Posts Tagged ‘Rita Marley

07
Feb
10

A Tribute To A True Revolutionary – Bob Marley (Article, Albums & Downloads)

R.I.P.

A Tribute to a True Revolutionary

Originally published February 2007, © Rutgers University, Daily TargumInside Beat

Bob Marley’s genius extended far beyond music. On his 65th birthday, we celebrate..

Words can hardly express the significance of Bob Marley’s influence nor can they begin to describe the impact of his life that remains over 25 years after his passing.  The reggae superstar used music to unify, uplift, and inspire an entire generation.  His music was simple yet poignant; it transcended the barriers of race, class structure, and even language.  No other recording artist to date has been able to secure international stardom while at the same time remaining loyal to a straightforward mission of equality, peace, and love.

 Jamaican Roots

Get up, stand up/ Stand up for your rights
Get up, stand up/ Don’t give up the fight

-“Get Up, Stand Up,” 1973

Born Robert Nesta Marley on February 6, 1945 in Saint Ann, Jamaica to a white father and black mother, he was challenged from day one.  His father Norval Marley, a quartermaster in the British navy and wealthy landowner, rarely saw his son and left him in the sole care of his mother, Cedella Booker.  Marley experienced poverty and racial prejudice (since he was biracial) as he grew up in Trenchtown, a slummy village in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica.  Inhabitants of Trenchtown were viewed as neglected by Jamaican society.  Although Marley garnered the nickname “Tuff Gong” from friends due to his physical strength, the consciousness he gained shaped his character and would ultimately guide his lifelong energy.

After meeting a fellow street youth named Neville O’Riley Livingston, or “Bunny,” Marley became interested in music.  He and Bunny tuned into American radio, which exposed them to acts like Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield, and followed the emerging Jamaican R&B scene.  Marley dropped out of school at 14 and, although he took up an apprenticeship with a welder, his true life passion was to make music.

In pursuit of his dream, Marley began practicing and attending informal sessions run by a famous Jamaican singer named Joe Higgs.  After impressing a local entrepreneur named Leslie Kong with his vocal ability, Marley wrote and recorded his first songs, “Judge Not,” “Terror,” and “One Cup of Coffee,” which marked the start of an extraordinary musical vision.

Rude Boy Wailin’

One good thing about music
When it hits, you feel no pain

-“Trenchtown Rock,” 1973

When his solo tracks received little airplay on Jamaican radio, Marley decided he could gain more exposure in a group.  Along with Bunny and another aspiring musician named Peter McIntosh whom Marley met during Higgs’ jam sessions in addition to a few backup singers, Marley formed The Wailers in 1963.  The group’s first single, “Simmer Down,” climbed to No. 1 on the Jamaican charts in early 1964 and established The Wailers’ unique reggae sound, a combination of tough street rhythm and urban vigor, on the Jamaican scene.

As The Wailers gained a national reputation, Marley’s mother resided in Delaware and had saved up enough money to fly her son to America.  In 1966, the group faced adversity and all but Marley, Bunny and McIntosh dropped out.  At the same time, Marley married Rita Anderson and reunited with his mother in America.  His stay in the States was brief, just long enough to gather finances needed to continue his passion, and Marley returned to Jamaica in October 1966.

R.I.P.

Rastaman Vibration

I’m a living man, I’ve got work to do
If you’re not happy, then you must be blue

-“Soul Rebel,” 1970 

Upon his return to home soil, Marley became increasingly attracted to the growing Rastafarian movement.  The Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, visited Jamaica while Marley was gone and inspired this religious development.  Rita Marley saw Selassie and converted to Rastafarianism, which Bob would soon adopt as well.  This sentiment was echoed throughout his music – the Wailers’ style drifted away from its gritty street roots to spirituality and social awareness.  This conflicted with the vision of their record label Coxsone Dodd, so the group departed to record with innovative reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry

During the Perry sessions, the group recorded reggae classics such as “Soul Rebel” and “400 Years.”  Two of Perry’s studio musicians, Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother Carlton then joined The Wailers.  The group released several albums with Perry, including Soul Rebel and Soul Revolution.  By the early 1970s, Jamaica had fully embraced their ground-breaking sound.  It was perfect timing to expand to an international audience.

The World Catches Fire

What we need is love, to guide and protect us on
If you hope good down from above, help the weak if you are strong

-“No More Trouble,” 1973 

The Wailers pursued an invitation to a London-based label in 1971, but were dropped before even releasing a single.  In desperation, Marley approached Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who was instrumental in exposing Europe to Jamaican reggae.  Blackwell offered The Wailers a record deal with Island, which gave them access to state-of-the-art recording facilities that no other reggae band had ever used before.

The result was the group’s 1973 major label debut Catch a Fire, an international hit album and the most innovative reggae composition of its time.  Catch a Fire addressed social and political topics with a captivating optimism – tracks like “Concrete Jungle” and “No More Trouble” embodied Marley’s view that all people could rise above struggle.  The album’s biggest hit was “Stir It Up,” a sensual love song where Bob’s vocals gently soothed the listener.  Catch a Fire began Marley’s successful tenure on Island and catapulted him to international star statusn but led to another identity change for The Wailers.

One Love

One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right

-“One Love / People Get Ready,” 1977

After short tours throughout Europe and the United States, The Wailers went back to the studio to release Burnin’, an LP that included re-recordings of older songs in addition to new hits like “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot The Sheriff.” Epic rock guitarist Eric Clapton’s version of the latter made it to the top of U.S. singles charts and increased Marley’s widespread fame.

Shortly after Burnin’, Bunny and McIntosh left to pursue solo careers.  Now known as Bob Marley & The Wailers and equipped with a female trio of backup singers called the I-Threes that included Rita Marley, the group released Natty Dread in February of 1975.  “Revolution,” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry),”and “No Woman, No Cry,” the first hit single outside of Bob’s homeland, highlighted an album that showcased Marley’s committed stance of continuously revealing social inequality. 

The follow-up album, 1976’s Rastaman Vibration, experienced success in the U.S. with “Who The Cap Fit” and “War,” for which Marley borrowed words from a speech by Emperor SelassieMarley’s following among youth in Jamaica was widening, however he would soon be the target of a serious attack.

R.I.P.

Movement of Jah People

Open your eyes, look within
Are you satisfied with the life you’re livin’?

-“Exodus,” 1977

As Marley’s position as an international music star progressed, his political influence increased tenfold.  Each time the group went on tour, their message spread quicker than wild fire throughout impoverished Jamaican youth and international audiences alike. 

Although fans idolized the musician, some individuals viewed him as a threat.  In late 1976, as he prepared for a free concert organized by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Michael Manley, unidentified gunmen assaulted and wounded Marley, Rita, and their manager Don Taylor inside the musician’s home.  It is thought that the confrontation was politically-motivated; they recovered quickly and performed as scheduled despite the scare.

In early 1977, Marley departed to England to record two of his most highly-praised albums, Exodus and Kaya.  The former stayed on U.K. charts for over a year and peaked at #20 on U.S. pop charts on the strength of top-selling hits in “Jamming,” “One Love / People Get Ready,” and “Waiting In Vain” in addition to feel-good melodies in “Three Little Birds” and “Natural Mystic.”  The latter focused more on reggae ballads including “Satisfy My Soul” and “Is This Love,” which offered a glimpse into the singer’s more intimate side. 

TIME magazine referred to Exodus as the best album of the 20th century in 1998, and many critics believe it to be the climax of Marley’s career.  In 1978, at the “One Love Peace Concert” in Jamaica, Marley’s impact became clearly evident as he united leaders from the two rival political parties, Prime Minister Manley and Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga, onstage to embrace in a handshake.  Marley had fully recovered from the attack and accomplished what no other artist had ever done – used music to successfully resolve political differences.

Uprising for Survival

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds

-“Redemption Song,” 1980

Marley’s final two albums, Survival and Uprising, contrasted in meaning but proved that international achievements were never more important than his message behind the music.  1979’s Survival was fierce and political while 1980’s Uprising was intensely spiritual.  Inspired by a visit to Africa, Survival begged the continent to unify on “Zimbabwe,” “So Much Trouble In The World,” and “Africa Unite.” 

A stop in Ethiopia led to Uprising, a very personal and religious album where Marley’s lyrics reflected his spiritual journey on the worldwide hit “Could You Be Loved” and the acoustic masterpiece “Redemption Song.”  The album appeared on international music charts, acted as motivation for a major European tour, and also led to plans for an American tour with Stevie WonderMarley started the American tour at Madison Square Garden, but fell seriously ill after only two performances.

A toe injury suffered three years earlier in England caused his illness.  Due to his Rastafarian beliefs, Marley refused to have his toe amputated when it became infected and, soon thereafter, cancerous.  As the cancer spread throughout his body, Marley struggled to survive using non-toxic medication but the disease would prove to be overwhelming.  On his way back to Jamaica, Marley passed away in Miami on May 11, 1981 at the age of 36.  His final words were simply, “Money can’t buy life.”

The Legend Lives On

Good friends we’ve had
Oh, good friends we’ve lost along the way

In this great future, you can’t forget your past
So dry your tears, I say

-““No Woman, No Cry”,” 1975

Though his human voice has been forever silenced, Bob Marley’s legacy remains fully intact and has influenced a generation of music enthusiasts to continue the spread of his message.  He was inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in 1994 and posthumously received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. 

Still, it is the continuing popularity of his music that conveys Marley’s ideas of equality, unity, human rights, and spiritual encouragement.  There are countless compilation albums dedicated to spreading the rhythmic reggae that flowed from his soul.  He never wallowed in self-pity, instead opting to use his experience to expose the world to the reality of life in Third World nations like Jamaica.  “Marley wasn’t singing about how peace could come easily to the world but rather about how hell on earth comes too easily to too many,” Rolling Stone Magazine once wrote.

Marley spoke for the underrepresented, unfortunate, and impoverished.  His music was meant not just to understand but also to uplift, not just to inform but also to involve, and not just to symbolize but also to salvage.  Even in death, Bob Marley remained true to his beliefs and passion.  It is for these reasons that mere words could never pay tribute to the legend nor entirely embody the meaning for which he lived.

R.I.P.

 R.I.P. Robert Nesta Marley, February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981

Studio Albums:

The Wailing Wailers (1965) [Purchase] | Soul Rebels (1970) | Soul Revolution (1971) | Burnin’ (1973) | Catch a Fire (1973) | Natty Dread (1974) | Rastaman Vibration (1976) | Exodus (1977) | Kaya (1978) | Survival (1979) | Uprising  (1980)

Select Compilations:

Best Of | Songs of Freedom (1992) [Purchase] | Collectorama: The Kingston Years (2008) | One Love at Studio One (1964-66) [Purchase] | Legend (1984) [Purchase]

Select Rarities & Remixes:

Wail ‘n Soul’m Singles (2005) [Purchase] | Dreams of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub (1997) | Bob Marley & Friends – Chant Down Babylon (1999) [Purchase] | J. Period & K’naan Present – The Messengers: Bob Marley

Select Live Performances:

Live in Kingston, Jamaica with Stevie Wonder (1975) | Live! – 1975 [Purchase] | Live in Sausalito, CA 10/31/1973

Interview:

Marley Speaks (From the book Marley Legend)

R.I.P.

Advertisements




Corleone, Hold the Throne

E-Mail:

Twitter:

HipHopBlips Member Blog

Reviews

Sample Sets

Support The Artists

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Banner Design By