56 Hope Road
Robert Nesta Marley (Bob Marley) was born in 1945 to a white father and black mother. Though his father sent money, his dad was often absent and died of a heart attack when Bob was just 10 years old. Marley had a strong male role model in his maternal grandfather and family patriarch. I guess that explains why he seemed wise beyond his years. Bob’s grandfather passed away the year he turned 19 and the family became scattered. Bob would eventually land close to his mom in Delaware. For a time Marley worked as a lab assistant by day at DuPont while spending his nights at Chrysler as a fork lift operator.
Like many others I didn’t discover Bob Marley until after his death. I was a baby when he died of Melanoma in 1981. The Legend Album drew me in. Originally released on cassette in 1984, then released on CD in 1990, and as a teen I discovered it around 1994. I either bought it from Sam Goody or lifted it from my older brother’s collection. From there I graduated to catch a fire and survival.
“Concrete Jungle” still resonates loudly in the heart and minds of many today. “Darkness has covered my light and has changed my day into night. Where is the love to be found? . . . No chains around my feet but I’m not free. I know I am bound here in captivity.” Marley’s music career spanned just 19 years. In that timeframe Bob toured and touched down on 6 of 7 continents rehearsing in South America and performing in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Bob Marley elevated to Icon status in both Jamaica and Zimbabwe prior to his death. The song Zimbabwe was written about blacks rising up against oppression and white rule. It became an anthem when Zimbabwe gained it’s independence in 1980. Marley played at the independence ceremony despite being tear gassed during the performance. Four years prior in 1976 Bob survived an assassination attempt at his home on Hope Rd in Jamaica. According to Marley and other sources the gunmen were trying to prevent his performance at Smile Jamaica Peace Rally during an arduous political election cycle. Two days after being shot he performed with the bullet still lodged in his arm.
During one of his last interviews with Gil Noble, Marley talks about life. His biggest influences were Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie I. He continues on to speak about the contributions of blacks being omitted from school lessons and the illegitimacy of a Bible that was edited by King James. When asked what he would say to Black Americans, his message was we should develop ourselves and educate ourselves.
Bob was dangerous because he made the poor and oppressed all over the world pay attention. Imagine setting foot on every populated continent in the world only to notice that most of the poor and destitute people look like you. Nearly 40 years later his music touches a new generation trying to find their way in the world.