Episode 211: Bob Marley: Reefer, Reggae, Rastafari

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we dig deep into the life of the legendary singer, activist, and cultural icon, Bob Marley. His life involves more than music and weed; indeed, there is also a civil war, an assassination attempt, and a tragic death. Robert Nesta Marley was born in a small rural Jamaican village called Nine Miles in 1945. His father was a white man, Captain Norval Marley, who worked for the British conquerors of the island at the time. He was 70 years old. Marley’s mother was Cedella, was a young black woman (seventeen years old), descended from the Cromantee tribe on Jamaica, famous for its most bloody slave revolt. In Bob Marley, you found both the oppressed and the oppressor.

This shaped his young life on the island since he was never fully welcomed because he was a half-breed. He had to be tough, and tough he was. He started to hang out with a street gang called the Rude Boys, and while he never joined, his willingness to do anything gave him the name Tuff Gong (which stuck with him later in life).

Eventually, Bob started to play music on the streets of Trench Town and built a group called the Wailers along with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer (two legends in their own rights). They struggled with success, broke up, got back together again, and then finally made some hits and started touring with Bruce Springsteen and Sly and the Family Stone.

Soon, Bob Marley and the Wailers became huge in the UK and finally the US, and they started producing amazing music unlike the world had ever known. This was shortly after Bob found Rastafarianism, which bleeds into the lyrics and purpose of all his songs. What gets crazy is that the island of Jamaica falls into a civil war with violence on the streets.

The new Prime Ministers is against corporate control of industry and opposes the CIA, and that’s a whole lotta mess. Eventually, Bob was going to perform a show for peace, but two days before, people came to his house and shot him twice, his wife in the head, and his manager five times. Marley survived, obviously, and is such a badass, he still did the concert two days later.

So, how does Bob Marley end up getting even more popular as a musician? Why did he and his early band play in a grave yard to defeat “duppy” ghosts? How do two gang members convince him to leave England and come back to Jamaica? How does he get the two warring political leaders to shake hands on stage? Why did he ignore the cancer that ultimately took his life? How many kids did he have, and how many of them were the products of cheating on his wife? Listen, laugh, learn.

 

Rolling stones article: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-life-and-times-of-bob-marley-20050310

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