By wsjohnson

One love, one heart, let's get together and . . .

Born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, Robert 'Nesta' Marley helped introduce reggae music to the world and remains one of the genre's most beloved artists to this day. The son of a black teenage mother and a much older, Scottish father, Bob's youth was spent in St. Ann Parish, in the rural village of Nine Miles.

Arriving in Kingston in the late 1950s, Bob lived in Trench Town, one of the city's poorest neighbourhoods, where despite the deplorable poverty, Bob found inspiration in the music that was everywhere around him.

Trench Town, at this time, had a number of successful local performers and was considered the Motown of Jamaica. Like others his age, Bob and his childhood friend "Bunny" Livingston devoted much of their time to music. Under the guidance of Joe Higgs, Bob worked on improving his singing abilities. While studying under Higgs, Bob met another student of Higgs, Peter McIntosh (aka Peter Tosh)

In 1963, Bob, "Bunny" and Peter formed the Wailing Wailers.

With their first single, "Simmer Down," rocketing to the top of the Jamaican charts in January 1964, the group became quite popular in Jamaica. Also it was around this time, Bob began an exploration of his "spiritual" side, while also developing a growing interest in the nascent Rastafarian movement.

Both religious and political, the Rastafarian movement, which some say began back in the 1930's, drew its beliefs from many sources, including Jamaican nationalist Marcus Garvey, the Old Testament, and African culture and heritage.

Bob & the Wailers got their 'big break' in 1972 after landing a contract with Chris Blackwell's Island Records, recording the critically acclaimed album Catch a Fire. The group released their second full album, Burnin', featuring the hit song "I Shot the Sheriff" the next year.

Now called Bob Marley & The Wailers, the group toured extensively and helped increase reggae's worldwide popularity. Scoring their first British Top 40 hit in 1975 with "No Woman, No Cry"

A much-admired star in his native Jamaica, Bob was on his way to becoming an international music icon, finally cracking the U.S. music charts with the album Rastaman Vibration in 1976.

(My personal favourite)

One track on "Vibration" stands out as an expression of his devotion to his faith and his interest in political change: that would be "War." The song's lyrics were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie, the 20th century Ethiopian emperor who is seen as a spiritual leader in the Rastafarian movement.

Seen, by some, as a "battle cry" for freedom from oppression, the song discusses a new Africa, one without the racial hierarchy enforced by colonial rule.

To support the album, Bob and the group planned a series of concerts in the United States, but would only play two concerts, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, before Bob became ill, forcing the cancellation of the tour.

(Bob had a previous health scare earlier, after seeking treatment in July for a toe injured earlier, his doctors discovered cancerous cells in the toe and suggested amputation. Because his religious beliefs prohibited amputation, Bob refused to have the surgery)

Unfortunately, that cancer, thought benign, had spread throughout his body. Traveling to Europe, Bob underwent a series of 'unconventional' treatments in Germany, and was subsequently able to fight off the cancer for months. It soon became clear, however, that sadly, Bob didn't have much longer to live.

Comprehending this news as fact, Bob attempted a return to his beloved Jamaica one last time. Regrettably, it would be a journey he would not complete.

Bob died in Miami Florida on May 11, 1981.

Adored by the people of Jamaica, Bob was given a hero's send-off, more than 30,000 people paid their respects during his memorial service, held at the National Arena in Kingston.

Shortly before his death, Bob had received the Order of Merit from the Jamaican government.

And now you know - -

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