5 Things You May Not Have Known About Bob Marley

Regarded as the first ‘Third World Superstar,’ the Jamaican icon would have turned 79 on Feb. 6.

The Hon. Robert Nesta Marley O.M., more famously known as Bob Marley, is among the most revered musicians of the 20th century. Regarded as the first “Third World Superstar,”  Marley is credited with taking Reggae and other forms of Jamaican music and culture to the world with his message of love, peace, spirituality, justice, and unity.

As a teenager in the 1960s, Marley formed the Wailers along with fellow Jamaican icons Eventually, the group would be rebranded Bob Marley and the Wailers along with I-Three, comprised of Rita Marley, his wife, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths, as background vocalists. The band went on to release several classic albums such as Catch a Fire, Burnin’,  Exodus, and icon songs like “Stir It Up,” Get Up, Stand Up,” “Jamming,” “Three Little Birds,” “One Love,” “Is This Love,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and many more.

Although he died at 36 in 1981, Marley's legacy has transcended his brief time on earth. Since his death, his likeness has been one of the most recognizable images across the globe, and his music and message continue to uplift humanity.

For the first time, Marley’s life will be the central focus in the highly anticipated biopic One Love starring Kingsley Ben Adir, set for release on Feb. 14.

Dancehall superstar Sean Paul, whose production company is behind the biopic,  shared Marley's impact on his artistry.

“Bob Marley has been an influence on everybody here (Jamaica) who chose to do music. It’s not just because he was a very popular person but his songs are so potent that they’ve lasted into this day,” Paul told “We all look up to him. Today, the music doesn’t reflect the struggle as much and I would like to see more of that.”

Tony Rebel, a Reggae legend and creator of the Rebel Salute Festival that’s been celebrating and preserving the genre for the last 30 years, also shared the impact of Marley on his artistry. 

“My biggest inspiration has always been Bob Marley. Even though I didn’t see him with my own eyes, I felt it when he died, “ Rebel said to “So when I see Stephe, Ziggy, Damien, and all of them, I call them “Royal Children” because of what their father has done for me with his life and music.”

In honor of what would have been his 79th birthday on February 6, here are 5 Things You Might Not Have Known About Bob Marley.

  • He Once Lived in the State of Delaware

    On two separate occasions, Marley lived in the state of Delaware briefly in the mid-1960s and then again in the early 1970s. He came to the States after his mother, Cedella Booker, remarried and relocated to Wilmington, where she opened a Jamaican music shop called Roots. Amazingly, Marley worked as a lab assistant at Du Pont until he left in 1969 to resume his music career with the Wailers. In 1972, he returned to the US, where his son Stephen Marley was born in Wilmington but accounts vary on how long he stayed. During his second stay, he was employed at the Chrysler Assembly Plant in Newark, allegedly under the name “Donald Marley.” In 1976, he penned the song “Night Shift”, which is said to have been inspired by his job at Chrysler's warehouse, where he drove a forklift.

  • He Was An Early Advocate of an Organic Lifestyle

    Before it came into vogue, Marley was a proponent of a wellness lifestyle. Raised a Catholic, he converted to Rastafarianism in the late 1960s. Some faith adherents believe that Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, was the Second Coming of Jesus and God incarnate in human form. One of the pillars of the faith was a strict diet and natural healing, which Marley remained committed to throughout his life as a vegetarian. Rastas are prohibited from consuming alcohol, salt, shellfish, eggs, artificial additives and chemicals, and caffeine. Throughout his life, he held fast to an organic style.

  • His Second Love Was Football

    Bob Marley

    While music was Marley’s first love, football (soccer) was a close second. He would play football throughout his life and was nicknamed “Tuff Gong” because of his intense play on the field. In an interview with a journalist who asked if he could get to know the real person behind his celebrity status, Marley replied: “If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers.” According to the Bob Marley Museum housed in his former estate, he made sure that the property was equipped with a gymnasium so he could play football when he wanted. When he was laid to rest,  his casket contained his red Gibson Les Paul guitar, a Bible opened at Psalm 23, a stalk of ganja placed there by Rita Marley, and a football.

  • He’s Not Officially Credited As a Writer on “No Woman, No Cry”

    Even the casual Bob Marley fan would know that “No Woman, No Cry” is one of his signature songs. First appearing on his Natty Dread LP in 1974, the updated version on his  Live! album in 1975 became iconic and catapulted him into a global superstar. Interestingly, Vincent Ford, a friend of Marley's who ran a soup kitchen in Trenchtown, his hometown, is credited as the songwriter. The royalties from the song would go to Ford’s along with other Marley classics, “Positive Vibration,” “Roots Rock Reggae,” and “Crazy Baldheads,” which funded the soup kitchen that Ford ran in Trenchtown until he died in 2009. While many say that Marley composed the song and credited Ford to avoid fulfilling a contract with Cayman Music, “No Woman, No Cry” is a bona fide classic and was ranked No. 37 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

  • He Remains One of the Top Earning Posthumous Musicians

    Almost 43 years after his death, Marley remains one of the most profitable deceased artists. The Bob Marley Estate continues to amass wealth from his music, and it allows companies to use his name and images on products such as speakers, shoes, headphones, and more. In 2023, the first Marley-branded dispensary premiered in Jamaica, and according to Forbes, Marley’s estate has generated $16 Million, placing him 9th among posthumous musicians.

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