Way of Life


Home Life Bio Famous Songs Music Career Quotes/Beliefs Work Cited Reflection

When Bob quit school he seemed to have but one ambition: music. Although he took a job in a welding shop, Bob spent all his free time with Bunny, perfecting their vocal abilities. They were helped by one of Trench Town's famous residents, the singer Joe Higgs who held informal lessons for aspiring vocalists in the tenement yards. It was at one of those sessions that Bob and Bunny met Peter McIntosh, another youth with big musical ambitions. In 1962 Bob Marley auditioned for a local music entrepreneur called Leslie Kong. Impressed by the quality of Bob's vocals, Kong took the young singer into the studio to cut some tracks, the first of which, called "Judge Not", was released on Beverley's label. It was Marley's first record. The other tunes -- including "Terror" and "One Cup of Coffee" -- received no airplay and attracted little attention. At the very least, however, they confirmed Marley's ambition to be a singer. By the following year Bob had decided the way forward was with a group. He linked up with Bunny and Peter to form The Wailing Wailers. The new group had a mentor, a Rastafarian hand drummer called Alvin Patterson, who introduced the youths to Clement Dodd,, a record producer in Kingston. In the summer of 1963 Dodd auditioned The Wailing Wailers and, pleased with the results, agreed to record the group. It was the time of ska music, the hot new dance floor music with a pronounced back-beat. Its origins incorporated influences from Jamaica's African traditions but, more immediately, from the heady beats of New Orleans' rhythm & blues disseminated from American radio stations and the burgeoning sound systems on the streets of Kingston. Clement - Sir Coxsone - Dodd was one of the city's finest sound system men. The Wailing Wailers released their first single, "Simmer Down", on the Coxsone label during the last weeks of 1963. By the following January it was number one in the Jamaican charts, a position it held for the next two months. The group -- Bob, Bunny and Peter together with Junior Braithwaite and two back-up singers, Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith -- were big news.

I think Bob's influence is much stronger outside of America. Bob (and reggae as a whole) had a large influence on the politically conscious music that sprang out of the late 70s punk scene. Marley's influence on hip hop is a little harder to sort out.  There is no doubt that Bob's defiant and charismatic lyricism has influenced rappers from Run DMC (who did a duet with Yellowman) right through to OutKast.  Public Enemy?  KRS One?  It's hard to imagine a conscious rapper who doesn't owe something to Bob's calls for unity, enlightenment, and revolution.  That being said, Bob's musical influence is harder to find.  Naughty By Nature and the Fugees both used “No Woman No Cry”.  Lauren Hill used “Concrete Jungle” on her first album.  Wycleff Jean, Beastie Boys and others have incorporated reggae undercurrents in many tracks.  That being said, the number of Marley samples pales in comparison to the George Clinton/Parliament samples.  Let's cut to the chase.
The aesthetic of Bob Marley is, in my opinion, the most influential aspect of his art and the hardest to define.  Bob made it cool for music to come from somewhere besides London and New York.  He made it o.k. for music to come in an unfamiliar accent, without the trappings of fame and entitlement.  Much like punk, he succeeded in returning music to the people to whom it belonged.  This aesthetic of roots and culture, of forthrightness and integrity, of creating music that mourns and celebrates the struggles-large and small- of everyday people, is Bob Marley's lasting influence on musicians and, in turn, on American culture.  To be sure some of the hybrids of musical cultures we see today would have come about whether Bob Marley had ever been heard outside of Jamaica.  I believe, however, his success at reaching across cultural borders while remaining true to himself, provided a blueprint by which these hybrids succeed.

He was also an huge fan of soccer and enjoyed playing it himself.




Home Life Bio Famous Songs Music Career Way of Life Quotes/Beliefs Work Cited Reflection