Seems like every day there's another moody musician trashing his hotel room, beating up his girlfriend and then driving wildly around in his car while he is entirely drowned in some form of illegal drug. Usually, the man's irrational behaviour is thrown onto some sin-bearing beast such as the battered scapegoat of traumatic childhood. The truth is, you'll rarely find an artist worthy of veneration for both his music and his life because so many musicians shoulder the misfortune of having been deprived of pudding cups in their lunch as children.
Robert Nesta Marley was born out of wedlock and into poverty on February 6, 1945; a son of a loving woman and an absentee father. Bob's was a decent childhood until his white father, Norval Marley, urged his wife to send his son to the city for a better education. Norval received Bob and then left him under the care of an elderly and infirm woman. This left Bob, at the age of five and a half, wandering the streets of Kingston for eighteen months before being found and sent home to his mother, Cedella. During his early teens, Bob Marley lived in the poorer housing projects of St. Anns, Jamaica, and found himself often rejected by his peers because of his light skin; an early romance was shattered by the girl's brothers who said they didn't want," no white man screwing up our bloodlines." Marley had to work to establish himself as a musician: his first two songs were major flops, around a hundred of his early Wailers songs afforded the group only three pounds a week, and their crooked producer kept back the hundred and thousands in royalties they had earned. Still Marley continued to do what he loved, playing music.
Bob Marley sang to improve a chaotic world, singing of hope, world peace, and love for fellow man. Some would say that these songs are sung by many musicians. This is true, but Bob Marley is better.
During the late seventies Jamaica was in turmoil. Michael Manley, leading the Jamaica's left-wing socialist party, and Edward Seaga, leading the country's right wing Jamaica Labour party, were in fierce battle for election as Prime Minister. Brutish gangs from both parties wandered the street bullying their constituencies into submission. Bob Marley was put under tremendous pressure to headline a "Smile Jamaica"concert by Michael Manley, the campaigning Prime Minister. Marley finally gave in and was put under the protection of a group of vigilantes called the Echo Squad. Oddly enough, the usually obsessive guards melted into the night one Friday. In their stead, two carloads of gunman poured out into the compound and shot Marley's manager in the groin five times, his wife in the head, and Bob himself in the chest and arm. All three survived (did they function? Well, I don't know) and Marley bravely sang in front of the throng, reciting, "Puss and dog, dem get together/ what's wrong with you my brother/ puss and dog, dem get together/ why can't we love one another?" After the concert, Marley went into a fourteen month exile which ended when a temporary truce was reached between the two warring Jamaican parties. Bob came home to lead the "One Love Peace Concert" with both Seaga and Manley attending. At the end of his last song he boldly cried out for "the two leading people of this land to come up here and shake hands, show the people that you're gonna unite, show the people that you love `em right." Edward Seaga and Michael Manley, the two warring leaders under whose power thousands had been slaughtered, were made to shake hands in front of the nation of Jamaica. Bob Marley had accepted two men who had been responsible for his near death experience and had convinced them to take the first step towards Jamaican peace.
Bob Marley's dedication to music and his determination in the face of devastating odds can be witnessed throughout his life. His commitment to peace is equally apparent and his songs have touched everyone from South American Indians, to African tribesmen to the citizenry of North America to the world. How many other modern musicians have the United Nations Medal of Peace? Bob Marley remains a true legend on a stage of talented but truly unworthy musicians.
*disclaimer* I have ignored the prodigious smoking by said rockstar of Cannabis Sativa L. his visits to whorehouses, his fathering of at least 14 children by seven seperate women, his marital infidelity, and his thievery of a guitar. Why? Because I want to make him look good.