Bob Marley’s career stretched over twenty years. He was one of the most influential artists in music history. He has been called “the first Third World superstar” and “the Rasta Prophet.” His words and music inspired people in the 1960s and they inspire people now. Marley’s career began to take flight in 1964. As a founding member of a group called the Wailing Wailers, he enjoyed success with his first hit on the Jamaican charts. In the next several years, the Wailing Wailers released enough music to turn them into one of the most popular groups in Jamaica. Unfortunately, the dynamic of the group was becoming hard to keep together. After a couple of the members left, Marley decided to join his mother in the United States. He was only in the U.S. for a brief period of time before he went back to Jamaica to rejoin Peter McIntosh and Bunny Livingston, two members of the Wailing Wailers. The Wailers were back on top of the charts by the end of the 1960s.
Marley’s spiritual Rastafarian beliefs had a great impact on his music; in fact it was always at the core. In 1972, the Wailers signed to Island Records. This was a huge step for them. It was revolutionary because they were a reggae band signing with an international record company. The Wailer's first album, “Catch A Fire,” was groundbreaking. It was packaged well and promoted extensively. In 1975, Bob Marley & The Wailers released the amazing “Natty Dread” album and toured Europe during the following summer. The shows were recorded and turned into a live album which, along with the single of “No Woman No Cry”, made the UK charts. In 1977, “Exodus” was released. This album sealed Marley’s fate as an international superstar. “Exodus” remained on the British charts for 56 weeks. Marley had many hits after that as well.
In 1978, Marley returned to Jamaica. He had been gone since 1976 when a shooting almost claimed his life. In 1976, he visited Africa for the very first time. In 1980, he returned to Africa for the official initiation of the Government of Zimbabwe; he played at the country’s Independence Ceremony. This was a huge honor. Bob Marley & The Wailers went to America after the European tour. They played two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. After that, however, Marley was diagnosed with cancer; he fought the disease for eight months. Sadly, the disease claimed his life on May 11, 1981.
Bob Marley’s music and the music of the Wailers was and is amazing. The music signifies social change. Marley was a man who cared about politics. He also cared about people and he represented quite a bit, especially in the Third World. Many of his songs deal with injustice and discrimination and they are all incredible. He was a hero because his songs were ballads that spoke to the heart of issues others were afraid to mention.