Bob Marley’s Greatest Achievements
With several tens of millions of records sold in his breath-taking and record-breaking musical career, Bob Marley is regarded as the undisputed king in the reggae music genre. In the eyes of many music critics, the Jamaican-born reggae artists can safely be considered as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. And even after close to half a century since they were released, Marley’s greatest hits such as “Redemption Song”, “Could You Be Loved” and “No Woman, No Cry” continue to make huge waves across the world.
Facts about Bob Marley
Birth date and Place: February 6, 1945; Nine Mile, St. Ann Parish, Jamaica
Death date and Place: May 11, 1981; Miami, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death: Malignant Melanoma (a type of skin cancer)
State funeral: May 21, 1981
Buried at: St. Ann Parish, Jamaica
Birth name: Nesta Robert Marley
Other names: Donald Marley, Tuff Gong
Mother: Cedella Booker
Father: Norval Sinclair Marley
Education: Stepney Primary and Junior High School
Wife: Rita Anderson (married on February 10, 1966)
Bob Marley’s children: 11, including Sharon, Stephen, David “Ziggy”, Damian, Ky-Mani, Cedella, Rohan
Record Labels: Beverley’s, Studio One, JAD Records, CBS Records, Island Records
Notable Albums with the Wailers: Catch a Fire (1973), Burnin’ (1973), Natty Dread (1975), Exodus (1977), Survival (1979), Uprising (1980)
Famous hits: “I Shot the Sheriff” (1973), “One Love” (1977), “Three Little Birds” (1977), “Redemption Song” (1980), “Buffalo Soldier” (1983), “No Woman, No Cry” (1974), “War” (1976), “Get Up, Stand Up” (1973)
Notable Awards and Honors: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Jamaican Order of Merit in 1981, United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World (1978), Inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004
Influenced by: Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley
Influences on: Reggae culture, music, fashion
Ideology: Pan-Africanism, Rastafari movement, Garveyism
Achievements of Bob Marley
Worldhistoryedu.com presents to you 7 greatest achievements of Bob Marley, the legendary Reggae musician, songwriter and social activist.
Co-founder of the Wailing Wailers
Growing up in St. Ann Parish, a village in Nine Miles, Bob Marley realized at such an early age that his path out of poverty was through music. He and his childhood friend and school mate Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston shared the same strong passion for music. As a matter of fact, it was Livingston that encouraged him to play the guitar. Around his late teens, Marley moved to Kingston in the late 1950s.
Living in Trenchtown, a very poor neighborhood, music seemed like his only comfort during those tough times. Under the guidance of voice coach Joe Higgs, Marley and two of his friends – Livingston (Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (Peter Tosh) went ahead to found the Wailing Wailers in 1963. The group would later admit Junior Braithwaite, who was on vocals, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith. After being taught how to play the guitar by Joe Higgs, Marley became the group’s guitarist.
The start of 1964 saw the Wailing Wailers release their first single “Simmer Down”. The song was a huge success in the country, topping the Jamaican charts in January 1964. Under the guidance of the guidance of reggae producer Leslie Kong, the group recorded some very notable songs, making the band very popular. Their debut studio album (a full-length LP) The Wailing Wailers was released on Studio One label in 1965. The album had songs like “One Love”, “Rude Boy”, and “Simmer Down”. However, due to financial difficulties the group disintegrated for some time.
Did you know: In addition to being number 1 on the Jamaican chart (in January 1964), the single “Simmer Down” alone sold more than 68,000 copies?
Bob Marley was the driving force behind the Wailers
By the mid-1960s, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith had departed the Wailing Wailers, leaving Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The group then went ahead to call themselves the Wailers. Infusing political and religious themes, Marley as the lead vocalist of the group helped come out with some amazing albums that relied heavily on rhythmic, steady beats. Examples of such hit albums include Soul Rebels (1970), Soul Revolution (1971), The Best of The Wailers (1971), and Catch a Fire (1973).
Marley and his band members also drew a lot of inspiration from the Rastafarian movement – a political and religious movement that emerged around the 1930s to promote Black pride and culture as well as interest in African culture.
Bob Marley worked so hard in the music group, making it a huge success in the United States and Europe. Such was the group’s fame that they became more popular than the music acts they opened for in the United States.
Did you know: Prior to the name the Wailing Wailers, the group was briefly went by names such as the Teenagers and the Wailing Rudeboys?
Promoted peace and unity in Africa
Bob Marley was a Pan-Africanist who was very sympathetic to the struggles of Africans. His songwriting prowess was evident for everyone to see in his brilliant masterpiece “Buffalo Soldier” [from the posthumous album Confrontation released in 1983]. In that song, Marley makes reference to the Black American soldiers that bravely fought and shed their blood during the Indian Wars (also known as the First Nations Wars) all in effort to protect the country that for centuries treated Blacks like chattel.
Marley envisioned a time when the African continent would emulate the kind of resistance shown by those Buffalo soldiers in order to break the mental bonds that kept them under-developed. As a result of his commitment to peace and unity in Africa, Marley was invited to perform at the independence ceremony in Zimbabwe on April 17, 1980. Two years prior that, the United Nations had awarded him the Peace Medal of the Third World.
Did you know: In his first trip to Africa, Marley visited Kenya and Ethiopia?
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
In 1994, about 13 years after his death, Bob Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The prestigious Cleveland, Ohio-based organization praised the global music icon for his unparalleled contribution to reggae music, pop culture and music in general. Four of Bob Marley’s songs have also been inducted (as of 2021) into the hall. Even to this day, Marley’s writing style and lyrical content continue to be praised for having enormous influence on artists from a wide range of music genres.
A global ambassador for reggae music
It is highly unlikely there will ever be an artist that could knock Bob Marley off his perch as the symbol of Jamaican music, culture and identity. Such was Marley’s influence. His unique blend of reggae, rocksteady and ska music genres allowed him to properly communicate his social and political messages. His infusion of spirituality also made his music appealing to both Rastafarians and non-Rastafarians.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there was no greater global ambassador for reggae music than Bob Marley. And even in death, his songs still somehow continue to resonate with social and political activists all over the world.
Bob Marley risked his life to bring political tensions down in Jamaica
On the back of releasing critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums like Live! (1975) and Rastaman Vibration (1976), Marley tried to use the power of music to unite followers of the two rival political parties in Jamaica.
The reggae superstar accepted an invitation from then-Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley to perform at the “Smile Jamaica” concert on December 5, 1975 at the National Heroes Park, Kingston, Jamaica. The concert was aimed at easing political tensions as the Caribbean nation readied itself for the December 20 national election.
A couple of days before the concert, Marley and his band were attacked at his home in what was an obvious assassination attempt. Thinking that Marley was giving his support to Prime Minister Manley, rivals of the People’s National Party were the ones who allegedly carried out the attack, which saw Marley sustain minor gunshot wounds in the sternum and the bicep. His wife Rita Marley and manager Don Taylor sustained graver injuries, but they managed to pull through after an intensive surgery.
Regardless of the attack, Marley still went ahead to perform at the concert two days later. It was Marley’s way of defying the attackers, saying he didn’t intend taking a day off in his effort to promote peace and reconciliation in Jamaica.
Similarly, in 1978, Bob Marley performed at the One Love Peace Concert that saw Prime Minister Michael Manley of the PNP (People’s National Party) shake hands with opposition leader Edward Seaga of the JLP (Jamaica Labor Party).
A very beloved social and human rights activist
As a global reggae ambassador, Marley had tremendous influence in popular culture of the 1970s. Unselfishly, he used his fame and music to fight oppression wherever he went. His songs contained several themes of peace, social and economic justice.
And the fact that he came from a developing nation, i.e. Jamaica, Marley was in a very good position to promote Pan-Africanism. His songs – for example “War” (1976), “One Love” (1977), and “Africa Unite” (1979) – called on Africans to fight against oppressive regimes in their respective countries.
Bob Marley reasoned that peace in Africa could only be attained when all traces of racial hierarchy and colonial rule are completely destroyed. Marley was particularly critical of the South African apartheid regime at the Amandla Festival in Boston in July 1979.
Other notable achievements of Bob Marley
A few months before his passing in 1981, he was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit by the Jamaican government
Time Magazine selected his 1977 studio album Exodus as the best album of the 20th century. The album, which has hit songs such as “Jamming”, “Three Little Birds”, and “One Love”, was Marley’s ninth studio album and produced on Island Records label.
In 2004, the UK Music Hall of Fame posthumously inducted him.
Bob Marley has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
According to Rolling Stone, Bob Marley comes in at number 11 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
In 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
His album Catch a Fire (1973) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.
Bob Marley’s Legend (1984) attained the best-selling reggae album of all time.
Having sold more than 75 million records worldwide, Bob Marley is one of the most commercially successful artists of all time.