Tribute To The Honorable Robert Nesta Marley

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bob-marley-reggae.jpgOn February 6 each year, celebrations and tributes ring out around the world in memory of the Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, born on this day in 1945. Succumbing to a menacing cancer at the age of 36, he was prematurely taken from us on May 11, 1981. Lauded with several accolades that include Order of Merit in Jamaica, Bob Marley was crowned The King of Reggae Music by a fan base that spans the four corners of the earth.

The powerful force guiding young Bob Marley from very humble beginnings in Nine Miles St Ann and Trench Town's inner city, through to his being not only a colossal artistic success, but also a steadfast proponent of social justice and human rights is relentless, and lives on in the long legacy of compelling tracks left for the world to reflect on and enjoy. In a 1979 European interview Marley noted he was driven to speak out against weapons, wars, the corrupted or programmed, like those who create actual or virtual weapons to overthrow others. "Scientists still studying and not listening to what I am saying, but if they are not creating things for good, but creating weapons to overthrow people, they will get overthrown with it too," Marley opined. He went on to say the needy shall not be forgotten and the expectations of the righteous shall not perish.

Embracing Rastafari spiritual philosophy, Bob Marley brought its teachings to the world mainly through his music. "I don't have any religion, Rasta is life - I am what I am…I am a Rastaman," Bob once declared to an interviewer. With messages of peace, love and truth being the main components of his pulsating sound, doors to success opened globally for Bob, whose first major impact on the Jamaica music scene in 1964 was as a member of, The Wailers - comprised of, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston.

Burning a trail for Jamaican music with the revolutionary sounds of their first singles, "Simmer Down," "Soul Rebel" and "400 Years," as well as with debut albums in the early 70's, "Burnin" and "Catch A Fire," The Wailers commanded attention, and have retained that stance from the day they came on the scene until today - amidst many changes.

After a brief alliance with Lee "Scratch" Perry and around 1969 Alan "Skill" Cole, one of Jamaica's all time favourite star football players returned to Jamaica from his global football stints and regrouped with his friend Bob Marley. "What had been a cordial friendship since meeting at a football game in my early teens, grew into a close connection, that could only have been described as a binding relationship...we were closer than brothers...we were one blood," Skill explained. They formed Tuff Gong Records and from there releases kept coming, Skill said - and then Island Records came along. Being a strong support behind the stage front scenes was a pleasure for Skill, whose invaluable input was greatly appreciated by Bob.

It may have been the commonality of their love for football coupled with dedication to each other and similar values and principles that caused Skill and Bob to mesh so well, but their friendship grew only to become cemented in Bob’s last days. Skill, who stuck with Bob - physically and as a super source of emotional support, particularly during his final days on earth, recounted Bob's brave battle with a killer disease called, Melanoma or skin cancer.

"It started in 1970 while Bob played football in Boys Town. He got a rough tackle that left him needing rest for two weeks," Skill recounted. Flaring up again in 1977, the injury was diagnosed as the deadly Melanoma - one of the most aggressive skin cancers. Skill spoke of the treatments and side effects that initially involved removing Bob's toenail and placing him on a strict diet. In describing the shocking manifestation of Bob's illness on stage, Skill said, "When he collapsed in Central Park, he fell into my hands...from there I was with him every step of the way on his road to what I hoped would have been recovery."

Chemotherapy, that seemed to be more hurtful than helpful ensued and Skill described Bob's trip to Germany as one built on the hope of new and more natural treatments that had emerged. Making the trip with his brother, Skill spoke of the dismay that overcame not only him, but everyone around Bob, when his hair fell out. Facing the inevitable was like harsh defeat, leaving solace only in the prolific legacy of music amassed by Bob and The Wailers.

Skill lost a brother, Cedella Booker, Bob's mother, a son and Rita Marley, Bob's baby mothers and his children lost their soulmate and father on that fated day in 1981. However, like the song, "Natural Mystic," whether on February 6 or not, the undeniable truth in Bob's messages serve to somehow continually inspire our world, that is in dire need of an influx of peace, love and harmony.

Bob's numerous awards are listed below:

• 1976: Band of the Year (Rolling Stone)
• June 1978: Awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations
• February 1981: Awarded Jamaica's third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit
• March 1994: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
• 1999: Album of the Century for Exodus (Time Magazine)
• February 2001: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
• February 2001: Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
• 2004: Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #11 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time..
• 2005: Posthumous Achievement Award
• "One Love" named song of the millennium by The BBC
• Voted as one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll.

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