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Bob Marley Chronology
September 5, 2001 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Bob Marley Chronology His final words to son Ziggy, "Money can't buy life." Has any other artist left as big a footprint? What impact has his music had on your life?
posted by keithl (21 comments total)

 
Has any other artist left as big a footprint?

Footprint in what respect? Amount of music written? Deep meanings within songs? There's plenty of musicians which probably have had more impact in either one of those areas.
posted by milnak at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2001


I'm a pretty big fan of reggae. I don't really listen to Bob Marley much, but I'm pretty sure if he didn't exist, I might not have even heard of reggae.
posted by Doug at 10:51 AM on September 5, 2001


"Money can't buy life."

Not that he returned any of the checks.

Bob Marley had quite an impact, undeniably, though how much of it was due to his dying fashionably young (to borrow from Lester Bangs) is debatable. But asking if any other artist has left as big a footprint is, unfortunately, begging for it. Lennon. Rotten. Cline. Sinatra. Presley. On and on . . .
posted by Skot at 11:01 AM on September 5, 2001


You say 'artist' probably meaning recording artist, but I'd like to take it literally and suggest Picasso or Andy Warhol. I really like Bob Marley, but both of these artists prove to be more of an inspiration to me even though I'm not an artist myself.
posted by wackybrit at 11:08 AM on September 5, 2001


I wasn't trying to diminish the impact of any other artist. What I meant by foot print in any country in the world you can see people of all ages wearing Bob Marley t shirt etc, something you don't really see nearly as much with Lennon and others. I think it speaks volumes that although he has been dead for 20 years almost half of all reggae music sold are his recordings. The president of Amnesty international is quoted as saying that to people all over the world the name Bob Marley is equated with freedom.

"Not that he returned any of the checks."

Yes he did. He gave much of his estate away to the poor and he didn't wait to die to do it.
posted by keithl at 11:19 AM on September 5, 2001


If you are a big Bob Marley fan, I'd recommend the reggae exhibit that's currently running at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. (Much of the stuff is online, as well.) It looks at the progression of reggae as a function of Jamaican independence, and the drive to establish a music unique to the region. Well worth the visit.
posted by delfuego at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2001


keithl said: [...] in the world you can see people of all ages wearing Bob Marley t shirt etc, something you don't really see nearly as much with Lennon and others. I think it speaks volumes that although he has been dead for 20 years almost half of all reggae music sold are his recordings.

This is true, but Bob Marley has proven to be the only highly successful commercial reggae artist in the First World to date. It's not as if there's any real alternative.. hence, Marley is the big seller.

Artists such as Wyclef Jean and Finley Quaye have taken a LOT of their sound from Marley, but they are not classified as reggae artists themselves. How often does a reggae song get into the charts? Rarely. Most reggae-like songs in the charts are immediately classified as 'pop'.

So I'm not sure Marley is such a big seller because of his views on life, but rather because his music is catchy, and he's the only big truly reggae name out there.
posted by wackybrit at 11:40 AM on September 5, 2001


"and he's the only big truly reggae name out there."

I was under the impression that UB40 was huge in Europe and the rest of the world. I could be very, very wrong. I just always here of Reggae stars being huge in Europe.

I live in Long Beach, which is home to http://www.theworldofreggae.com/ the biggest collection, I believe, of Reggae and Bob memorabilia. It's provided mostly by Roger Steffens who is arguably holder of the largest collection of Reggae.

There's a huge Reggae scene here in Long Beach. Roots, Dub, Sublime type offshoots, you name it.

(part of the reason why I moved here, actually)
posted by perplexed at 2:27 PM on September 5, 2001


I started my love affair with reggae music by avoiding Bob Marley. I bought recordings by Desmond Dekker, Toots and the Maytals and Peter Tosh first. I have a two CD collection of his stuff with The Wailers, but that's about it.
However, Marley's influence is undeniable-yet I think there many artists who are just as good if not better.
(Saw Toots on TV recently - He still kicks ass!)
posted by black8 at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2001


wackybrit - I'm baffled how Warhol can influence someone. Is it something vague like "ironic look at consumerism" or more specific (curious, not critical)?

Isn't Marley popular as a symbol largely because of the association with marijuana ("I wear this T shirt because I do cool drugs")?

I guess Police (in parts) could be added to this list of famous reggae bands.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:42 PM on September 5, 2001


Since I'm feeling mellowly nationalistic tonight, I'm going to put a word in for Welsh reggae.
posted by ceiriog at 2:50 PM on September 5, 2001


It has to be better than Scottish rock (Runrig). Aren't half-foreign song titles cool when you don't know the language? "Anifail Brigitte Bardot". "Beirdd bît à go-go". Know of any MP3s I can listen to (thanks)?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:59 PM on September 5, 2001


He's new, but I think you would also have to add Shaggy to the successful reggae artist list. Plus numerous Marley/DJ influences are all over the place.

As a Jamaican-descendant it always amazes me that there are people in freakin' Iowa who know who Bob Marley is.
posted by owillis at 3:16 PM on September 5, 2001


I don't think Shaggy has conquered any countries or changed any lives... except maybe for people searching on Google for Scooby Doo.
posted by perplexed at 3:31 PM on September 5, 2001


hmmm... I thought Bob Marley's last words were: "Smoke more joints my son." or something like that.
:eyesroll:
posted by MrJesus at 6:12 PM on September 5, 2001


Big footprints? No doubt Marley was a pioneer, but even if we're just (for some reason) limiting the list to people with the first name 'Bob,' I can think of two people who impacted music more. Bob Dylan and Robert Johnson. So, there ya go.
posted by Hildago at 6:24 PM on September 5, 2001


Big footprints? Yeah.. the guy died twenty years ago and you can't go more than a couple of weeks without hearing a Marley tune. What I've always found amazing is that with the thousands of reggae artists out there, he's the one you consistently hear. Survey a thousand people and ask them to name a Reggae artist and song and I bet you 90% will be Marley and his music. I'm not saying that's the way it should be but that's the way is. You probably can't name more than eight or nine artists that haven't recorded in over twenty years and are still that well known.
posted by iscavenger at 8:53 PM on September 5, 2001


Isn't Marley popular as a symbol largely because of the association with marijuana ("I wear this T shirt because I do cool drugs")?


Yeah I don't think its safe to dismiss teenage ennui and angst from the equation. Ignoring that he did make lots of good/catchy songs I'd say the ubiqitious Marley T-shirt exists because suburban kids get to tell their parents that:

1. I like music that is critical of the establishment.

2. I like music that is pro-drug.

3. I like music made by black people.

Very powerful statements in America.

A for artists with living impact. I hear very little guitar-based music that doesn't come from the tradition of the Beatles/Who or the Sex Pistols/Clash variety.
posted by skallas at 10:37 PM on September 5, 2001


The BM & the Wailers album Burnin' was my intro to reggae back in '75--well, my first album: I used to hear Catch a Fire on WMMR in '72 but it didn't click for awhile. I loved 70s era reggae, Lee Perry, LKJ, later Black Uhuru. The only music for a long time that I really liked to dance to. But Marley was the one who got played on FM in the US, so it started with him for many. The Ambassador.

Maybe his "footprint" has been biggest among black musicians the world over--many cite him as an inspiration.
posted by aflakete at 1:09 AM on September 6, 2001


The event is to be held to cement a truce declared by the warring factions in Kingston's ghettoes. On April 22, the 12th anniversary of Selassie's visit to Jamaica, under a full moon, Bob is the final performer in an eight-hour concert at the National Stadium. At its triumphant finale, he calls onstage Prime Minister Manley and his political enemy Edward Seaga and makes them shake hands in front of 100,000 people. For his actions that night, and for his exemplary devotion to world unity and the struggle against oppression, Bob receives the United Nations' Peace Medal in New York in June, given "on behalf of 500 million Africans."

keithl makes a good point here. Very few figures in popular culture (Muhammad Ali is one) have had such impact on the politics of their society.

Jamaica goes into a state of shock: even Parliament recesses for the next ten days. On May 21 a state funeral is held with Edward Seaga, newly elected Prime Minister, ironically delivering Bob's eulogy. The biggest crowd in Caribbean history watches as Bob's body is driven home to his birthplace in Nine Mile, St. Ann.

As for the music -- most reggae seems pretty bad, to me, but Marley is magnificent. Along with Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, he's probably the most influential musician of the last half-century. Presley, Sinatra, Dylan, Lennon just built on what had come before, but Marley made the First World take note of Third World music, making it a force around the world.

It's similar to the way Bruce Lee, using his own unique charisma, and more or less by himself, introduced North America and Europe to Asian martial arts.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:47 AM on September 6, 2001


Bob's unabashed popularity has led to the commodification of his music and image, and in some ways prevents us from truly seeing how important of a figure he was.

His impact musically was astounding. He is undoubtedly the best reggae songwriter as well as one of the best songwriters to ever write a tune, and his talent helped bring reggae to the world.

Simple put, Bob was nothing less than a modern-day prophet. He rose up from a tiny island to bring a spiritual and socio/political message to the world in a beautiful form.
posted by gnutron at 10:35 AM on September 6, 2001


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