Bob Marley was a Jamaican musician who popularized reggae as a musical art and (by association) Rastafari as a religious movement throughout Jamaica and the world at large.
He was the lead singer for the Wailers, a Jamaican reggae and ska group which started in 1963 and lasted until 1974. During that time, Marley recorded many songs, both as a solo artist and in conjunction with the band, and many of those songs were released in the years following his death from cancer in 1981. Among his most well-known hits are "Get Up, Stand Up," "One Love," "I Shot the Sheriff," "Buffalo Soldier," "Redemption Song," "No Woman No Cry," and "Iron Lion Zion."
Among his posthumous achievements: He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, awarded the 2001 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and had a statue of his likeness erected at Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston, Jamaica. Additionally, he appears in several works of tourism-related art and across various media, including having an Expy, "Bob, the King of Reggae," in the Twin of Twins' "Stir It Up" dancehall series.
Marley's most recognizable physical feature is his dreadlocks hairstyle, which has since become synonymous with Jamaican culture and is a favorite hairstyle for several reggae and Jamaican dancehall artistes and also generally for both men and women worldwide.
- Badass Boast: "I'm gonna be iron like a lion in Zion!" "Hello, big tree, I am just a small axe."
- Concept Album: Survival, about apartheid in Africa and encouraging its population to fight against it.
- Creator Breakdown: The demo version of We And Dem, on which he can be heard on the verge of tears.
- Darker and Edgier: Done several times, on account of his varying between pop reggae and political reggae. Soul Rebels from 1970 is a much darker album than most of The Wailers' other records from the period. Catch A Fire is darker than most of his other Island albums. Survival from 1979 is a darker album than its predecessor Kaya, something which was intentional.
- Disappeared Dad: His father was a Royal Marine captain and was often away on trips; eventually he died of a heart attack when Bob was 10. Eventually Bob himself would become this for his children.
- Dreadlock Rasta: His song "Buffalo Soldier" is the Trope Namer.
- Executive Meddling: A good example. Chris Blackwell, head of Island Records, suggested Bob included the acoustic version of Redemption Song on Uprising instead of the band version. This ended up making the song feel much more poignant, and to be seen as a fitting 'goodbye' song. It also made it a stand out track on the album, leading to its release as a single, something which probably wouldn't have happened if the band version had been included.
- Genre Savvy: Bob knew that the stereotype of reggae music was happy, sunshine holiday music, and so recorded more poppy singles that sat alongside his more serious political work (an pre-Island example being Sugar Sugar and an Island example being Shine Jamaica and Three Little Birds). He even had the album Kaya mixed in that style, in the knowledge it would draw in fans for its highly political successor, Survival.
- Happily Married: To Rita Marley (nee Anderson) for 15 years up to the time of his death.
- In the Blood: Three of his children, Ky-Mani, Damian "Junior Gong" and David "Ziggy" Marley, went on to become well-known entertainers themselves.
- As did Stephen, who is considered to have the most Bob-like voice out of them but has recorded the least material.
- May-December Romance: Between his mother and father. She was 18, he was 50.
- Shout-Out: Frequently to Haile Selassie, including a translated version of a famous speech of his being the basis for War. He also does a shout out to his children in the Exodus outtake version of Keep On Moving (the basis for the 1995 single remix).
- Punky Reggae Party namechecks The Damned, The Jam, The Clash, Toots And The Maytals and Dr Feelgood. Bob wrote it after realising that punk and reggae share the same goal - speaking out against injustice.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: His songs were mostly on the idealistic side, encouraging people to treat each other equally. However, he was deeply cynical towards oppressors and usually encouraged people being persecuted to do whatever they could to stop it (as evidenced in the lyrics of War, which are a translated Haile Selassie speech). However his level of cynicism pales in comparison to his former bandmate Peter Tosh, who was so cynical it is one of his trademarks.
- This caused posthumous problems for him: Because of his religion, he believed that planning for his death would hasten it, and thus never wrote a will. This resulted in record companies keeping a large amount of the money from his music rather than giving it to the people of Jamaica as he had wished.
- Last words: "Money can't buy life."
- Small Reference Pools: Marley is still the most famous reggae singer. A downside of his fame to other reggae performers is that almost every reggae song known in existence has been attributed to him.
- Smoking Is Cool: There are quite a number of pictures that depict him smoking a joint of marijuana.
- But not as many as Peter Tosh, who is seen smoking it in almost every photograph.
- Take That: Did this a lot in his songs, primarily against racial inequality and subjugation of blacks.
- Title-Only Chorus: "No Woman No Cry" and "Redemption Song."
- Tragic Mulatto: According to his wife, he was often bullied by his peers as a child for being half-white.
- What Could Have Been: At one time he was considered for nomination as Jamaica's eighth National Hero. The idea was shot down very quickly.
- These days he would easily win this place. He is the reason the general public has heard of Jamaica.
- Your Cheating Heart: He had affairs with six different women during his marriage to Rita.
- He didn't shoot the deputy, though.