It has been 36 years since the untimely passing of Robert Nesta Marley. Also known as Tuff Gong, he was just 36 years old when he died on May 11, 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida after battling cancer. And while the time seems to have whizzed by, his legacy was not lost on audiences of listener supported WBAI-FM radio, when Imhotep Gary Byrd host of the Global Black Experience touted the rich contribution of the short-lived legend.
In addition to lauding the many, many indelible, timeless musical compositions – some which are now anthems for causes (most recently the Ariana Grande “One Love” concert in Manchester, England); consistent and always-revealing attributes of his heirs, and the global celebrations established in his honor (Reggae On the River, Reggae in the Desert, Reggae in the Mountains, Reggae By The Sea, Reggae By The Nile, etc) a legacy that underscores his short life stockpiles a message he prophesied in a song when he said “dem ago tyad fi mi face.”
For sure, Marley’s image seems to be a recurring feature through his children Ziggy, Stephen, Kymani, Damian, Julian, Rohan, Cedella who have all been nominated or won Grammy awards. As a matter of fact, Ziggy holds the record for winning eight, the most in the sole category devoted to Caribbean music.
To compound that magnanimous achievement Ziggy was recently awarded the Gershwin Lifetime Musical Achievement Award at UCLA’s Spring Sing.
According to his spokesperson “Marley is the first reggae artist to receive the award in its 29-year history, honoring his contributions to music with 16 albums spanning three decades, countless world tours, being the first reggae act to tour China and Dubai and his global humanitarian and charitable initiatives including work across Africa, Israel, Jamaica and North America.”
“Marley stands in good company, past recipients include Ray Charles, Tom Petty, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, The Who, Quincy Jones and Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers). The eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley received the honor at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, addressing the 7,000 in attendance, urging attendees to act with an open mind and compassion in their daily lives.”
His younger brother Stephen is almost neck-and-neck standing one short of the winning amount. Cedella, the first girl born to the Rita and Bob union earned her Grammys as a member of the Melody Makers, the backers of her brother Ziggy’s group.
A fashion designer (“Catch A Fire” clothing), author (five children’s books), actress (“Johnny Breaker” ‘The Mighty Quinn,” and “Third World Cop”) and mother to recent Grammy performer Skip (who shared the stage with Katy Perry and is enjoying acclaim with a song titled ‘Lions’) Cedella is a businesswoman who has kept the business in the family.
Unlike his siblings, Rohan did not capitalize on his musical inheritance instead he performed on the green playing college football and later with Miami Hurricanes. He also ventured into the coffee business fronting Marley Coffee.
Already respected as an achiever — with Lauryn Hill, Rohan made Bob, a great, grand-father five times — Zion David (August 1997); Selah Louise (September 1998); Joshua Omaru ( 2002) John Nesta ( 2003); and Sarah (2008).
Their first-born Zion is a new daddy after the birth of little Zephaniah earlier this year; Selah is a model Marley tackling the catwalks and already reputed for working with Beyonce, Rihanna and other celebrated fashion icons.
Nico, Rohan’s first-born son — with Geraldine Khawly prior to his union with Hill — recently signed with the Washington Redskins after four years with the Tulane Green Wave. Nico plays lineback.
None of Marley’s off-springs have been slouches, accomplished in their own right also are Sharon who Marley adopted when he married his only bride, Rita.
She also won three Grammy awards as a member of the Melody Makers.
Karen, Robert, Stephanie and other Marley-associated names are also adding to the legacy of the first Third World superstar.
Marley Family Celebrates 40th Anniversary Of “Exodus”
June is celebrated by achievements — brides, graduates, Caribbean heritage and Black music — and this year along with concerts, parties and tributes, reggae fans will be able to purchase a classic recording and remake of one of the most coveted albums of all time.
Bob Marley & the Wailers’ classic “Exodus” album, the ninth studio album of the band was released on June 3, 1977.
The album was released six months after an assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley’s life in Jamaica in December, forcing him to flee to London, where it was recorded.
This Caribbean Heritage / Black Music Month, The Marley Family, Island Records and UMe will mark the 40th anniversary of the album – named the “Best Album of the 20th Century” by Time Magazine in 1999 — with a series of four separate reissues, three of which will feature “Exodus 4 – The Movement Continues” which his son Ziggy curated in a “restatement” of the original album.
As part of the celebration, Ziggy has intimately revisited the original session recordings, uncovering unused and never-before-heard vocals, lyric phrasing and instrumentation, incorporating and transforming these various elements into brand-new session takes.
On June 2, the record label released a version of the “Exodus 40 – The Movement Continues” in a two-CD package that includes the original album and the Ziggy “restatement”; a three-CD set (and digital equivalent) that includes the original “Exodus” “Exodus 40…” and “Exodus Live.” A limited edition gold version of the original 1977 album will also be available.
Damian AKA Junior Gong, the youngest son of the reggae superstar recently announced his purchase of a prison that formerly housed inmates convicted of smoking or possessing marijuana.
Late last month, another announcement disclosed that the Gong has joined with a few investors to acquire majority stakes in High Times Magazine.
As owner of 60 percent to the popular publication — which has retained a loyal print subscriber base of more than 200,000 with millions more following it online — Damian and company also secured its digital media platforms and its increasingly popular Cannabis Cup trade shows.
The purchase price was not revealed but Adam Levin, whose Los Angeles-based investment firm, Oreva Capital, put together the deal, said the company is valued at $70 million.
Damian’s forthcoming reggae album is titled “Stony Hill,” named from an area in Jamaica where members of the Marley family resided.
The Marley family continues to give back to the needy via multiple charitable organizations, which include: Ziggy’s URGE, the Rita Marley Foundation and the 1Love Foundation.
Catch You On The Inside!