Bob Marley
A man pedals past a mural of late reggae legend Bob Marley in Kingston, Jamaica. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP

Bob Marley is considered a king of the Caribbean whose name is recognised in most countries across the globe.

In July 2023, Paramount Pictures released the trailer to their new feature film 'Bob Marley: One Love' – set to hit theatres on January 12 2024.

In the movie, which focuses on the life and death of Bob Marley, the reggae sensation is played by the Netflix series star Kingsley Ben-Adir.

Rise to fame in Jamaica

Nesta Robert (Bob) Marley was born in 1945 in Nine Mile, Jamaica. Bob Marley was raised as an only child by his mother and absent father until he was 10 years old.

Norval Marley (father) was rarely spoken about throughout Bob Marley's journey to stardom and memorable career, with medical reports describing him as a "neurotic type of man".

It is also well documented, that Norval Marley and Cedella Marley, Bob's mother who is more recently known as Cedella Booker, met while he was working as a supervisor on a plantation in Jamaica.

The couple got married when Cedella was just 18 years old and Norval 32 years her senior.

Actress Esther Anderson, who started dating Bob when he was signed to Island Records, once spoke to reporters about the star's relationship with his father. She said: "The guy didn't exist. There was a photograph of him on a horse, a white man on a horse."

Throughout Bob's career, sources note that the star was often criticised, for being the son White man in Jamaica.

After Bob's father, Norval Sinclair Marley, died from a heart attack in 1955, both Bob and his mother moved to Trenchtown, a poor neighbourhood in Kingston, Jamaica.

Bob and his mother had a strong relationship and close bond. In an interview, Cedella reminisced on the fact that she never felt like her son had left home, considering they spoke every day and she felt his presence immensely.

While in Trenchtown, Bob worked with producer Leslie Kong and released his first single 'Judge Not'.

At the same time, Bob's mother started her short-lived relationship with Taddeus Livingston– the father of Bunny Wailer (Livingston).

Growing up Bob became inspired by listening to music on the radio, telling reporters that his love for reggae was being heavily influenced by "spiritual music cause it get more revolutionised".

Just one year after that, in 1962, Jamaica became an independent nation and the band 'The Wailers' was formed by members Bob Marley, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, Bunny Wailer (Livingston), Peter McIntosh and Cherry Smith.

Less than 12 hours after the group released their first track 'Simmer Down' in 1963, the hit topped the charts in Jamaica.

In the Paramount Pictures feature film, the reggae sensation is played by the Netflix series star Kingsley Ben-Adir.

Amid what he expected to be his big break, in 1964, Bob welcomed his first sibling, Pearl Livingston, the daughter of Cedella and Taddeus.

While observing her son's success, Cedella met US Civil Servant Edward Booker. The pair got married and the family took up residence in residence in Wilmington, Delaware, where she gave birth to two children.

Like her son, Cedella Booker was inspired to begin her career as a Jamaican singer-songwriter in the US. She later became the owner of a house on Tatnall Street and ran a Jamaican music shop dubbed Roots.

In 1965, The Wailers released their first album. The album was dubbed 'The Wailing Wailers' and included the tracks 'Love & Affection', 'Lonesome Feeling' and 'One Love'.

Despite The Wailers being a sensation in Jamaica, the group were still struggling financially. This led to Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith leaving the group.

In 1966, at 21 years of age, Bob decided to move in with his mother in Delaware. Before leaving his homeland, he married Rita Anderson.

While Bob only stayed in Delaware for eight months, the reggae sensation has been recorded noting that "this was the first place he called home".

Back in Jamaica, Bob reunited with Bunny Livingston and Peter McIntosh, speaking to them about his growing interest in spirituality and the Rastafarian movement.

The Rastafarian movement started in Jamaica in the 1930s and was developed from the ideas of the political leader Marcus Garvey. The Rastafari theology sets out to improve the status of the Black race and supports the belief that Jesus Christ was a Black African male.

Rastafarianism is also heavily linked to the concept of 'livity' which relates to the idea of living a balanced life in all aspects.

Data shows that between 700,000 to one million people across the globe identify as Rastafarian, with almost 35,000 members of the community living in Jamaica.

While speaking about Rastafarianism in an interview, Bob said: "I have been a Rasta from ever since y'know... We are just Rasta from creation, y'know."

In the late 1960s, The Wailers recruited new members and began working with producer Lee Perry, creating successful tracks like "Trench Town Rock", "Soul Rebel" and "Four Hundred Years".

During this time, Bob also worked independently with the American singer-songwriter Johnny Nash. Their musical abilities led to Bob's song 'Stir It Up' becoming a worldwide top hit. From this, Bob received much attention and was awarded a contract for a movie soundtrack in Sweden.

Bob Marley's big break

Making their 10-year anniversary, The Wailers were signed with Island Records and recorded a complete album, Catch a Fire, in a studio for the very first time.

The album was made up of nine tracks, including 'Concrete Jungle' and 'Midnight Ravers' and featured Bob's earlier single 'Stir It Up'.

The group went on to raise awareness of their new album for several months, touring and performing as a supporting act for the famous Bruce Springsteen across the US and the UK.

While touring the West, the group released their second album, 'Burnin''. The new album went viral after Eric Clapton, an English rockstar, covered the song 'I Shot the Sherrif' in 1974 which boosted it to become a number-one hit in the US.

When speaking of his success, Bob noted that he did not recognise his wealth in materialistic objects. He said: "Possessions make you rich? I don't have that type of richness. My richness is life."

In 1975, just six years before his death, The Wailers recruited female vocalists and adapted their title. The female vocalists included Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, and Bob's wife, Rita.

Although it is still up for debate, whether Bob wrote each song himself, the group's name was changed to 'Bob Marley and The Wailers'.

The popularity of 'No Woman, No Cry', marked the group's first Top 40 hit in Britain and changed the narrative for reggae internationally.

Throughout Bob and Rita's lengthy marriage, which many expected to end in divorce, the pair parented several children.

By 1976, Bob was devoted to his faith and political change, with Rastaman Vibration representing exactly that. The album made the US music charts and contained the well-known hit 'War'.

In the song, Bob included the words of Haile Selassie, a contemporary Ethiopian Emperor who was seen as a leader in the Rastafarian movement in the 20th Century.

The final Bob Marley and the Wailers album that Bob recorded was 'Uprising'. Uprising was released in 1980 and featured the tracks, Zion Train, Redemption Song and Could You Be Loved.

In 1981, Bob was taken to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (more recently known as University of Miami Hospital) in Miami, Florida.

While in the hospital, the star received immediate medical attention for a strong case of melanoma that had spread to his lungs and brain. Sadly, at just 36 years old, Bob Marley passed away.

More than 30 years after the reggae legend died, Los Angeles declared a national Bob Marley Day. The dedicated day is to be celebrated on the 6 February each year.

Throughout Bob and Rita's lengthy marriage, which many expected to end in divorce, the pair parented several children.

In an interview, Bob expressed his love of fatherhood, saying: "Children are wonderful. It don't take plenty, y'know. Just a nice girl who don't take birth control. Sexual intercourse is a lovely thing."

Pushing his children into the music sector, Bob requested that his children form the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

The members include Ziggy Marley, Stephen Marley, Sharon Marley and Cedella Marley.

Like their father, the band seek to bring people together through their reggae sound. It was only after their father's death, that Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers went on to win three Grammy Awards and five nominations.

The band disbanded in 2002.

Bob Marley's children

Bob Marley adopted Rita's first-born daughter Sharon Marley soon after they tied the knot in 1966.

Their first biological child, Cedella Marley, was gifted her name out of respect for Bob's mother. Cedella was born in 1967 and has since followed in her father's musical footsteps, continuing as a successful Jamaican singer.

Their second biological child and Bob's oldest son, David Marley, was born in 1968. David, who is better known as Ziggy and the frontman of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, also inherited his father's creative talent and has become a well-known Jamaican reggae musician.

Before his death, Bob Marley requested that his children form the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

In 1972, the pair welcomed the star of the show and last child together, Stephen Marley. Stephen also continued his career in music and has since won a Grammy Award eight times – three times as a solo artist.

Damian Marley is Bob and Rita's youngest son. Damian was just two years old when his father passed but has since continued in the arts as a Jamaican DJ, singer, lyricist and rapper.

Reports also note that Bob was the biological father to multiple other illegitimate children, with inside sources claiming that he was the father of around 11 children from 7 different mothers.

Bob's youngest child is Makeda Jahnesta Marley. Yvette Crichton confirmed that he was the biological father of Makeda after giving birth to her daughter just weeks after Bob Marley's death in 1981.