley had gone clear as a revolutionary standard bearer, the inheritor of the 60s activist energy and hippie ganja enlightenment. Almost assassinated in 1976 in Kingston, Marley was given the UN Peace Medal on behalf of 500 million Africans in 1978 for his humanitarian achievements. He headlined a Peace Concert that same year in Jamaica, uniting the warring factions in the Kingston slums. But his greatest honor came when he was invited to headline the Zimbabwe Independence Celebrations in 1980. He outdrew the Pope in Milan, fathered eleven children by seven women, sold tens of millions of records worldwide, left a $30 million estate, wrote "the new Psalms, " and died at 36 of melanoma.