Happy 70th Birthday to the KING OF REGGAE -Bob Marley
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By Jason Walker
Robert Nesta Marley would be 70 years old in 2015. 44 years after his death, Marley resonates powerfully around the world with messages of upliftment, Panafricanism, Rastafarianism, freedom, truth, love, peace, and all things positive.
Born in 1945 (the end of World War 2), passing away in 1981, Marley, along with the two other famous Wailers, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer sold tens of millions of records, that are still selling today. They inspired people to fight for their rights, and had music that became the anthems for the freedom fighters around the world, such as the anti-apartheid groups in South Africa and the Independence movements in Poland and Zimbabwe. That Tosh penned “Get Up Stand Up” is a great example of such.
The accomplishments and the people affected by Marley, his words and his music is the topic of volumes of books and more and new revelations come about every day. As if living out the prophetic words of the song “Bad Card”, “Them a Go Tired fi see mi face”, Marley has fathered several talented children who not only look a lot like their famous father but more importantly are having a powerful impact on the world and continuing the message of the King to this day, and it seems his grandchildren are also growing into a new generation of talented musicians who are also keeping up the good work.
There will be concerts playing tribute to Marley all day on this day, there will be radio programs and TV shows that will be doing tribute to the great artist, as it should be. All this makes me reflect to 1963 when a 15 year old girl by the name of Beverly Kelso and her 15 year old friend Junior Braithwaite had come together to convince three 18-year-olds in their tenement yard to start a singing group. The three 18-year-olds were the recently moved from St. Anns into Kingston Robert Nesta Marley, Hubert McIntosh (Peter Tosh) and Robert Livingston (Bunny Wailer).
I wonder what was in the minds of these young aspiring talents as they named themselves the Teenagers and in a very short period had already caught the attention of legendary producer and sound system operator Sir Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. Dodd would combine the Teenagers with another teenage group called the Soulettes which comprised of then Rita Anderson who would marry Bob eventually, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, who would become the I-Threes, and a band in Coxsone’s studio called the Wailers. Junior Braithwaite was made lead singer of the new Wailers, because his voice was Dodd’s favourite, Peter and Bob mainly harmonized on lead vocals, wrote songs and played instruments, the ladies also harmonized.
The Wailers actually scored major hits such as a version of “One Love” that most today might not recognize and even worked with some of the top bands of the day, Although riding high, just a year after Kelso had put the group together the now 16 year olds Kelso and Braithwaite were pulled from the group for their families were moving to America and they were not old enough to decide their own fates yet. This forced Dodd to move Bob to the forefront of the group. As history would show that move worked out well.
I wonder what was in the mind of these teenage youth who came from abject poverty to shine in international stardom and inspire millions worldwide. I wonder what Bob would have thought if someone had told him then about the trajectory of his career. Maybe it is better that they did not know, it might have affected the decisions made throughout.
The king left us at the young age of 36, but his legacy still lives on and most likely will live on for generations to come. The king has influenced so many to have a commitment to conscious music, and to also take the music, their impact and their career seriously. “There are so many things to say right now”, I could go on for volumes, but I want to keep it simple, listen to some Wailers, Teenagers and of course Bob Marley as I celebrate the 70 years of Marley.
Jason Walker is a freelance writer for various publications who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at email@example.com
Jason Walker25 Posts
Patriot, Jamaican, Caribbean, Pan African, Humanist, Radio Personality, DJ. I have worked over 20 years as a Journalist for Caribbean Today Magazine, WRFG Radio 89.3 FM, Cross Over Media and several media outlets in the Caribbean and the US.