As I was reading the book Catch a Fire by Timothy White I discovered many things that I didn’t know about Bob Marley. This book was very informative on how Marley got started in the music business.
Robert Nesta Marley was born of February 6, 1945 in a small village called Nine Miles. Bob’s father Norval Marley was a white Jamaican and a Captain in the Army. When Bob was young his mother and father got a divorce.
When Bob was only 16 he produced his first record in Kingston. In 1963 the original Wailers were formed, the group consisted of Bob Marley, Bunny Livingstone and Peter Tosh. They produced many songs such as, “Judge Not” and “Simmer Down” which were both instant number one songs in Jamaica. Around 1973 two of the original Wailers wanted out of the band. They felt that the touring schedule was to much for them, so Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh quit. It didn’t take long for Bob to find new people to replace the original band members. He found Aston an accomplished bass player, Carlton to play the drums and he brought in a trio of female back up vocalists called the I-Threes, one of which was his wife Rita.
In Jamaica Bob was viewed as a mystic and prophet, and becoming very popular in Jamaica. The Prime Minister asked Bob Marley to stage a free concert on the same day as the National election. By doing this he knew he had the support of Bob Marley and his followers. This dangerous move resulted in an attempt on Marley’s life. On the evening of December 3, a number of gunmen arrived at Bobs house on 56 Hope Road and shot Bob, his wife Rita, and his manager. These gunmen were thought to be the henchmen of the opposition leader Edward Seaga. Luckily nobody was killed and Bob went ahead with the planned concert defiantly appearing with his arm in a sling.
The next year Bob had canceled the last few dates of a big European tour when Doctors diagnosed him with melanoma cancer in his big toe. This was a result of a neglected football injury. Football was one of Bobs other favorite pass time and recreational hobbies other than music.
In Jamaica the gunmen leaders of the two warring political factions approached Bob and asked him to perform at a concert marking a truce between them. The concert was titled “One Love” peace concert. This took place on April 22, 1978. During the concert Bob persuaded the Prime Minister Manley and opposition leader Seaga to join him on stage where they shook hands. This was an incredible event in Jamaica at that time. As a result of bringing the two people together, Marley received the United Nations Peace Medal in New York that following June of 1979.
In September of 1980, Bob was running in Central Park, New York when he collapsed. The doctors told him that the cancer that was in his toe had moved up into his lungs and brain. Despite the news he flew to Pittsburgh where on September 23, 1980 he performed his last concert at the Stanley Theater. Bob was treated in New York. Bob wanted to end his last days in Jamaica, but he was so ill that he had to check into a Miami hospital where he died on May 11, 1981. They returned his body to Jamaica where it was placed in a specially constructed mausoleum at his birthplace, Nine Miles.
This book, Catch a Fire was very insightful about the life of Bob Marley and well written. The book reviewed Bob’s life as a musician, artist and peace maker.