THE EARLY YEARS 1961-1968
1961: Nesta Robert Marley was only 17 years old when he started animating sound systems with his childhood friend Bunny Wailer. Ska was taking off, Nesta sported a preppy haircut and strutted down the Jamaican streets in dark tailored suits.
After a series of chance events, Marley recorded two 45 rpm records at Beverley’s under the name of Bobby Martel. ‘Judge Not’, ‘One Cup Of Coffee’ and ‘Terror ‘(which remained unreleased) gave birth to some of the main ideologies Bob defended throughout his career. These themes of love, spirituality and Jamaica’s crushing social violence were to become a part of Bob’s Marley’s spiritual crusade. The tracks were released in the UK, thanks to Chris Blackwell, founder of Island label, and met critical praise and success among England’s Jamaican community.
Following their first international triumph, Bob and Bunny Wailer signed to STUDIO ONE where they became acquainted with Peter Tosh and Junior Braithwaite. They formed their first band The Teenagers. Bob Marley was not yet the singer or charismatic front man he would later become known as, but he contributed heavily to the recording process. Over a 100 tracks left the studio between 1962 and 1965, some hitting the Jamaican and UK charts, namely Bob’s compositions: ‘Simmer Down’, ‘Put It On’ and ‘I’m Still Waiting’.
In 1966 Bunny, Peter and Bob became The Wailers and founded their own label Wailin Soul with their savings from previous record sales.
That year also marked Bob’s introduction to Rastafarian culture. Upon the Ethiopian king Hailé Selassie’s visit to Jamaica, his impact on Bob was so great that he would later go on to become the cause’s spokesman and prophet.
In 1968 the band reunited after a short absence and recorded The Wailing Wailers the first album to sew the seeds of what is known today as reggae. That year Robert Nesta Marley became Bob Marley, singer and ultra charismatic leader of the Wailers. The band changed to Bob Marley & The Wailers. Marley grew his hair into dreadlocks as part of the Rastafarian movement and these locks would remain uncut until his death.
The Conquering Lion passed away on the May 11 1981 in Miami. His funeral assembled hundreds and thousands of people around the world to pay their respects to their spiritual leader. Even the maroons, an autarkic clan of Rastas came down from the mountain to bow down before their brother’s body.
THE CONQUERING LION
Marley’s message of love is immortal and continues to inspire people around the world.
…So much so that Marley’s music has been covered by some of the world’s biggest artists:
AUTHOR: Cyril Bonnet