WANTED: The man who shot the sheriff.note Bob Marley
(February 6, 1945 - May 11, 1981) was a Jamaican musician who popularized reggae as a musical art and (by association) Rastafari as a religious movement throughout Jamaica and the world at large.
He was the lead singer for the Wailers, a Jamaican reggae and ska group which started in 1963 and lasted until 1974. During that time, Marley recorded many songs, both as a solo artist and in conjunction with the band, and many of those songs were released in the years following his death from cancer in 1981. Among his most well-known hits are "Get Up, Stand Up," "One Love," "I Shot the Sheriff," "Buffalo Soldier," "Redemption Song," "No Woman No Cry," and "Iron Lion Zion."
Among his posthumous achievements: He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, awarded the 2001 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and had a statue of his likeness erected at Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston, Jamaica. Additionally, he appears in several works of tourism-related art and across various media, including having an Expy
, "Bob, the King of Reggae,"
in the Twin Of Twins
' "Stir It Up"
Marley's most recognizable physical feature is his dreadlocks hairstyle, which has since become synonymous with Jamaican culture and is a favorite hairstyle for several reggae and Jamaican dancehall artistes and also generally for both men and women worldwide.
He has an official website
. The Other Wiki
also has a greatly detailed page
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: In Jamaica in particular Bob Marley's status among the people and rastafarians is practically more comparable to a prophet or a divine Messianic incarnation than that of a musical artist. He is worshipped among Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey.
- Badass Boast:
- "Iron, Lion Zion": "I'm gonna be iron like a lion in Zion!"
- "Small Axe": ''"If you are the big tree, We are the small axe."
- The whole premise of the song "Screw Face", which is about staring someone down to show you aren't scared of them and will fight them if they mess with you.
- Borrowed Catch Phrase:
- The line "you can fool some people some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time" in "Get Up, Stand Up", is a variation on a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln although it's a Peter Tosh line not Marley (Marley does perform it on live albums after Peter left The Wailers though).
- Marley's famous death bed quote to his son Ziggy "Money Can't Buy Life" is actually the title of a 1962 calypso song by Eric Morris.
- Concept Album: Survival, about apartheid in Africa and encouraging its population to fight against it.
- Crapsack World: Bob Marley's songs are mostly political and social protests against both universal as well as local problems in Jamaica: Concrete Jungle, Burnin' And Lootin', No More Trouble, War, Rat Race, Johnny Was, So Much Trouble In The World, Real Situation, No Woman, No Cry, Get Up Stand Up, "Babylon System, Survival. He often felt angry when people just bought his records and did nothing else but listen and smoke a joint to them. The man frequently reminded people in the West that the topics of hunger, crime, war, poverty and other misery in Jamaica weren't just musical fantasies, but real-life problems that caused his country to keep stuck in hardships.
- Darker and Edgier: Done several times, on account of his varying between pop reggae and political reggae. Soul Rebels from 1970 is a much darker album than most of The Wailers' other records from the period. Catch A Fire is darker than most of his other Island Records albums. Survival from 1979 is a darker album than its predecessor Kaya, something which was intentional.
- Determinator: See the Awesome Page.
- Disappeared Dad: His father was a Royal Marine captain and was often away on trips; eventually he died of a heart attack when Bob was 10. Eventually Bob himself would become this for his children.
- Dreadlock Rasta: His song "Buffalo Soldier" is the Trope Namer.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Bob Marley's earliest songs have him sound much more like a typical smooth 1960s soul singer, with an equally high voice.
- Empty Fridge Empty Life: Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Satisfy My Soul.
- Fugitive Arc: I Shot The Sheriff, Running Away, Exodus, Run For Cover, Keep On Movin'
- Genre Savvy: Bob knew that the stereotype of reggae music was happy, sunshine holiday music, and so recorded more poppy singles that sat alongside his more serious political work (a pre-Island example being "Sugar Sugar" and two Island examples being "Shine Jamaica" and "Three Little Birds"). He even had the album Kaya mixed in that style, in the knowledge it would draw in fans for its highly political successor, Survival.
- God-Is-Love Songs: Most of them reference God (Jah) in one way or another. Some of the more specific ones are Hallelujah Time, So Jah Say, Redemption Song, Want More, Zion Train, Forever Loving Jah, Give Thanks & Praises,...
- Half-Breed Discrimination: According to his wife, he was often bullied by his peers as a child for being half-white.
- Happily Married: To Rita Marley (nee Anderson) for 15 years up to the time of his death. This despite numerous affairs, of which Rita was fully aware. Bob considered Rita to be like a sister to him, and was very protective of her.
- Heavy Meta: "Trenchtown Rock," "Roots Rock Reggae," "Jamming"...
- Hula and Luaus: In the video for "Three Little Birds," for no clear reason, probably because he had nothing to do with the song's release as a single.
- I Just Want To Be Free: A major theme in his entire work.
- In the Blood: Three of his children, Ky-Mani, Damian "Junior Gong" and David "Ziggy" Marley, went on to become well-known entertainers themselves.
- As did Stephen, who is considered to have the most Bob-like voice out of them but has recorded the least material.
- Live Album: Two official ones: Live! and Babylon By Bus.
- Made a Slave: Imagery invoked in Concrete Jungle, Slave Driver, Buffalo Soldier, Redemption Song and even into the sleeve notes of the album Survival.
- May-December Romance: Between his mother and father. She was 18, he was 50.
- Music Is Politics: Marley was a protest singer first and foremost. The majority of his songs are about politics.
- Pep Talk Song: No Woman No Cry, Wake Up And Live, Lively Up Yourself, Get Up, Stand Up, Coming In From The Cold, Exodus, Iron Lion Zion, Africa Unite.
- The Power of Love: Bob is just as famous as a protest singer as he is as a writer of love songs.
- The Power of Rock: One good thing about music/ when it hits you feel no pain - Trenchtown Rock.
- Protest Song: "War," "I Shot the Sheriff," "Get Up, Stand Up", "Buffalo Soldier", "Rat Race", "Them Belly Full", "So Much Trouble In The World, "Revolution", "Rebel Music", "Run For Cover", "Hypocrites",...
- Rearrange the Song: As is common in reggae, Marley rerecorded many of his pre-Island songs in the 70s reggae style. He added completely new sections to "It's Alright" and renamed it "Night Shift". He also changed "One Love" from a ska song to a laidback reggae song. There are numerous other examples but these two particularly stand out.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Ambush In The Night, inspired by the murder attempt on his life.
- Refrain from Assuming: Some people, especially those who don't speak English that well, frequent misinterpret "No Woman, No Cry" as a Misogyny Song, thinking it means that without women there would be no reason to cry. A lot of stupid men find this incredibly funny, but the last laugh is actually on them, because the song is simply about a man telling a woman not to cry, despite their misery.
- Shout-Out: Frequently to Haile Selassie, including a translated version of a famous speech of his being the basis for "War". He also does a shout out to his children in the Exodus outtake version of "Keep On Moving" (the basis for the 1995 single remix).
- "Punky Reggae Party" name-checks The Damned, The Jam, The Clash, Toots And The Maytals and Dr. Feelgood. Bob wrote it after realizing that punk and reggae share the same goal - speaking out against injustice.
- Silly Love Songs: "Stir It Up," among others.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: His songs were mostly on the idealistic side, encouraging people to treat each other equally. However, he was deeply cynical towards oppressors and usually encouraged people being persecuted to do whatever they could to stop it (as evidenced in the lyrics of "War," which are a translated Haile Selassie speech). However, his level of cynicism pales in comparison to his former band-mate Peter Tosh, who was so cynical it is one of his trademarks.
- This caused posthumous problems for him: Because of his religion, he believed that planning for his death would hasten it, and thus never wrote a will. This resulted in record companies keeping a large amount of the money from his music rather than giving it to the people of Jamaica as he had wished.
- According to his widow Rita, Bob's lawyers were so corrupt that they made Rita pay for all his debts, which meant she had to organize a lot of posthumous releases to make enough money. Hence why there are compilations like "Natural Mystic", "One Love" and "Africa Unite", remix albums, and various licensed products (such as rolling papers) that Bob would not have endorsed in his life time.
- Last words: "Money can't buy life."
- Small Reference Pools: Marley is still the most famous reggae singer. A downside of his fame to other reggae performers is that almost every reggae song known in existence has been attributed to him.
- Smoking Is Cool and Smoking Is Not Cool: There are quite a number of photos that depict him smoking a joint. Bob also referenced smokin' herb and spliffs often in his music, including Jump Nyabinghi, Easy Skankin,... but despite all that he was actually quite critical of people just being stoned and doing nothing to change the system. He even referenced it in songs like Burnin' And Lootin' (I must say: all them- all them drugs gonna make you slow/ It's not the music of the ghetto.) and Pimper's Paradise''.
- Take That: Did this a lot in his songs, primarily against racial inequality and subjugation of blacks.
- "Small Axe" has a direct one by Upsetter records, against Studio One, Federal and Treasure Isle, known as 'the big three'. In Jamaican patois the word 'three' is pronounced like 'tree', so the song is really saying 'Upsetter records is going to cut down all the other record companies by being better'. Lee 'Scratch' Perry, owner of Upsetter wrote the lyrics to this song, and was often known for filling his songs with biblical imagery and hidden meanings.
- "Running Away" is a take that at people who accused Bob of "Running Away" from Jamaica after his attempted assassination. There are hints at his belief that the government were out to get him and that's why he wasn't going back. This is often forgotten with the laidback mood of the song, in which lines like "You must have done something you don't want nobody to know about" could be interpreted as some kind of kinky fetish lyric.
- Crazy Baldheads and Stiff Necked Fools are other examples.
- Title Only Chorus: "No Woman No Cry" and '"Redemption Song."
- Train Song: Stop That Train and Zion Train.
- The Unintelligible: Due to his heavy use of marihuana and equally difficult to understand Jamaican patois accent journalists and the audience often had a hard time trying to make sense out of what Bob was saying during interviews.
- Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: As the face of Reggae music, he's pretty much a default ambassador for the whole area.
- Your Cheating Heart: He had affairs with six different women during his marriage to Rita.