The Boy From Nine Miles
Robert Nesta Marley is born in Rhoden Hall, Nine Miles, St. Ann, Jamaica to Cedella Malcolm and Captain Norval Sinclair Marley.
1956 — 1958
Cedella Malcolm decides to move her family from the idyllic country farming village of Nine Miles to seek their fortune in the city of Kingston. In Kingston, she makes a home with Thaddeus ‘Toddy’ Livingston and his son, Neville ( Bunny Wailer ) who Bob befriends. They end up settling in a government tenement yard housing project in Trench Town, a ghetto of indescribable poverty.
The Wailing Wailers
17 year-old Bob Marley records the ska song Judge Not for producer Leslie Kong at Coxson Musik City and receives 20 pounds. His name is misspelled on the label as “Bob Morley,” but Judge Not is a local hit. Later he records One Cup of Coffee, Terror, and others which also earn very little money for him. Bob meets Peter McIntosh (Tosh), who has a similar passion for music. Together with Neville ( Bunny Wailer ) Livingston, the three begin writing songs. They settle on the group name The Wailing Wailers. Bob meets his future wife Alfarita Anderson at Coxson Dodd’s studio rehearsals. Bob meets influential mentor and musical genius Joe Higgs, who holds free music clinics for motivated youth at his home in West Kingston. Higgs takes the young Wailers under his wing, coaching them on guitar playing, songwriting and singing. Bob Marley injures his eye with steel shards while working as a welder at his day job. He quits and does not return. Bob’s mother decides to emigrate from Kingston to The United States of America making a new start with her sister’s family in Wilmington, Delaware
The Wailing Wailers top the Jamaican singles charts for the first time, selling more than 80,000 copies of the ska song, Simmer Down. The Wailers perform to a packed house at the popular, historic Ward Theater in Kingston, Jamaica.
Twenty-one year old Robert Nesta Marley and 19-year old Alfarita “Rita” Constantia Anderson are married in Trench Town, Jamaica. Bob Marley goes to Delaware to work and save money for his new family and for his hopeful music business. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia visits Jamaica invigorating the Rastafarian Movement. Bob dreams that a man in a coat and hat places a ring on his hand. Later, he tells his mother that according to his dream His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I has claimed him as his son; Bob realizes that he is a child of Rastafari. Bob, while living and working in Delaware, is called upon by the draft board for Vietnam. Instead of signing up, by the end of 1966 Bob leaves the United States and returns to Jamaica to continue his musical aspirations.
Children of Rastafari
Bob fully immerses himself into the faith of Rastafari with the guidance of Mortimo ‘ Kumi ‘Planno a elder and leader in the Rastafarian movement. Cedella, Bob’s and Rita’s first child is born. Bob and Rita returns to his place of birth St. Ann, Jamaica with their new born daughter where he settles down for a while before finally returning to Kingston.
Rastaman Vibration is released and becomes Bob’s highest-charting Billboard album at Number 8 in the US and Number 15 in the UK. Bob performs in Kingston, Jamaica with Stevie Wonder, all proceeds going to Salvation Army School for the Blind. This will be remembered as the last show that brought the three original Wailers together on stage. Bob agrees to hold a free concert in Kingston called Smile Jamaica. The show is created to heal political factions, lift the people’s morale and provide a sense of solidarity and peace in Jamaica. On the night of December 3rd, an attempted assassination is made on Bob’s life during rehearsals for the “ Smile Jamaica “ concert at 56 Hope Road in Kingston Jamaica. A bullet grazes Bob’s chest ending up in his left arm, Bob’s wife Rita is shot in the head, and his manager Don Taylor suffers gunshot wounds to body. The assailants are never officially identified. Despite the threat on their lives two days earlier, Bob and Rita Marley perform onstage in the Smile Jamaica concert, displaying visible wounds and bandages from the assassination attempt gunfire. Bob goes on a self-imposed exile. First stopping in Nassau, Bahamas before heading to London, England. The exile lasted 18 months.Bob Marley and the Wailers are named Band of the Year by Rolling Stone Magazine. Bob appears on the cover and is featured in a historic series of photos taken by Annie Leibovitz. Bob’s son Kymani is born.
David, Bob’s and Rita’s first son is born at their home in Trench Town. Bob helps to delivery of his son.
Production From Scratch
Bob begins working with innovative producer, Lee Scratch Perry and through him meets the brothers Aston and Carly Barrett, who will later join Bob and the Wailers to play bass and drums.
The Birth of Tuff Gong
Bob Marley founds the Tuff Gong record label. The Wailers’ Soul Rebels album, produced by Lee Scratch Perry, is released to success throughout the Caribbean.
Bob Goes Global
Bob Marley meets Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, in London after a period of time working with singer/songwriter Johnny Nash. Blackwell offers the Wailers their first major recording contract and worldwide exposure. Bob and the group spend the next several months recording intensively in Jamaica and deliver the album Catch A Fire to Blackwell. Bob’s and Rita’s third child, Stephen, is born in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. Bob welcomes two more sons, Rohan and Robert.
Upheaval and Evolution
Natty Dread is released. Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston part from The Wailers group. The I-Three join The Wailers as back-up vocalists. Eric Clapton’s version of I Shot The Sheriff hits number one on the Billboard charts, helping to put reggae on the musical map.
Roots, Rock, Reggae
Bob’s toe is injured while he plays football in Trench Town. The band plays its first gig as Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. This show is recorded and released later that year on the album called Live! Bob Marley performs in Jamaica with the Jackson 5. Bob’s son Julian is born. Bob performs in Kingston, Jamaica with Stevie Wonder, all proceeds going to Salvation Army School for the Blind. This will be remembered as the last show that brought the three original Wailers to together on stage. Natty Dread becomes Bob Marley’s first album to show up on the US Billboard charts and ranks in at number 92. No Woman, No Cry goes to number 22 on the UK Billboard Singles Chart.
Revolution and Recovery
While in England Bob writes and records songs for his albums Exodus and Kaya. Bob sends for rival Jamaican political activists Claudie Massop, Tony Welch and Tek life for a meeting in London to discuss the peace efforts in Jamaica, which includes the staging of the “ One Love “ peace concert to end political division. Exodus is released. Bob Marley and the Wailers tour Europe to great reviews and international acclaim. Bob’s right toe becomes injured a second time while playing football in Paris with a group of French journalists. Bob goes to Miami to recover and get a second opinion on his injured toe.
The One Love Peace Concert is held at The National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. During Jamming, Marley joins the hands of political rivals Michael Manley (PNP) and Edward Seaga (JLP) in an unforgettable and historic moment. The United Nations awards Bob Marley the Third World Peace Medal in New York City. Kaya is released, containing the popular hit singles Is This Love and Satisfy My Soul. Babylon by Bus is released. Bob’s son Damian is born. Bob makes a pilgrimage to Ethiopia.
Covering The Globe
Bob builds himself a professional recording studio, Tuff Gong Studios, and a record manufacturing plant, becoming the first artist in Jamaica to not only own his own studio but also manufacture his own records. Bob and Rita help their children form into The Melody Makers (Sharon, Cedella, Ziggy and Stephen). He writes and plays guitar on their first single released in Jamaica, Children Playing in the Streets. Survival is released which includes the songs “ Africa Unite “ and “Zimbabwe.“ Bob Marley and the Wailers play at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts for the Amandla festival in support of southern Africa’s freedom fighters. Bob Marley and the Wailers perform once at Jamaica’s famous Reggae Sunsplash in Montego Bay. Bob Marley and the Wailers begin a grueling seven-week world tour in support of the album Survival.
A Higher Place
Bob Marley and the Wailers perform to a record-breaking 100,000 fans in Milan; there were more in attendance than the Pope had the week before. Zimbabwe gains it’s independence from England. Bob is invited to headline the Independence Day celebrations in Harare, Zimbabwe. He spends his own money to bring lights and stage equipment as Zimbabwe hasn’t hosted a live concert in over 20 years. Uprising is released, and includes the worldwide hit Could You Be Loved. Bob collapses while jogging in Central Park and a brain tumor is diagnosed. Still, he continues to the next show venue. Bob chooses to be baptized in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition and is given the name Berhane Selassie which means “light of the trinity.“ Bob Marley and the Wailers play their last concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Stanley Theater, with a phenomenal and unforgettable performance by Bob that included two encores. The Uprising tour is cancelled. Bob flies to Miami and then later to Germany to begin a course of cancer treatments.
Friends and family come to Germany to celebrate Bob’s 36th birthday. Robert Nesta Marley is awarded Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit (O.M.). Bob is awarded Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit (O.M.). His official title, Robert Nesta Marley O.M. Bob returns from Germany on a chartered plane and is admitted to Miami Cedars Sinai Hospital. Surrounded by family, Bob’s physical form passes from this Earth. Robert Nesta Marley’s state funeral service is held at Jamaica’s National Arena in Kingston and concluded in Nine Miles, Jamaica.