“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” ~Bob Marley
Happy Friday!! Wow! End of March already? Feels like it was just yesterday when I started groovin with Mister Marley. Music is food for the soul so I’ll be jammin’ with Bob long after March races on. If Mr. Marley is not your cup of tea, rock your favourite tune and dance, dance, dance!!
Already a much-admired star in his native Jamaica, Marley was on his way to becoming an international music icon. He made the U.S. music charts with the album Rastaman Vibration in 1976. One track stands out as an expression of his devotion to his faith and his interest in political change: “War.” The song’s lyrics were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie, the 20th century Ethiopian emperor who is seen as a type of a spiritual leader in the Rastafarian movement. A battle cry for freedom from oppression, the song discusses a new Africa, one without the racial hierarchy enforced by colonial rule.
Despite his love for country, after a failed assassination attempt in 1976, Bob Marley fled to London, England where he went to work on the Exodus album, which was released in 1977. The title track draws an analogy between the biblical story of Moses and the Israelites leaving exile and his own situation. The song also discusses returning to Africa. The concept of Africans and descendants of Africans repatriating their homeland can be linked to the work of Marcus Garvey. Released as a single, “Exodus” was a hit in Britain, as were “Waiting in Vain” and “Jamming,” and the entire album stayed on the U.K. charts for more than a year. Today, Exodus is considered to be one of the best albums ever made.
Sadly his success would be short lived. In 1977 Marley had a health scare after seeking treatment in July of that year for a toe he had injured earlier in the year. After discovering cancerous cells in his toe, doctors suggested amputation. Marley refused to have the surgery, because of his religious beliefs. A decision that would lead to Jamaica’s loss of an icon.
While flying home from Germany, where Marley was seeking treatment for Cancer, en route to Jamaica, his vital functions worsened. After landing in Miami, Florida, he was taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention. Bob Marley died on 11 May 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami (now University of Miami Hospital) at the age of 36. The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain was the cause of his untimely death. Marley’s final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.”
Bob Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on 21 May 1981, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition.
At the service, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga delivered the final funeral eulogy to Marley, declaring: “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”
Bob Marley maybe long gone, but his legacy lives on through the inherited talents of his children.