Artists have often reworked the music of Bob Marley for new generations. But even without the help of remixing and redoing Marley’s music still has currency. Decades after his death it seems that Marley was much more than a man of music.
The sun rose for Robert Nesta Marley in Nine Miles a small village in the hills of St. Ann in the north of Jamaica. Today it’s become something of a shrine and a tourist attraction.
People come from all over to see the place, he was born where he lived up to the age of thirteen and the place he would often return to, to write and meditate.
In some ways it is where his story started, ended and continues.
He was born in 1945 the son of a Jamaican mother and an English father. His songs and guitar licks, the small axe that would make a large impact on the music world.
He moved to Kingston the concrete jungle of Trenchtown, experiences like others that would be remembered in song. This inner city area was a place of struggle for young men then, as it is today.
For today’s youth looking for opportunity Bob’s legacy is among the things that can help.
These days the Trench town Cultural Yard hopes to bring people into the area to show a different side, something different from the fear associated with the inner-city and to suggest alternatives for those who live there.
Marley did escape through music.
The man many knew for his rebel music the denim and dreads didn’t start out that way, he joined a vocal group whose music like that of others at the time reflected the influence of U.S. soul and r and b, tight harmonies and sharp suits.
Soon he would find a different source of inspiration, in Rastafarianism. He would infuse his music with the message and bring Rasta man vibration to a wider audience.
Whilst much of his music looks at slavery, Rastafari, injustice, struggle there was still time for romance and not just as a musical theme.
As his music took off, he had no need to remain in Trenchtown and made a home in a large house on Hope Road in the centre of Kingston.
This is now a museum, pictures of Bob form a mural on a wall on the compound, inside memorabilia and sombre guides take you through the rooms where he ate, played music and where he survived being shot.
At times his message was simple.
“Don’t worry about a thing”…. or “one love” now an often used theme for tourism commercials and sometimes a greeting of sorts.
The National Arena, in Kingston’s sporting complex is where thousands came to pay their last respects after the death of Marley. Just across the road stands a statute of Marley, surrounded by a fence that seems to proudly protect the monument to the man.
Some come to have their pictures taken with it as a backdrop, others to debate if it really resembles him and there are others in Jamaica who never really knew what the fuss was all about.
Wrangles over his estate continue, some wonder about the man behind the music and the life he led.
One thing is clear from the steady stream of record sales, memorabilia, the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the Rock Hall of Fame show that he’s helped put reggae and Jamaica on the map internationally.
On the anniversary of his death, May 11th each year visitors from home and abroad make the journey to Nine Miles just to be there on that day. And if they’re not sure which road to take they simply ask the people they see on the road which way to Bob Marley?