On December 29, 1982, Jamaica issued its first Bob Marley postage stamp to honor the life and achievements of the Jamaican singer, songwriter, musician, activist, and cultural icon who brought the island’s music to the world and raised Jamaica’s profile on the international stage.
He started his legendary career with The Wailers and created a distinctive style of singing and songwriting that resonated with a global audience. Marley and The Wailers made some of the earliest reggae recordings with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.
The Wailers disbanded in 1974, prompting Marley to pursue a solo career in the United Kingdom. His move resulted in the release of the “Exodus” album in 1977. With this album, Marley received worldwide recognition and solidified his position as one of the best-selling artists in history, attaining sales of over 75 million records. The album remained on the British album charts for 56 weeks in a row. “Exodus” included four singles that were hits in the UK as well: “Exodus”, “Waiting in Vain”, “Jamming”, and “One Love”. He released the album “Kaya” in 1978. This album included his hit singles “Is This Love” and “Satisfy My Soul.”
Marley was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma in 1977 and died on May 11, 1981 in Miami at the age of 36.
Marley was a committed Rastafari and infused his music with spirituality. Marley believed in the unity of African people worldwide. His views were influenced by his Rastafari beliefs and inspired by Pan-African advocate Marcus Garvey. His songs often reflected these beliefs.
He married Alpharita Constantia “Rita” Anderson in Kingston in February 1966. He had numerous children: four with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita’s previous relationships, and several others with different women. According to Marley’s official website, he had 11 children.
Marley is arguably one of the most influential musicians in history and is credited with making reggae music popular around the world. He has also become strongly identified with Jamaica’s culture and identity.
He was given a state funeral in Jamaica on May 21, 1981, which combined traditions of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafarianism. He is buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his guitar.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Edward Seaga stated in the eulogy that “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”