Marlon James’ New Book Explores the Attempted Assassination of Bob Marley

 

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From the Fader Magazine: ISSUE 93, on stands now:

Ever since his 2005 debut, John Crow’s Devil, Minneapolis-based author and Macalester College professor Marlon James has used his novels to delve into the history of his native Jamaica. His past books focused on slavery and religion, but his new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, tackles a moment that’s usually only discussed in whispers: the 1976 attempt on Bob Marley’s life. That foiled plot—carried out by several poor, young Jamaicans about whom little is known—remains shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories. James’ book shifts the focus away from Marley himself and, as such, does little to offer a definitive account of the affair. Instead, it uses the story’s question marks and convolutions as a means of exploring an equally complex time in the history of Jamaica, marked by Cold War politics abroad and growing tension between the conservative Jamaican Labour and the socialist People’s National Party. The author utilizes dozens of narrators, including a Rolling Stone writer, a CIA agent and a host of Jamaicans who speak in varying strains of dialect. Over the phone, James discussed the roots of the novel, his fascination with this vibrant and turbulent era and the world-wide success of the country’s most famous cultural export.

 

Where did you get the idea to tell the story of the Bob Marley attempted assassination?

I’ve been interested in this story since around 1991, when I read an issue of SPIN magazine with Jane’s Addiction on the cover. There was this article by Timothy White, who wrote the Bob Marley biography Catch a Fire. He wrote an update where he went further into the one incident in Marley’s life that no one wants to talk about, which is when these men tried to kill him. One of them went on to be a major player in the ’80s crack trade, and another was assassinated with a bullet to the head in East Germany. Those two were really striking to me. I’ve always been interested in who these men were and what happened to them.

Why did you use so many different perspectives to tell the story?

I couldn’t figure out whose story it was. It couldn’t be just these killers, because some of these guys were barely 15. There was brutal poverty and boredom, then they tried to kill somebody and they disappeared. I soon began to realize it was everybody’s story. The more I looked into it, the less interesting Marley himself became to me. He’s just called “The Singer.” That’s why the novel became so long, because I started to think about the whole world around the incident. You should write until you fall for your characters, even the villains, and I eventually fell for all of them. The risk was that it could end up being scattered, but I think it’s just highly populated.

What was the state of Jamaica at that time?

You grew up in a political culture—in the ’70s, in particular, because there was so much propaganda and the Cold War. My grandmother’s wall had a picture of [former Jamaican Prime Minister] Michael Manley, but no pictures of us! At the same time, the ’70s were so culturally vibrant. Education was free, so there was suddenly a middle class. It says something that it was such a violent and crazy time and that everyone was recording here. The Rolling Stones did Goats Head Soup, and pretty much every version of “Start Me Up” was recorded in Kingston. The cultural exchange that was going on was just incredible.

Where did Marley fit in the cultural landscape?

My grandfather’s generation was the first to really be inspired by the Black Power and Black Arts movement. People forget that these movements really disliked Marley. He was half-white and he came across as this unintellectual, unwashed ragamuffin who suddenly became the voice of black struggle. Everybody has a revisionist history of this now, but Marley’s death was the first time many people in Jamaica heard him on the radio. Still, reggae used the voice of the people to talk about serious issues. The idea of me writing a novel in dialect would have never happened in 1962. It barely happened in 2005. The idea that this voice could be used to speak about injustice, trauma and freedom is a concept that the ’70s gave us.

 

By: Colin Joyce

Article Link: TheFader.com

Bob Marley Inspired Ben & Jerry’s Flavored Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s, the makers of the most creative ice cream flavors, has done it again! “Satisfy My Bowl” is the company’s newest flavor, inspired by the legend Bob Marley. Banana ice cream with caramel, cookie swirls and chocolatey peace signs fill all of your dairy desires. Unfortunately, is it not available in the United States and will be released in Europe this October. Lucky them. Make sure to sign the petition to bring this flavor to North America in 2015! 

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We’re celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Bob Marley’s Legend album with this tasty tribute, supporting Bob’s vision for a fairer world. In partnership with the 1Love Foundation, this flavour will help to fund a youth empowerment programme in Jamaica. Music to your ears AND your taste buds! What makes this all the sweeter is that the inspired (ahem, LEGEND-ary) flavour name comes courtesy of Camilla Bishop – thanks Camilla, you’re a legend! Peace, 1love & Ice Cream, from Ben & Jerry’s” – (benjerry.co.uk). 

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The Story Under the Lid 

“Bob Marley stood for more than just music – he inspired millions to think about peace, love, and world equality…and, like us, he stood up for serious matters, but in a fun and uplifting way! Our co-founder, Jerry, always said “If it’s not fun, why do it?”, and we’ve continued to work with that ethos in mind.

We were honoured to be approached by Bob Marley’s 1Love Foundation to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s “Legend” album, and what sweeter way to honour this than with a special edition Ben & Jerry’s tribute flavour!

Whilst busying ourselves in the kitchen, creating a taste-sensation worthy of this honour, we asked fans to suggest a ‘Legend’-ary name for it. The first person to come up with the winning name was rewarded with entry to our flavour hall of fame and, when the new flavour hits the freezers in Autumn 2014, the winner and their flavour name will appear on every Legend-ary tub. The lucky winner also gets to dig into their prize of a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

You know what makes this partnership even more euphoric? Proceeds from this flavour will fund a youth empowerment programme in Jamaica (run by 1Love Foundation), which uses music and creativity as a tool to better the lives of Jamaican youth, and supports Bob’s vision for a fairer world! We think that’s pretty cool…

We’ve also had the honour of sponsoring a video for the Bob Marley track “One Love”, which will be sourced from Tongal, a video production crowd-sourcing platform. Keep your eyes (& ears) peeled; the video will be launched in September 2014!” – (benjerry.co.uk)

Click on the photo below to sign the petition to bring “Satisfy My Bowl” to North America in 2015!

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Nine Mile: The City Where Bob Marley Was Born

Where Was Bob Marley Born

While many fans believe he was a native of Kingston, Jamaica, the city where Bob Marley was born is actually Nine Mile in the parish of Saint Ann. Found in the northern part of the small island, Nine Mile is a completely rural part of the country, especially when compared to the vacation-friendly capital of Kingston.

In his teenage years, the infamous singer would move to the Trenchtown part of Kingston, where he would live out the majority of his life. Yet, after passing in 1981, Bob Marley’s body was brought back to the city where he was born and laid to rest near his brother. In tribute to the city’s fallen son, Nine Mile residents have erected shrines to Bob and the Marley family around his childhood home.

Whatever you’ve heard or known about Jamaica is completely erased once you’re in the sacred land of Nine Mile. There is something heavy in the air that alerts you to the spiritual weight of this town. Something special in the soil, which not only gives the region its fair share of bananas and coffee beans, but it is the land that gave the world Bob Marley. If you’ve never been, pack a pair of on-ear headphones, immerse yourself in the music of Marley and check out these three significant spots in Nine Mile.

The Marley Homestead

citywherebobmarleywasbornThe tiny Marley home in Nine Mile, the city where Bob Marley was born, is no bigger than 300 square feet. With two rooms, one acting as a bedroom and the other for family gatherings, the house is quaint, but offers a homey feeling. Outside of the home, you’ll see the kitchen, which features an open fire pit made of rocks, and find the entire property painted in the
traditional Ethiopian colors of
green, yellow and red.

The Marley Mausoleum

citywherebobmarleywasborn2Following the wishes of his mother Cedella Booker Marley, Bob was laid to rest in a mausoleum on the Marley family property next to his brother. Buried in 1981, Marley was placed in a casket with his beloved Gibson Les Paul and a bible opened to Psalm 23 in this unique Ethiopian themed church. The journey to the Marley mausoleum is a special one as the grounds are the same place where he was born and lived out his youth. It provides a spiritual experience that can hardly be replicated anywhere else in Jamaica.

citywherebobmarleywasbornThe Rasta Rock Pillow

In front of the mausoleum in which Bob Marley is buried, there is a famed rock that is said to have been a spot of inspiration for the late singer. Vaguely resembling a flat pillow, locals say that Marley would lay his head on the stone, an act which the songwriter later recounted in his song “Talkin’ Blues” from the Natty Dread album.

Legend: Remixed Documentary Debuts At El Rey Theatre

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The House of Marley was out in force at the debut of the Making of Bob Marley Legend: Remixed. The documentary, which showcases modern musicians and producers remixing classic Bob Marley tracks, premiered at the beautiful El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, California to a huge crowd.

The party went off before the movie even started with hype DJ sets from Beat Antique and Photek. Some of the crew taking in the sights and sounds of the House of Marley, 1Love and Tuff Gong party included Ziggy Marley, Team Marley member skate ambassador Karl Watson, The Heavy, Jim James and Legend: Remixed producer Jason Bentley.

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While introducing the film, Jason Bentley talked about the process that he went through in assembling the artists to create this tribute to Bob Marley. With the idea of modernizing the revolutionary message of Marley’s music, the main concept focused on bringing a new appeal to music with a peaceful message.

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The party may be over, but the new legacy of the Legend: Remixed album has just begun. The documentary is now available online for free (Check out the bonus section of this blog!), and to celebrate we are offering you a chance to win a copy of the Legend: Remixed album and a pair of our earth-friendly headphones. Head over to the House of Marley Facebook contest page, sign up and you’ll be automatically entered to be one of 25 winners.

Bonus: As we mentioned above, the Making of Bob Marley Legend: Remixed is now available online. Watch the full documentary below and learn more about all of the work that went into remixing the classic greatest hits album, Legend.

The Evolution of Bob Marley’s Guitars

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While he was never known for his intense fret work, Bob Marley’s guitar playing still has become renowned the world over. Allowing his lyrics to do the majority of the talking, his guitar sound could become hushed or overpowering in an instant, depending on what the moment called for. This focus on song and emotional feel is what has always made Bob’s music so memorable.

Even during the excessive 1970s, when guitarists used gigantic amp rigs and traded off guitars between every song in a set, Bob stuck to using the same few that he had always used. It’s hard to imagine not seeing a picture of Bob performing live, dreads swinging away and Gibson Les Paul Special in hand. Yet, there it was. Always wrapped up in his arms. Every performance. While some remain in the possession of the Marley family and others have been sold at auction, Bob Marley’s guitars still remain just as iconic as he does. Check out the evolution of Bob’s guitar lineup and you’ll see how his influence has lasted from the 1970s to the present:

Fender Stratocaster

Regarded as many guitarist’s favorite model, the Fender Stratocaster played by Bob Marley is known for its sharp, clean sound. This makes it perfect for playing the slinky reggae of Bob’s earlier records. Here below on a performance of “Stir It Up” from the Old Grey Whistle Test, Bob plays his brown sunburst Fender strat and shows off its trademark sound.

Ovation Adamas

Used during his 1980 tour, Bob Marley’s Ovation Adamas guitar made an impact on his son, Julian, who still uses the same model of guitar today. While the newer models of Ovation Adamas still have the signature sound holes near the top of the guitar’s body, the inside of these beauties have been changed to create a lighter body. Click below to watch Bob Marley play “Redemption Song” on his infamous acoustic in Dortmund, Germany.

Washburn 22 Series Hawk

Of the seven guitars Bob Marley is said to have owned, it’s nearly impossible to find a picture of the singer playing his Washburn 22 series Hawk. Given as a gift from Bob Marley to his former guitar tech, Gary Clausen, the guitar was shrouded in secrecy since leaving its original owner’s hands. Said to be in the possession of the Jamaican government, it’s still considered one of the most valuable guitars in the world at $1 to 2 million dollars.

Gibson Les Paul Special

Perhaps the most well known of all Bob Marley’s guitars, the Les Paul Special holds a special significance for fans who saw him perform live with it. Customizing it with some of his own retro-fitting, Bob took off a few pieces of the guitar’s hardware and filled in some holes with wooden dowels. When Gibson recreated the classic guitar in 2002, they followed Bob’s handmade specs when building the limited edition run of 200 instruments. In the live performance of “Satisfy My Soul” below, Marley uses his classic Gibson and shows off its signature fat sound.

House of Marley Hits The Big Screen With Making of Legend Remixed

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Imagine having the chance to remix a Bob Marley song. Pulling Aston Barrett’s bass sounds from the original track, adding spacey echo to Bob’s vocal tracks and putting your own stamp on a classic song. It’d be a dream, right? That’s exactly what a group of musicians set out to do with the Legend Remixed album, and now an accompanying documentary is set for release this week.

Entitled Making of Legend Remixed, the film follows the creative process of musicians and producers (ranging from reggae to rock to EDM), trying their hand at remixing Marley tracks. The goal? Reimagining the greatest hits album, Legend, and creating a new spin on a timeless sound. Chosen by Ziggy Marley, producer Jason Bentley oversaw the project which features Stephen Marley, Pretty Lights, Thievery Corporation, Jason Bentley, Lee “Scratch” Perry and more.

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The Making of Legend Remixed makes its debut this week at the legendary El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday, August 7, and the premiere is going to be crazy.  With DJ sets coming from Photek and Beats Antique (both were contributors to Legend Remixed), expect tons of stars walking the red carpet and lots of love for the music of Bob Marley.

Can’t make it to Los Angeles? No worries. The film will be making its online debut on August 7, when the Making of Legend Remixed is broadcast live on the Tuff Gong TV YouTube channel. Tune in and you’ll be able to check out in-depth, behind-the-scenes footage of the creative process that went into the Legend Remixed album. Catch rare glimpses of studio life and what it’s like to turn a reggae classic into a electronic masterpiece.

LegendRemixed3Check out the exclusive clip for Making of Legend Remixed below and get ready for the big premiere on Wednesday, August 7. It’s all going down at the big party at the El Rey Theatre, but you can get your front row seat right here.

Bob Marley Transforms on New Legend: Remixed Album

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FACT: Bob Marley’s music is timeless. Period. Over the years, artists of all genres, from funk to punk and everything in between, have felt a kinship to the records made by The Wailers. The music has now become so deeply engrained in memory banks that many producers are weaving the spirit of Bob’s sound into their work. With that idea in mind, the Legend: Remixed album was born.

Building on the foundation of one of the greatest hits albums ever, the Legend: Remixed album transforms the reggae classic into an all-star EDM remix creation. Overseen by producer Jason Bently, the album brings together major stars like Thievery Corporation and Pretty Lights with reggae heroes like Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

With a street date of June 25, the Legend: Remixed album is a must-hear record, no matter whether you prefer reggae or electronic music. Strap on a pair of our over-ear headphones and check out the album’s trailer below. Then, read our picks for the five best remixes on the record and be prepared to have your mind blown by these epic tracks.

“Waiting In Vain (Jim James Remix)”

LegendRemixed1Importing a throbbing and stuttering bass into “Waiting In Vain,” this classically tight Marley song has turned into a spacious affair on Legend: Remixed. Although primarily known as the frontman of country-rockers My Morning Jacket, the song’s producer Jim James created a minimal sound that plays primarily off Bob’s backing vocals and some light drum and horn sounds.

“Stir It Up (Ziggy Marley Remix)”

LegendRemixed2Handling his father’s song with deft care, Ziggy Marley stripped down “Stir It Up” to its bare bones and lovingly recreated it from the ground up. Filled with lush synthesizers and hand clap-inducing drums, the new remix has maximized the song’s original anthemic quality by 200 percent.

“Get Up Stand Up (Thievery Corporation Remix)”

LegendRemixed3Bob Marley’s legendary version of “Get Up Stand Up” is very much based on the earthy sounds of Jamaican. However, the Thievery Corporation, an electronic/dub/acid jazz duo from Washington D.C., blast the track into outer space, almost nearly past Lee “Scratch” Perry’s home planet. Honoring the traditional dub sound, the Legend: Remixed track is smothered in heavy reverb.

“Exodus (Pretty Lights Remix)”

LegendRemixed4“Exodus”, perhaps more than any other track on the Legend: Remixed album, captures the spirit of this remix record. The Pretty Lights version of the classic Marley song hits all of the EDM trademarks, including soaring to major highs over static-filled drums and dropping a huge bass bomb.

“Buffalo Soldier (Stephen Marley Remix)”

LegendRemixed5Despite being known as an amazing reggae musician, Stephen Marley shows off his technical tenacity with his intense EDM production work on “Buffalo Soldier.” Rounding out the Legend: Remixed album, the track expands on the horns of the original version and brings a new tension via needling electronic sounds and a bit of Daft Punk atmospherics.

The Greatest Bob Marley Live Concert Moments

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Imagine it. You’re going to see Bob Marley live in concert. The electricity flows through the crowd. There is a hushed silence and then… BOOM! Aston Barrett’s bass hits you in the face as the Wailers engulf you in sound. Bob appears and commands the stage for two hours with a special aura that will never be matched.

If you never saw Bob Marley live in concert, you missed out. Thanks to bootlegs, there are hundreds of rare recordings that capture the intense performances of the Wailers. Strap on a pair of our in-ear headphones, on-ear headphones or over-ear headphones and check out this list of the greatest Bob Marley live concert moments. From massive arenas to intimate club shows, there is magic in these recordings rarely seen anywhere else in music history.

Smile Jamaica Concert, Kingston, Jamaica, 1976

Two days after gunmen attempted to assassinate him, Bob Marley trudged on to play one of his biggest concerts ever. Opening up with an intense medley of “War,” “No More Trouble” and “Get Up Stand Up,” National Heroes Park erupted into one mass of dancing bodies.

Live in London, England, 1977

On four consecutive nights in 1977, Bob Marley and the Wailers played the Rainbow Theatre and recorded one of the greatest live albums ever, Live! At the Rainbow. Unlike most live records, this album launched three monster singles and stayed in the charts for over a year.

One Love Peace Concert, Kingston, Jamaica, 1978

Jamaica was at a dividing point and only one man could put it back together. Bob Marley returned from his self-imposed exile for the One Love Peace Concert and united Jamaica’s two opposing political parties. He followed this up with one of his most soul stirring performances ever.

Live in Santa Barbara, California, 1979

Just after the release of Survival, The Wailers embarked on a major US tour, but the highlight was a show at the beautiful Santa Barbara Bowl. Built right into the side of a large hill, the venue had a mystic vibe and it fed into the electric feel of Marley’s set. Stocked with hits like “Positive Vibration,” “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Get Up, Stand Up,” this concert is a thing of beauty.

Live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1980

Before passing in 1981, Bob Marley’s live concert experience reached its apex at his final show in Pennsylvania. Three encores, a fully stacked set list and a stunning near seven minute version of “Get Up Stand Up” made Marley’s final show unlike anything else ever seen in music history.

#LiveMarley Contest Winner: Jeremy Hopwood/Caravan Skate Shop

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As a part of the #LiveMarley contest on our Facebook page, we’ve been asking you to submit stories of how you have personally been inspired by Bob Marley’s values. The first winner of one of our sick new watches is Jeremy Hopwood, a 27-year-old skater from Seattle, who is also the owner of Caravan, a mobile skate shop.

OK. Your first thought was “What’s a mobile skate shop?” Right? Well, Jeremy was tired of the old skate shop model — he wanted to move it out into the streets. Instead of waiting for someone else to do it, Hopwood bought a van, tricked it out with a quarter pipe and stocked it full of decks, wheels and trucks. Forget the ice cream man… Kids are now running to the Caravan Skate Shop van. We spent some time talking to Jeremy about the shop, his charity work with Skate For Change and the future of the van.

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What was the reason that you started Caravan?

Caravan evolved out of boredom and a desire to do something meaningful. The whole idea didn’t come to me at once, but it was a feeling that I had… A burning. After I thought of the mobile skate shop idea, it took me a few months before I actually bought the vehicle. It was Earth Day 2012. My friend and I went out for a day trip here in Issaquah, Washington, starting at 6 or 7 AM. We actually didn’t know it was Earth Day until we got back from the trip.

How did the charitable element come into play?

The charity aspect came out of pure desire to continue what I started. I went to a local skate shop with the idea and the owner and I began converting the van to have a better aesthetic and functionality for skateboarding. I got word of Pam Miller (a skate event organizer) and her work, and was able to go to that first event at Samammish Park and volunteer with set-up/breakdown for the event. I passed out water and had tools and extra bearings/hardware for people skating. It slowly evolved to where I was accepting donations of skateboard equipment and shoes, and then going to events and giving them out to kids who needed them.

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How did you become involved with Skate For Change?

Getting involved with Skate for Change (a non-profit group of skaters who give back to low-income families and the homeless) was another blessing from Pam Miller, and the skate park competition circuit she runs. I took the Caravan out to Woodinville Skatepark with a pack of younger rippers, Jaeden Ovenall, Kyle McQueen and we entered the contest as a team. It was the first contest I had been in since I was 18 or so. So Skate for Change had a booth set up and it was about as natural as it could have been. I was already doing the charity aspect of Caravan and it was a perfect fit.

What kind of projects are you working on with Skate For Change?

Caravan and Skate for Change are starting to come together, but it hasn’t happened just quite yet. Mike Smith [the founder of Skate For Change] travels the country and speaks at high schools, and is gaining a huge following. They just won the State Farm $25,000 grant for the second year in a row, and just recently opened up the Bay in Nebraska, an indoor skate park/youth facility. So as far as my part, I go out with SFC Seattle most Sundays and spread the word about what we are doing in our community. Besides that, I am working to recycle used skateboards by shaping, sanding, and painting them, and by leading by example.

What’s the connection between skateboarding and making changes in society?

I’ve had conversations about the connection between skating and society since I was a lot younger. The first skateboard video I was in was called Wood Relation. To me that title says a lot on its own; skateboards are a vehicle for positivity and growth for individuals. They don’t pollute the environment, at least their carbon footprint is much smaller than most other modes of transportation. Beyond that, skating is an outlet for creativity, in art, in the physical form and with photography/filmmaking. It’s an extremely positive activity, but I believe anything active can be good. A lot of skaters don’t like scooters, rollerbladers, bmx or traditional sports. I think those are great and much better than kids playing Call of Duty any day.

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Some people just don’t understand skaters. They think they are lazy. They think they are destructive. “A skater comes down the street and it’s loud… It shocks people,” Hopwood says of skaters’ reputation. “They think you are reckless and are going to run into them.” Through his work with Caravan and his latest adventure (a summer spent acting as a counselor at a Massachussets sports camp), Jeremy is doing his part to keep the skate community in a positive light. He’s even considering making Caravan a bi-coastal project with a new van on the East Coast.

If Bob Marley’s vision for a better world has inspired you to hit the streets, plant trees, pick up trash or spend time helping others in your community, then we want to hear your story! Visit the #LiveMarley contest page on our Facebook profile and tell us what you are doing locally to improve the planet for a chance to win a new watch.

 

The Women of Bob Marley’s Family Tree

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Bob Marley didn’t just land on the planet one day like some sort of musical superhero. Most people know he was born in Jamaica, but what else do you know about the Marley family tree? In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re taking a deeper look at the strong and independent women who carry on Bob’s vision.

Rita Marley

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Remember the “three little birds” from Bob’s song? He was actually talking about the I-Threes, The Wailers background singers, which featured his wife Rita Marley. Marrying Marley in 1966, Rita was Bob’s wife until his passing and became mother to six of his children. Continuing her husband’s charitable efforts, she has given help to children all over the world through the Robert Marley Foundation and the Rita Marley Foundation.

Cedella Booker Marley

BobMarleyFamilyTreeKnown as the “Keeper of the Flame” and matriarch of the Marley family tree, Cedella Booker gave birth to Robert Nesta Marley at the age of 18. A singer herself, she took care of Bob by herself after his father passed away when he was only ten-years-old. As the historian of Bob’s life and author of two biographies, Cedella spent most of her life raising her son’s family and keeping his spirit alive.

The Marley Daughters

BobMarleyFamilyTree3During his life, Bob Marley had four daughters that would follow on his path of creating art in many different mediums. Through music, fashion and museum work, Sharon, Cedella, Karen and Stephanie all made significant contributions to the Marley family legacy. Banding together with their brothers Ziggy and Steven, Sharon and Cedella toured together as singers in the Melody Makers.

The women of the Marley family have been able to do some amazing things throughout their lives while still keeping Bob’s legacy alive and intact. Just like the Marleys, mothers all over the world are capable of doing incredible things. We honor and thank them for all of the contributions they’ve made to our lives.