Who is Bob Marley?
Bob Marley was a Jamaican musician, singer and songwriter. He has been credited as one of the biggest pioneers of reggae music. During his life, Bob Marley was considered a global symbol of Jamaican music, culture and identity.
Bob Marley’s full name is Robert Nesta Marley. He was born on February 6, 1945, in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Colony of Jamaica to his parents, Norval Sinclair Marley (father) and Cedella Booker (mother). Bob Marley’s name “Nesta” means “wise messenger”.
About Bob Marley’s parents
Bob Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker was a Jamaican singer and author. Her full name is Sidilla Editha Booker. She was born on July 23, 1926, in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica. Cedella Booker’s parents were Albertha Wilby (mother) and Omeriah Malcolm (father). Booker’s grandfather was a descendant of slaves shipped to Jamaica from Ghana (formerly known as the Gold Coast). Cedella Booker married Bob Marley’s father, Norval Sinclair Marley when she was just 18 years old. Upon his death, Cedella Booker married Thaddeus Livingston, the father of Bunny Livingston (Bob Marley’s bandmate) and they had a daughter together called Claudette Pearl.
She later married Edward Booker, an American civil servant and they lived together in Delaware, the United States. When Edward Booker died in 1976, Cedella Booker moved to Miami, Florida where she lived until her death. Cedella Booker died in her sleep from natural causes on April 8, 2008. She was 81 years old at the time of her death.
Norval Sinclair Marley – Bob Marley’s father
Bob Marley’s father, Norval Sinclair Marley was a White Jamaican man of English and possibly Jewish descent. He was born in 1885 in East Sussex, England. Norval Sinclair Marley got married to Cedella Booker when he was 59 years old and she was just 18. Norval Sinclair Marley worked as a plantation overseer at the time. Although he supported his family financially, he rarely saw them. He died of a heart attack in 1955 at the age of 70. Bob Marley was just 10 years old at the time of his father’s death.
About Bob Marley’s siblings
Though Bob Marley was the only child of his parents – Norval Sinclair Marley (1885–1955) and Cedella Booker (1926–2008) – he had four half-siblings from his parents’ other affairs (three from his mother and one from his father’s side).
Marley had two half-brothers from his mother’s marriage to Edward Booker named Richard Booker and Anthony Booker. He also had a half-sister from his mother’s marriage to Taddeus Livingston named Claudette Pearl Livingston.
From his father’s side, he had a sister called Constance Marley.
a. Richard Booker
Richard Booker is Bob Marley’s half-brother. In December 2011, the Marley family sued Richard Booker and several affiliated companies for trademark and copyright violation for use of late Bob Marley’s name and other intellectual property without authorization. Booker responded, stating that he was heartbroken by the lawsuit. He filed a countersuit, claiming that Bob Marley had granted him permission to use his name and images. This led to both sides agreeing to settle out of court. At the time, Richard Booker’s lawyer, Michael Santucci said:
“This is a very sensitive case because the legacy of a great man and his family are at stake. From what I have learned about Bob Marley, he would be very happy, especially now that his family is at peace. Both parties were happy with the settlement.”
b. Anthony Booker
Anthony Booker is Bob Marley’s half-brother. In 1990, Anthony Booker died in a shootout with Miami police officers. He was 19 years old at the time. According to reports seen by DNB Stories Africa, Anthony Booker was walking around the Cutler Ridge Mall in Miami, waving a shotgun. Booker was also said to have fired a shot in the Mall’s parking lot before the police shot back. He died of gunshot wounds.
c. Claudette Pearl Livingston
Claudette Pearl Livingston is Bob Marley’s half-sister. She was born in 1964 in Wilmington, Delaware, United States. She is currently 58 years old. Pearl Livingston is also a singer.
d. Constance Marley
Constance Marley is Bob Marley’s half-sister from his father’s other relationship. Constance suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – a nerve disorder that causes intense pain and swelling. Constance Marley is the mother of celebrity chef and Emmy-nominated actor Charles Mattocks. In 2016, Mattocks released a film about his mother’s struggle with CRPS titled “Trial by Fire”.
About Bob Marley’s marriage and wedding
During his life, Bob Marley was only legally married to Rita Marley. However, he was involved in several extramarital affairs which bore him other children. Bob and Rita Marley tied the knot in 1966. They had three children together. Marley also adopted two of Rita’s children from her previous relationships.
List of Bob Marley’s girlfriends
- Bob Marley married Rita Marley in 1966.
- Bob Marley dated Pat Williams and they had a son together.
- Bob Marley dated Janet Hunt and they had a son together.
- Bob Marley dated Janet Bowen and they had a daughter together.
- Bob Marley dated London woman Lucy Pounder and they had a son together.
- Bob Marley dated Jamaican table tennis champion, Anita Belnavis and they had a son together.
- Bob Marley dated Jamaican beauty queen, Cindy Breaksphere and they had a son together.
About Bob Marley’s marriage to Rita Marley
Rita Marley (born Alpharita Constantia Anderson) is a Cuban-born Jamaican singer. She was born on July 25, 1946, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. However, she originally hails from Kingston, Jamaica. Her parents were Leroy Anderson and Cynthia Jarrett.
Rita Marley met Bob Marley in the mid-1960s. After finding out that she could sing, Rita Marley was asked to audition for “The Soulettes”, a musical group that was mentored and managed by Bob Marley’s group, “The Wailers” (which included Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh). Through working together in close proximity, Rita Marley and Bob Marley fell in love.
They got married on February 10, 1966, in Kingston, Jamaica. At the time of their marriage, Bob Marley was 21 years old and Rita Marley was 19. The day after their wedding, Bob Marley moved to Wilmington, Delaware, United States to work at the Dupont Hotel there. Later on, he sent for Rita Marley who then joined him in Delaware where he (Bob Marley) was staying with his mother, Cedella Booker. During the early years of their marriage, Bob and Rita Marley travelled between Jamaica and the United States while making music and starting a family together.
It is a well-known fact that Bob Marley was involved in several extramarital affairs. In her autobiography, “No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley”, Rita Marley described the pain she felt due to her husband’s infidelity. However, she remained married to Bob Marley until his death in 1981.
While promoting her book, “No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley” in 2004, Rita Marley alleged that Bob Marley raped her in 1974. She narrated that she had refused to have sex with Marley because of his infidelity but he did not listen and forced his way on her.
She reportedly said:
“Bob wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said to me, ‘You’re my wife, you’re supposed to.’ So he forced himself on me, and I can call that rape.”
Rita Marley later said that she had been misquoted by the sensationalist news outlet that published the story.
In 2005, Rita Marley planned to have Bob Marley’s corpse exhumed and brought to Ethiopia. She added that she wanted it to be a month-long celebration of what should have been Bob Marley’s 60th birthday. The area where Rita Marley wanted to bury Bob Marley was a Rastafari community which she described as Marley’s spiritual resting place. Rita Marley also claimed that she was backed by the Ethiopian government to make the move.
“We are working on bringing his remains to Ethiopia. It is part of Bob’s own mission. Ethiopia is his spiritual resting place. With the 60th anniversary this year, the impact is there and the time is right.”
After Bob Marley’s death, Rita Marley never remarried. Rather, she adopted more than 30 children in Ethiopia and has been involved with Bob Marley’s foundations and several charities started in his honour to date.
About Bob Marley’s relationship with Cindy Breaksphere
Cindy Breaksphere (born Cynthia Jean Cameron Breaksphere) is a Canadian-Jamaican jazz singer, musician and beauty queen. She is popularly known for being crowned Miss World in 1976 and for being one of Bob Marley’s girlfriends.
Bob Marley met Cindy Breaksphere at 56 Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica, where the Bob Marley Museum is now located. “The Wailers” rehearsed at the back of the building where Breaksphere lived and so she and Marley soon became friends. They started a relationship about a year before Breaksphere entered the Miss World Pageant.
Breaksphere has previously made statements that suggested she played a role in making Bob Marley famous. Speaking about her relationship with Bob Marley, Cindy Breaksphere said:
“When I met him and began to know him, he was on the brink of stardom. He supported me going to Miss World which has a big profile. Bob was not a household name then, but that changed after I won Miss World and the press got wind of our relationship.”
Cindy Breaksphere had a relationship with Bob Marley that began in 1975 and lasted until Marley’s death in 1981. During the course of their relationship, Cindy Breaksphere and Bob Marley had a son together named Damian Marley.
Breaksphere married a Jamaican senator, Tom Tavares-Finson in 1981 and they had 2 children together. However, they split in 1985. Breaksphere then married Rupert Bent II in 1999 and they are still together to date.
About Bob Marley’s religious beliefs and Rastafari movement
During his life, Bob Marley was a member of the Rastafari movement. The Rastafari movement was key in the development of reggae music. Rastafari (also known as Rastafarianism) is a religion that developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. Rastafari beliefs are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible. The Rastafari God is referred to as Jah. Rastas accord importance to Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. Many regard him as the Second Coming of Christ and Jah incarnate while others see him as a human prophet who fully recognized Jah’s presence in every individual.
In 1966, Bob Marley converted to Rastafarianism from Catholicism. In 1968, he was arrested after being caught with cannabis. Despite this, Marley continued to use marijuana in accordance with his religious beliefs. As a Rastafarian, Bob Marley supported the legalisation of cannabis which many Rastafarians believe is an aid to meditation.
Speaking about his use of marijuana, Bob Marley said:
“When you smoke herb, herb reveal yourself to you. All the wickedness you do, the herb reveal itself to yourself, your conscience, show up yourself clear, because herb help you meditate. Is only a natural t’ing and it grow like a tree.”
Marley believed that marijuana usage was vital to the worship of Jah and religious growth. Marley was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on November 4, 1980, shortly before his death. He was then given the name, Berhane Salassie.
About Bob Marley’s kids
Bob Marley had many children. He had three children with his wife, Rita Marley and adopted two from Rita’s previous relationships. He had several other children from his multiple relationships with other women outside his marriage.
While reports suggest Bob Marley might have had more kids, the reggae legend only acknowledged 11 children. Marley’s 11 children came from 7 different women.
List of Bob Marley’s children
- Sharon Marley Prendergast.
- Cedella Marley Minto.
- David Nesta Marley.
- Stephen Marley.
- Robert Marley.
- Rohan Anthony Marley.
- Karen Marley.
- Stephanie Marley.
- Julian Ricardo Marley.
- Ky-Mani Marley.
- Damian Robert Nesta Marley.
Other sources have noted some other individuals also reported to be Bob Marley’s offspring. They include:
- Imani Carole. She was born on May 22, 1963, to Cheryl Murray. She does not appear on Bob Marley’s website.
- Makeda Jahnesta Marley. She was born on May 30, 1981, to Yvette Crichton, after Marley’s death. She also is not listed as one of Bob Marley’s children on his official website.
About Bob Marley’s children
1. Sharon Marley Prendergast
Sharon Marley Prendergast is a Jamaican singer, songwriter, dancer and curator. She was born on November 23, 1964, and is currently 57 years old. She is the daughter of Rita Marley and her previous lover but was adopted by Bob Marley upon his marriage to Rita. She was in the musical group “Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers” along with her younger siblings. Sharon Marley Prendergast was previously married to Jamaican football official, Peter Prendergast. She is currently married to Ghanaian musician, Ekow Alabi Savage.
2. Cedella Marley Minto
Cedella Marley Minto is a Jamaican singer. She was born August 23, 1967, in Kingston, Jamaica to Bob Marley and Rita Marley. She is currently 55 years old. Cedella Marley Minto is the mother of Skip Marley, a Jamaican singer.
3. Ziggy Marley
Ziggy Marley is a Jamaican singer, songwriter, musician, actor and philanthropist. His full name is David Nesta Marley. He was born on October 17, 1968, to Bob Marley and Rita Marley. He is an eight-time Grammy Award winner and is currently 54 years old. He is currently married to an Israeli woman called Orly Agai and they have four children together.
4. Stephen Marley
Stephen Marley is a Jamaican musician. He was born on April 20, 1972, in Wilmington, Delaware, United States to Bob Marley and Rita Marley. He is currently 50 years old.
5. Robert ‘Robbie’ Marley
Robert “Robbie” Marley was born on May 16, 1972, to Bob Marley and Pat Williams. However, not much is currently known about him other than the fact that he is 50 years old.
6. Rohan Anthony Marley
Rohan Anthony Marley was born on May 19, 1972, to Janet Hunt and Bob Marley. He is a Jamaican entrepreneur and former football player. He was previously married to Geraldine Khawly and later on, to iconic rapper Lauryn Hill. Rohan Marley had 5 kids with Lauryn Hill before their divorce in 2009. He is currently married to a Brazilian model, Barbara Fialho.
7. Karen Marley
Karen Marley was born in 1973 to Bob Marley and Janet Bowen. Not much is currently known about her other than the fact that she is 49 years old.
8. Stephanie Marley
Stephanie Marley was born on August 17, 1975. According to Bob Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker, Stephanie Marley is the daughter of Rita Marley and a man called Ital, with whom Rita had an affair. Stephanie Marley is acknowledged as Bob Marley’s daughter. She is the director of Marley’s vacation homes, resorts and spas.
9. Julian Ricardo Marley
Julian Marley was born on June 4, 1975, to Bob Marley and Lucy Pounder. He is a British-Jamaican reggae musician, songwriter, producer and humanitarian. He is a Rastafarian like his father. Julian Marley is currently 47 years old.
10. Ky-Mani Marley
Ky-Mani Marley was born on February 26, 1976, to Bob Marley and Anita Belnavis. He is a Jamaican singer and is currently 46 years old.
11. Damian Marley
Damian Robert Nesta Marley (also known as Jr. Gong) was born on July 21, 1978, to Bob Marley and Cindy Breaksphere. He is a Jamaican DJ and rapper. At the time of his father’s death, Damian Marley was just 2 years old. Damian Marley is currently 44 years old.
About Bob Marley’s death
In July 1977, Bob Marley was diagnosed with malignant melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) under a toenail. It was a symptom of already existing cancer. A biopsy confirmed that it was acral lentiginous melanoma. Unlike other types of melanoma which usually occur on skin exposed to the sun, acral lentiginous melanoma occurs in places that are easy to miss such as the soles of the feet or underneath a toenail.
Marley rejected the doctors’ advice to have the toe amputated, citing religious reasons. If the toe had been amputated, it would have hindered Marley’s performing career. And so, he opted to have the nail and nail bed removed and a skin graft was taken from his thigh to cover the area.
Marley and his band continued to tour Europe. After the tour, Bob Marley returned to the United States where he performed two shows in New York City. While jogging in Central Park, New York City, Bob Marley collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, where it was discovered that cancer had spread to his brain, lungs and liver.
Marley’s last concert took place in Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The rest of the tour was cancelled due to Bob Marley’s rapidly deteriorating health. Marley then sought treatment at the Josef Issels clinic in Bavaria, Germany, where he tried alternative cancer treatment for eight months but to no avail. Marley then boarded a plane back home to Jamaica.
However, during the flight, Marley’s condition worsened. He was then taken to the University of Miami Hospital for emergency care. He died on May 11, 1981, due to the spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain. His last words to his son, David Marley (also known as Ziggy Marley) were, “Money can’t buy life”.
At the time of his death, Bob Marley was 36 years old.