Myths & Facts: Bob Marley Cause Of Death, His Life And More

by frugalrvers

For Bob Marley, cause of death is just one area of his life that is surrounded by myths. Here are some facts about this remarkable musician's life as well as death.

Most of the world now knows what the genre of reggae is in music, mostly thanks to one man: Bob Marley. For the general public and in the mass media, when Jamaican music and reggae are mentioned, the image that comes to mind is a ganja-puffing, dread-locked, brown-skinned handsome man named Marley.

His position in the pantheon of rock is assured by his legacy of song and live performance. The story of how he came to represent an entire genre of modern music, a cult-like religion, and an island nation is a fascinating tale.

Here is some history about his life as well as clarity on myths that surrounded him.

Information about Bob Marley, Rastafarian

Born in 1945 in Jamaica, Marley (whose original name was Nesta Robert Marley) was also born into complexity. His father was a white Englishman living on the island, and his mother was an African expatriate doing the same. They were married, but the family rarely saw Mr. Marley who was always away on plantation business. When he died at the age of 70, Bob was only 10, so his relationship with his dad never had a chance to mature. His mixed race was never an issue for him, apparently, as he always considered himself as an African-Jamaican, and was proud of his racial heritage.


He recorded his first tracks at the age of 17, after having met future band-mates Bunny Wailer (aka Neville Livingston) and Peter Tosh, and learning to play guitar and sing. In 1963 the first version of the group that would become the Wailers was formed based on the trio of friends, with the addition of a rhythm section, and Marley never looked back from that day forward. At the same time that his musical prowess was growing, he became a convert to the philosophy and ideology of Rastafarianism, which was the major influence, along with rock and roll, on his music and in his life.


Although the public perception is generally that anyone from Jamaica must be a Rastafarian (or Rasta for short), the fact is that less than 5% of the population identifies themselves as such. The followers believe in several interesting ideas that have become well-known through their music – reggae. And while not all reggae is made by Rastas, most Rastas see reggae as the expression of their beliefs and as a way to praise God, who they refer to as Jah. Rastafarians also believe that Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia for 44 years, was the son of Jah, and that marijuana is a sacrament. They see all humanity as one, and thus use the expression “I and I” to refer to people in general. While obviously a complicated set of beliefs, it is a peaceful and music-loving pseudo-religion, one that Marley embraced and promoted whole heartedly.

Myths Surrounding Bob Marley Death Cause And Overall Image

The image of Bob Marley seems to be known throughout the world, because it can be seen on t-shirts, posters and in graffiti everywhere. And along with his celebrity status has come several myths and legends that don't really fit the facts, but have grown up around him like ganja plants.


One is that he was always high and sat around in a pot-induced haze when he wasn't performing. The fact, however, is that he was actually an active and energetic athlete who loved to play soccer, or football as he called it.


Connected with his fondness for soccer is another myth – that his death was bought on by an injury to his foot while playing the game. He actually did injure his foot, but it was made worse by his advancing cancer. Medical advice was to have the injured toe amputated, but Marley did not agree and refused the treatment.

Was Bob Marley Shot?

Ironically, even as Marley espoused peace and reconciliation, he did make some enemies because of his liberal political views. He was involved in a public campaign with Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica at the time, (what happened when, reggae culture and violence – irony) and was planning an appearance at a huge festival for the cause when he, his wife and his manager were shot in his home in 1976.


The assailants were never found, but it was assumed that the attack was in retaliation for his political work. Marley and the others recovered from their wounds and Bob lived 4 more years, but more irony attached itself to the Rasta – reggae movement when Peter Tosh, one of the original Wailers, was shot and killed in a robbery attempt in 1987 at his home in Jamaica.

Bob Marley: Cause of Death At 36, and a Life Well Lived

The actual cause of Marley's death at the age of 36 in 1981 was from the widespread metastasis of melanoma. He had fallen ill from his cancer while on tour in 1980 and had to stop performing (the recording of his final concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is available below - titled Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh PA September 23, 1980 ). He sought alternative treatment in a Bavarian clinic, where he fought the disease for about 8 months, but to no avail. He decided to return to his beloved Jamaica to die, but unfortunately had to be hospitalized in Miami, where he passed away on May 11, 1981.


He was survived by his wife Rita and numerous children, at least one of whom, Ziggy Marley, has gone on to achieve international reggae fame on his own. And while Marley has largely escaped the Jimi Hendrix treatment of endless posthumous releases of inferior work, his albums and box set collections have consistently sold millions of copies throughout the years since his death. His influence on subsequent generations of musicians and on rock music itself has been immense and immeasurable, and reggae is still defined by his music and his name.

Some Of The Best On The List Of Bob Marley Songs

A Few From The List Of The Top 10 Bob Marley Songs

“I Shot The Sheriff” was recorded by Eric Clapton, introducing the world to reggae and its master.

“Get Up, Stand Up” is a classic call to action, co-written by Peter Tosh.

“Stir It Up” represents the sexy side of reggae and lover's rock.

“Is This Love” shows the tender soft side of the genre and of Marley.

“Redemption Song” is a undeniable classic, and a solo acoustic rendition at that.

“Jammin” is a dance floor favorite that showcases the best aspects of reggae.


Any list of Bob Marley songs that pretends to be the best is incomplete. There are many other famous songs that show up on playlists and mix tapes, most just as good as these. His catalog is amazingly consistent in quality and unmistakably original.

Watch Bob Marley Live

Bob Marley Album List

Marley was fortunate in that he did not record extensively before he became well-known, and did not leave behind much unreleased material, so that most of his recorded legacy is professionally produced, easily available, and highly consistent in overall quality.


1. The Wailing Wailers is the first album by The Wailers, released only in Jamaica, on the Studio One label. Originally put out in late 1965, it has been re-released over the years with various remixes and changes. Notable for it obvious attempt at different genres of pop, it is not representative of Marley's later work.


2. Soul Rebel is the first album by The Wailers that was released outside of the island, in 1970. Produced by Lee Perry, the record is much loved by reggae aficionados who value the sparse and ragged sound of the album.


3. Soul Revolution was the second and final album recorded with Lee Perry, and co-produced by Marley. Released in 1971, it has a similar sound and reputation to the first Lee Perry production.Both Perry albums contain songs that would later be re-recorded.


4. Catch A Fire was the first Wailers album on the international Island Records label, and it was the record that really started Marley on his way to superstardom. Recorded in Jamaica, it was remixed and overdubbed to soften the ragged feel for broader audience, but it has since been released in the original version. It is regarded as one of the greatest reggae albums of all time.


5. Burnin' came out in the 1973 music scene, and was the final recording with Tosh and Livingston in the band. Another highly regarded record, it featured reworked versions of several older songs, and the anthemic Get Up, Stand Up.


6. Natty Dread was the first album attributed to Bob Marley and the Wailers, released in 1974. Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left the band to pursue solo careers, so Marley was the only singer and the primary songwriter. It also marked the debut of the I-Threes, female backup singers (Rita Marley was one of the 3).


7. Rastaman Vibration came out in 1976, and was Marley's biggest-selling album on Billboard's charts. Many of the songs were credited to other writers due to his being involved in a publishing dispute, but he actually wrote most of them. Another of the best reggae records of all time, and the last of the core 5 albums.


8. Exodus was recorded in England after the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Marley in 1976, and released in 1977. Critically acclaimed as the record that made him an international star, it contains many of his most popular songs.


9. Kaya was recorded during the Exodus sessions, but the songs were different in tone. With subjects mostly centered on love and ganja, it is considered a softening of Marley's formerly more militant and political tone, and came out in 1978.


10. Survival, a 1979 release, may have been a response to the criticism of Kaya, or it may just have been a logical progression for Marley. The militant themes revolve around expatriation to Africa, but the songs were relatively weak.


11. Uprising continued the militant themes of the previous record, and was similarly poorly received by critics and fans alike, but it did contain the instant classic and perennial favorite, Redemption Song. Unfortunately, it was the final record released during Marley's lifetime, in 1980.


12. Confrontation was the first and only studio-recorded posthumous album, released in 1983. It is famous for the song Buffalo Soldier, but not much else of quality.


These are his legacy and are all of the studio albums recorded, named and released with Marley's approval and involvement (Confrontation was planned before he died). Two live recordingswere made availablewhile Marley was alive, and several have appeared posthumously as well.

Just A Few Albums With Bob Marley Famous Songs

One Is His Final Concert, One Is A Fantastic Box Set For Fans!
Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh PA September 23, 1980 [2 CD Deluxe Edition]

2011 two CD live archive release. Recorded 30 years ago while Marley was touring in support of his album Uprising, Live Forever is Bob Marley's last recorded concert. This never...

Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley And The Wailers (New Packaging)

1. Is This Love2. No Woman No Cry3. Could You Be Loved4. Three Little Birds5. Buffalo Soldier6. Get Up Stand Up7. Stir It Up8. One Love/People Get Ready9. I Shot the Sheriff10. ...

Songs of Freedom

When Songs of Freedom was released originally in 1992, it was a perfect complement to either a greatest hits collection like Legend or the entire collection of the reggae master...



Bob Marley Lives On...

The top Bob Marley songs are only a brief introduction to his life's work. His influence on modern rock and pop music is huge, even though much of it goes unrecognized by casual music lovers. Perhaps more important than his musical heritage is the influence of his philosophy and the message that we are one, and that peace is our birthright.


Marley died too young, not as young as members of the forever 27 club (but ironically, he was friends with Jacob Miller of the reggae band, Inner Circle, who died at 27) - but certainly before he had matured and blossomed into the consummate artist that he might have become had he lived longer.

Hope you enjoyed the article! We are musicians and huge music can find us at our music site, One Less Karen. Keep on rockin'!!!!

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Updated: 05/09/2018, frugalrvers
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What Are Your Favorite, Top Bob Marley Songs You Enjoy Listening To?

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cj11 on 03/07/2017

woman don't cry

bob marley qutes on 10/07/2016

no woman no cry is the heart touching quote i say which had said by the famous person that is <a href="">bob marley quotes</a> find here such quotes more.

Chijoke Anderson on 06/01/2016

My Most Favorite Bob Marley Song is GIVE THANKS AND PRAISES

frugalrvers on 03/14/2016

Thanks for sharing your favorites (and Bob stories) on this article.....very much appreciated!

robbes7rh on 03/14/2016

"Africa Unite" and "So Much Things to Say" are two of my favorite songs. Kaya my favorite album. I dug reggae when I was a teen in the 70's and was the lone member of my Clique. I saw Bob perform live on the L.A. leg of his final tour. At that point his dread locks were real long and he was looking somewhat sickly from what we now know was advancing melanoma. I will never understand why "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Redemption Song" are mentioned as signature/favorites. To my ears those two are the lamest tracks he ever laid down.

cmalphud on 11/27/2015

I love satisfy my soul

Sharay on 01/31/2015

One Love, Three Little Birds, Is This Love, Redemption Song

frugalrvers on 11/22/2014


Joy on 11/19/2014

One of a kind man. We love you Bob Marley!

Ed on 09/06/2014

Natural Mystic

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