Bob Marley Cause of Death: The Life and Death of a Reggae Legend

Bob Marley Cause of Death
Bob Marley Cause of Death

Bob Marley, a musician, performer, and songwriter from Jamaica, rose to prominence as an international advocate for reggae music and an emblematic figure for peace and justice. At the age of 36, he passed away on May 11, 1981, from an uncommon form of skin cancer that had metastasized to his critical organs. Scroll down for additional details.

Early Life and Career

Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in Nine Mile, a remote community in Jamaica’s St. Ann Parish. Norval Sinclair Marley, a white British naval officer, was his father, and Cedella Booker, a black Jamaican woman, was his mother. Bob’s father was rarely in his life and died when he was ten years old.

When Bob was 12, he relocated to Kingston’s Trench Town slum with his mother, where he was exposed to the music of American rhythm and blues performers as well as burgeoning Jamaican forms such as ska and rocksteady. In 1963, he formed The Wailers with two other young musicians, Neville “Bunny” Livingston (later Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh).

Bob Marley Cause of Death

Under the direction of producer Coxsone Dodd, the Wailers recorded numerous successful songs in Jamaica, including “Simmer Down”, “One Love”, and “Stir It Up”. They also experimented with many musical influences like soul, folk, and African rhythms, eventually developing their distinct sound that became known as reggae.

The Wailers signed a deal with Island Records, a British company, in 1972, which allowed them more creative flexibility and international recognition. Catch a Fire, their debut album for Island was released in 1973, followed by Burnin’ the following year. Both albums gained critical praise and exposed reggae music to a larger audience, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, due to artistic and financial differences, The Wailers separated in 1974. Bob Marley and the Wailers continued to record under the name Bob Marley and the Wailers, with a new backing band that included his wife Rita Marley and the I Threes, a female vocal trio.

He also grew more interested in the Rastafari movement, which was founded in Jamaica and pushed for social justice, African solidarity, and resistance to persecution.

Bob Marley Cause of Death and Funeral Details

Bob Marley’s health began to deteriorate in 1977 when he was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma, a type of skin cancer that had developed beneath his toenail. The malignancy was most likely caused by a combination of hereditary factors and sun exposure.

Marley declined to have his toe removed, as his physicians recommended, due to his religious convictions and passion for soccer. He chose a less intrusive procedure that removed the nail and the tissue surrounding it, but the malignancy was not eradicated. Despite his discomfort and tiredness, he continued to tour and record.

In 1980, Marley’s cancer had spread to his brain, liver, and lungs. He investigated alternative treatments in Germany, but these were ineffective. He opted to return to Jamaica, but he died on May 11, 1981, during a stopover in Miami, Florida. He was transferred to the hospital, where he died later that day. He was 36 years old.

Marley’s funeral was place on May 21, 1981, in Kingston, Jamaica. Thousands of mourners were present, including Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who delivered the eulogy. Marley was laid to rest in a mausoleum in his hometown of Nine Mile.

If you would like to read about other recent passings, we have a list available for your perusal.

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