To be able to pay testament to the exceptional influence of Bob Marley’s artistry on the world is simply impossible to achieve in one feature.
Ups and Downs
The Jamaican singer and songwriter that we all know and love began his professional career with a group called Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1963. It would be their debut album, The Wailing Wailers, that would first birth “One Love/People Get Ready” into the world, though the most popular version was released much later in 1977. The Wailers produced another 11 studio albums before disbanding in 1974, making way for Marley’s solo career to shine through.
Marley’s first solo albums Natty Dread (1974), Rastaman Vibration (1976) and Exodus (1977) all did hugely well, and were received with great critical acclaim! Although, it was just before the Exodus album that Bob survived an attempt as his assassination, where seven armed men raided his home in Jamaica. The attack was linked with the political situation at the time, with two parties both vying for Marley’s highly regarded support. Even though he was shot, Marley somehow survived, and was able to relocate to London for his safety.
The Highest Honour
Many have attempted to give Marley the credit that he deserves with his work, with “One Love” being named Song of the Millennium by the BBC, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and number 11 on the Rolling Stone “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
The Nation of Jamaica awarded him the fourth-highest honour that they can give, an Order of Merit, given only to those who have achieved eminent international distinction in their field. The award can only be held by 15 living people at a time!
Perhaps the highest honour that we can bestow on a favourite artist of ours, is with the inclusion on our syllabi! You’ll find Marley blessing the cover of our Acoustic Guitar Grade 1 books, with his “Redemption Song” featured inside. This absolutely iconic solo for acoustic guitar is the perfect challenge for a grade 1 player, with the opening motif requiring melodic precision, and the chords throughout bringing some welcome chord practice.
“Redemption Song” is the final track on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 12th studio album, Uprising. Written in 1979, some of the song’s lyrics are derived from a speech that was made by one of Marley’s Pan-Africanist idols, Marcus Garvey. Ever the political activist, campaigning for social change within his lyrics, Marley even wrote the song knowing that he had been diagnosed with cancer that would threaten, and eventually succeed, in taking his life at the young age of 36. “Redemption Song” has been hailed as one of the most political and yet deeply affecting songs of all time.
A quote from Marley’s website sums this up perfectly, stating that his music “identified oppressors and agitated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance”. We think there is no better summary than this. We love you, Bob!If you aren't caught up on the most recent Artists in Focus, then what are you waiting for?! Read more about Coldplay, Ariana Grande and Earth, Wind & Fire.