Dirt Nap City

Who Was Bob Marley?

February 01, 2024 Dirt Nap City Season 3 Episode 38
Dirt Nap City
Who Was Bob Marley?
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Show Notes Transcript

Bob Marley is considered one of the greatest musical pioneers ever. He uniquely blended  elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, and had a very distinct vocal and songwriting style. His father was an officer in the British Royal Navy and his mother was from a farm on Jamaica. He was raised in the Trench Town area of Jamaica and grew up around other people like Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, who shared his love for music. While born Catholic, he eventually converted to Rastafarian and became a voice of peace and love through his music. While he died at an early age, his music lives on and he is still remembered as one of the greats.

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Kelly:

Hello, everybody, welcome to another episode of dirt nap city. We're already into because now we're doing video as well as audio. Now we are making some little interstitial content stuff in season three. So if you haven't already followed, subscribe, do that now. But I want to Houston right now. And we're very excited to be kicking it off. How's it going? Alex?

Alex:

Good. We've heard from the people and they want more of us. So we're giving you more of us?

Kelly:

Yeah. And you're more gonna get a lot more of us. Yeah. That's the plan.

Alex:

And there is no unsubscribe button.

Kelly:

Yeah, once you're subscribed your subscriber for life, it's random. If you really

Alex:

And if you don't listen, we're gonna start knocking on your door and just doing the podcast

Kelly:

And throwing throwing money in Yeah, yeah, almost like almost like carolers like Christmas.

Alex:

that if you're not downloading, then you just forgot. So we're gonna come find you. Yeah,

Kelly:

because you know, who doesn't want to know about interesting dead people? I know, everyone. I It's amazing how quickly we've kind of like gone through these and we're starting to catch our sponsor if you're interested in sponsoring us. You can of course email not at dirt nap city. Do you That's been a challenge for us to figure out? Yeah,

Alex:

I mean, we started with I think we got off a bad for an episode two when we kept emphasizing wallpaper paste. Yeah, that wasn't that didn't help us. No,

Kelly:

and a lot of fast food companies that were considering us at that point dropped us. We were

Alex:

did a Ray Kroc episode where we talked about how we didn't Well, no, actually you you talked the trash Yeah,

Kelly:

she called it MC disgusting. But, but if anybody's got ideas, you know, I don't, I don't do run a funeral home, and you're interested in sponsoring us, we might take you up on it.

Alex:

Yeah, I mean, any any anybody in the in the death care industry is welcome to sponsor us. It Oh,

Kelly:

no, no, it's part of life, man. Last part. Well, speaking of life, I've got somebody today, He was born in 1945, February 6, and he died in 1981. So like I said, a short but rich life and fairly niche genre, but was probably considered the best or king of that genre.

Alex:

Hmm. So are we talking rock and roll at all? Adjacent rock and roll adjacent. So it's not Randy

Kelly:

No, no. That's good guess is that he? I

Alex:

think that was about 1981.

Kelly:

Yeah, he died in 81. He is world famous, I'd say a lot more famous than Randy Rhoads. you know, just about anybody who lives in Western culture knows this guy's name. And he was not these guys from another country, close to the United States, but not in the United States. And called the Order of Merit.

Alex:

Hmm, so this must be Canada. The other direction or Jamaica? Bob Marley?

Kelly:

Yes. Yes, he was the Order of Merit. His name was actually Robert. Nesta Marley.

Alex:

I love Bob Marley. And I don't know if you and I have ever talked about Bob Marley before, quite a bit. Still, you

Kelly:

can always throw that on, and it's never gonna it's never really going to piss anybody off.

Alex:

I think he transcends time. Never sounds dated. And it will always always make you feel

Kelly:

it's it's just one of those things that puts a smile on your face generally. You know, was definitely an advocate for justice. And, you know, fairness and equality, and a lot of things was into it pretty early on. But yeah, he was. I was also gonna the other two clues I was gonna lot of soccer throughout his life, not whatnot. And his poster is probably one of the most

Alex:

Is that a postage stamp as well in Jamaica? And you know,

Kelly:

yeah, I think so. Well, as I said, he, he actually was awarded the Order of Merit, and that citizens of other countries who have, who have achieved distinction in science, arts, literature, cool about this award, and interesting is, there can only be or the there can be no more than 15 for someone else to get the Order of Merit. And

Alex:

it's only in Jamaica. It's in Jamaica. Yeah. So I assume Usain Bolt probably has won. And some that's really cool. I can't wait to hear about Bob Marley.

Kelly:

And it's never given by more than two people in a single year. So there's never given to basically, two people could win it. But then once they're 15, living people with om, and then they Marley, comma om.

Alex:

Like did he get it posthumously? Or did he know that? Did he ever get to heat

Kelly:

he did actually get he got a lot of stuff posthumously, because he did die. You know, as I be? 3636 years old. Yeah. So he was born Robert Nesta Marley, Om. He was of course, the singer reggae music. And he really kind of came into at a time when reggae was developing as a as a genre. you know, this kind of classical African inspired music. skiffle was a thing. That's right, you Now he was born Catholic, but he became a Rastafarian. And you know, people kind of joke lot of pot and that's involved in it. But it is actually an Abrahamic religion that was developed because there it's considered a newer social movement and religion, but it doesn't really have leader of the church. The Rastafari or Rastafarians or rosters were basically believed God, it's referred to as jaw, and that jaw lives partially in every person. So we are all

Alex:

gym. Okay.

Kelly:

Now, now, I also mentioned it's an Abrahamic religion. Abrahamic I think I'm saying thought that was kind of interesting. I don't know. Don't side yeah, I didn't either. So it's a Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. And they're basically centered around the worship of the god patriarch of everybody else that came in the scriptures in the in the Qur'an in the Bible. And again, believed in a god, that was one God, but took it a little bit differently, because they going on, and still maybe go on in Jamaica these days, which was kind of a little more ritualistic

Alex:

Was he a very religious guy? Yes,

Kelly:

yes. Now, you know, he was biracial. I did not know that. Yeah, so Bob Marley was biracial. Marley, and a woman named Selda, Malcolm. And Norvell Marley was actually from England, and he married. I think it's Adela sorry. So della, not Selda so della Malcolm, she was an average basically working at a plantation that he was overseen, and he actually married her. He married captain in the British Navy. And he left like he kind of wasn't really around. So he, he had this he sent money back to them. He was not, not present, but also didn't abandon them kind of Marley's religious beliefs because he was mixed race. He was often called white boy, which in a tough thing. Bob Marley said this growing up, and he said, he developed his philosophy to say, side. I'm on God's side.

Alex:

was a lot of his music religious to the religious messages, or were they kind of on?

Kelly:

I think, I think is they were religious in the Rastafarian sense, right? And in the Rasta directed to the beliefs of the Rasta more than like traditional Catholicism or Christianity, as religious, they were spiritual, but they weren't like, traditional Christian religious, right.

Alex:

They weren't gospel music.

Kelly:

Early on, Bob Marley was running around with people like Peter Tosh. And interestingly, Like his last name was really okay. And he Yeah, it was Winston Hubert Macintosh. But you know, is heard of Peter Tosh. Well, he was one of Bob Marley's original friends and one of the original

Alex:

What about Jimmy Cliff? Was he part of that crew?

Kelly:

He was not, but they ended up actually replacing Jimmy Cliff in on Island Records. When Cliff had moved off of that label. And so they took it took the place that they were rivals. No, group, because they all kind of know each other. I mean, Jamaica is not a big island, right. And so, The teenagers, and that was Peter Tosh, buddy whalers. Bob Marley. It's

Alex:

a funny name. It sounds like an American Bandstand kind of, you know, clean cut white boys

Kelly:

Yeah. Well, here's, here's the, here's the kind of ironic part about it. Because of where influenced by the US because radio stations could reach Jamaica. Sure, right. It's close enough to American music American. There wasn't hip hop at the time, but American blues, American soul music, influence them. So in 1963, they formed the teenagers. Well, they ended up changing their name hear this sometimes with do you ever listen to the specials? No. Okay. They have a song called a called rude boys. And they were sort of a music phenomenon. They were kind of guys that would get to that whaling to the whaling rude boys was a tribute to those those rude boys at shows. They version of skinheads or something

Alex:

or Okay, so like, mosh pits and yeah, stuff. Yeah.

Kelly:

I mean, that wasn't, it wasn't that, but it's what eventually became that. So they were the And then they became the wailing Wailers. That's a little redundant. Yeah, they decided to change it again, three of those really big named people. Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh all in

Alex:

was bunny why there's way there's name bunny Wailer. Like no,

Kelly:

his name was actual Neville isn't named was actually Neville Livingston. Oh, totally. Totally, place called Trenchtown, which is a neighborhood in Kingston, and you probably heard Trenchtown song. They reference it quite a bit. It's like being from Harlem, or from some part of New York

Alex:

know or something. Bed Stuy.

Kelly:

They were in Trenchtown, they actually recorded together early on. And we're, like I United States because the radio station could could radio stations could meet it. And they were more of a vocal harmony group. But they started to play instruments learn how to play the take off. From like, 1962 to 1972. The band recorded several songs and had a couple of hits called one cup of coffee. One called Do you still love me? And one called Terror, but they're not song called simmer down. Do you know that when? An old one? Maybe I do. It's been it's been sampled a

Alex:

I was just gonna say I probably know it further.

Kelly:

Simmer down, simmer down. Anyway, big hit 1964. So 70,000 copies in Jamaica, you know, and fame. But it wasn't it wasn't an international hit. It was just kind of more of a regional and Anderson, and they actually moved to the United States for a little while, because Marley's mother Wilmington, Delaware. And so they lived in Rita and Marley, Rita and Bob Marley lived in during that time, Bob Marley was he worked at a DuPont lab. And he was a lab assistant. He was an operator. So you mentioned saying that you had worked with Bob Marley and yeah,

Alex:

I mean, I've been to Wilmington, Delaware, and DuPont, is everything in Wilmington, Delaware. work at DuPont. But yeah, can you imagine driving a forklift with Bob Marley?

Kelly:

Yeah, yeah, not even know who the guy is. And then all of a sudden, you're hearing all these 6768, they were only in Wilmington for a little while. And that's around the time when reggae was with Toots and the Maytals. Right, the the reggae band, they had a song called do the reggae. And Marley and the Wailers adopted was was based a little bit on Toots and the Maytals. And they had, success, but nothing really huge took off until the 70s. And that's when they signed with CBS singer named Johnny Nash. And they were in London, and they met a guy named Chris Blackwell. Now, original reggae songs that they had recorded back in Jamaica. And they were kind of interested in sharing or something because they weren't making any money off of this. Well, at the time. Chris he said, I'll do you one better, why don't I sign you to Island Records. And as you mentioned So they were they were trying to get a new band to be to take Jimmy Cliff's space during the early said about them was I in this is a quote, I was dealing with rock music, which was really rebel break Jamaican music to the to the masses, but you needed someone who had that image. And when Bob they recorded an album called catch fire on Island Records. And that album was kind of their first

Alex:

wasn't Elton John Island Records or Eric Clapton? Or like those were the rock guys I think

Kelly:

Well, interesting. You say that because one of the one of the things that really helped them not catch fire catch a fire. One of the things that really helped them take off was that they had wrote it and recorded it. Well, Eric Clapton covered that and So that was kind of the first even though it was a cover song. And then on that same album, well, no. And then right after that woman, no cry, right? You've heard that song many times, or x and that was kind of a big breakout

Alex:

Did you hear which version of I shot the sheriff Did you hear first?

Kelly:

I think I heard the Eric Clapton version for

Alex:

Sam. Yeah, for years. And then I don't I really didn't get turned on to Bob Marley, was in college. And I was like, I probably didn't even know that that was his song. I probably better than the Eric Clapton version, I think.

Kelly:

Yeah, yeah, it definitely. It's the one I know like in my head right now I'm hearing the Bob unwittingly, Eric Clapton did a big favor to Bob Marley for baking, not only not only making him, royalties and getting attention, but also kind of legitimizing him as a songwriter, right?

Alex:

Yeah. And it's funny because the songs aren't that different, like the two versions Clapton's version reggae either. There's just enough difference where it's a different style of

Kelly:

I don't think that Eric Clapton really did anything too innovative with the song. No,

Alex:

that's what I'm saying. They didn't really change it much. But I wouldn't call it reggae or whatever. It lost some of its maybe that's why I don't like the version as much. I think the the more soul. Maybe I don't know what the word well,

Kelly:

it feels, to me, the Bob Marley versions feels or the whalers version feels more like a I don't know, kind of a quirky, almost. I don't know, almost like a gimmicky kind of song

Alex:

or a retelling of someone else's story of best, right. Yeah. Not their own story. Yeah.

Kelly:

So as I was saying, Chris, Chris Blackwell, I don't know if he was the owner of Island role was at Island Records, but he is the one that signed them to Island Records. He also he also and the Wailers. And that became their headquarters. And interestingly, Bob Marley recorded there. And do you remember the name of their studio? I think as soon as I say it, you'll Tuff Gong.

Alex:

Oh, no, I

Kelly:

hadn't heard that. OTU FFG OMG. I just remember seeing that logo on records. And it started that was popular in Jamaica. And then, you know, had some had some hits. But they were going to travel and open for Sly and the Family Stone, which was hugely popular during the 60s and four shows, they were cut from the tour, because they were becoming more popular than Sly and the them. And I guess Sly and the Family Stone didn't like that and said, Nope, can't. Can't go with

Alex:

Well, that's interesting. Sly and the Family Stone were really interesting band that would have they would like sometimes not show up for gigs. Or show up in no condition to play or whatever. But Family Stone. It's in that Rolling Stone movie give me shelter. Yeah, but the ultimate tour, sign that set. It's pretty cool.

Kelly:

And they're in there on point.

Alex:

They are and they and apparently that's one of the better shows that usually they would good because they weren't no condition. But that's pretty good. Yeah, pretty

Kelly:

sure. Yeah. Which is a shame because I think that's not an uncommon thing in music, much sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. So the band actually disbanded the Wailers in 1974. However, when it became Bob Marley and whalers. So before before that it had been just the Wailers. And it with bunny Wailer Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. So

Alex:

the original I shot the sheriff was just the whalers. Yes,

Kelly:

it was not Bob Marley and the Wailers. On that Katchafire album. So then something really the Wailers were set to play a free concert that was organized by the Jamaican Prime Minister pretty intense stuff going on between political groups in Jamaica at the time, like, you know, Ireland and Ireland, you know, that kind of stuff, like people killing each other and stuff. Well, Marley, Rita Marley and Don Taylor, right before this show was supposed to happen, because they side of the political spectrum. You know, for this, Michael Manley supporting the Prime that kind of made sense that they would think that, but Rita and Don Taylor, their manager, so actually pretty seriously injured, recovered. But Bob Marley was shot in the chest and arm and was ended up playing this show two days after he got shot by this guy. Wow. Which is pretty awesome. So

Alex:

it wasn't quite a civil war, but it was definitely his political factions going on, and a

Kelly:

Yep, yep. And the hope, the hope point, or suppose the point of that concert was to sort of know too much more about it. But that was sort of the point of it. And obviously, you know, the So after this, after this, incident, 1976 Bob Marley left Jamaica, went to the Bahamas, to just probably the mental trauma of that, and then actually ended up going to England for two years. England, Exodus and Kaya. And he exodus was on the British album, top charts for 56 consecutive probably know that because that's on legend, jamming, waiting in vain. One love, which was arrested in London for possession of cannabis, and convicted, actually. And he ended up returning to political unrest going on. And he tried to sort of bring people together by having the two leaders of hand on stage, like was

Alex:

he extradited? When When did he come back? Because he was convicted? And they sent him back

Kelly:

don't know. I don't think so. I think he I think he, you know, he kind of got involved in the very important to him, or, you know, marijuana was very important to him as part of that. And so don't know. I'm not sure what the reason was, but he ended up having mibr. I mentioned Michael that first concert at this later concert. He had Michael Manley, and the political rival whose name he was trying to become someone to be a peacemaker, you know, in the country that he the name Bob Marley and the Wailers. And they had all kinds of all kinds of awards and credentials a couple of things. And like you said, some of these were posthumously. He received the United something to do with what I was just talking about. People on stage. The album legend became

Alex:

What year did that come on to that? Come on after he died? 84 Yeah, and 81. So that's what record is like Dark Side of the Moon, where, decade after decade after decade, people are still selling albums of all time. Yes,

Kelly:

yes, actually, it is. It's still 1000s of units, you know, 1000s of downloads, I guess these on to it. He, as I said, was given the Order of Merit posthumously, by Jamaica. He was inducted in

Alex:

What year? What year was inducted? 94.

Kelly:

Wow. Rolling Stone ranked him number 11 on its list of Greatest Artists of All Time. And all time.

Alex:

seems low.

Kelly:

Well, you mean, number 11 for greatest artists? No, no.

Alex:

98

Kelly:

Oh, for singers. I don't know that. He was like, you know, known for his singing. I mean, it

Alex:

I'll bet you there's not 97 better singers.

Kelly:

Okay, okay. BBC proclaimed Marley's, one love as a song of the millennium. In 2001, he was Grammys. And he was inducted into the black music and entertainment Walk of Fame. And he has a star pretty long and storied history. He

Alex:

didn't mention three little birds. Which I Yeah, is a song that's that kind of transcends movie or you'll hear it commercial in a commercial or something. And that's one of those songs, that it changes your mood, you know? Yeah, it's it's probably one of my top favorite songs out there.

Kelly:

yeah. No, I mean, it's, it's, it was the original Don't worry, be happy, right? Yeah. And uprising, and that had the redemption song, which, you know, is on the legend album. And there's also lot of new mixes of those songs that were different than the originals, including Buffalo songs. And I think the version of legend is like a different mix of all of it. He ended up and as I you know, as they called it over there. He very much loved that sport. He loved he followed a yeah, Pele was Brazilian, right. So he ended up having this pain in his toe. And when they did a need needless melanoma. And this is something that is different than other melanoma because it exposed to the sun, which is what most melanoma is caused by. This is something that is more common very well known disease at the time. They actually suggested that he amputate his toe now this was ended up having a skin graft to kind of like replace the skin they pull the skin off and painful stuff. But that ended up being what was his downfall because he had cancer in that toe up in 1980 They did a tour of Europe played their biggest show to 100,000 people in Milan, Italy, played at Madison Square Garden and in New York. Did they record it? Was that a record? Madison

Alex:

that a like live album? I don't know. I feel like it would be heard that or something?

Kelly:

Sure. They recorded everything and probably if there's money to be made,

Alex:

released it later, that would have been some show to go to. Yeah,

Kelly:

yeah. I mean, just to have seen I was 11 in 81. So

Alex:

he didn't have a lot of American concerts then. No,

Kelly:

no. Well, he did that tour, like I said, with Sly and the Family Stone. But that got cut 1980. After that Madison Square Garden concert, he collapsed while jogging in Central Park was taken the cancer had spread to his brain because of liver graft. Because because of the, the melanoma

Alex:

if they had amputated it that might not have spread, right? Is that what you're saying? Nobody

Kelly:

knows. Right? But that would have maybe given him a better chance of living longer,

Alex:

and these days, probably wouldn't even have been a fatal thing. Yeah,

Kelly:

they might not have needed to amputate, but he also felt like amputating part of his body

Alex:

Man, what a what a? What a shame. So 36 years old, and really just in the in the prime of

Kelly:

Yeah. Yeah. So he died on May 11. At 36. And supposedly his final words to his son, Ziggy, Don't let me down.

Alex:

I love that. I love that. And Ziggy had a had a little career.

Kelly:

Yeah, yeah, he had a dragonfly I think a song, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. Was that ended up having a state funeral in Jamaica on May 21. And the prime minister at the time, actually, you know, that not not manly, but the other guy Edward Signia. gave his eulogy said his voice was Marley was never seen, he was experienced, which left an indelible imprint on each encounter. Such of the collective consciousness of the nation.

Alex:

Yeah, it's crazy. When you say that, I think that I'm thinking that you don't, you don't see a him singing, you can just, you can hear him. And you can picture that one picture that you talked than that, he might as well have been from the 1800s because you just don't see any film of him.

Kelly:

He wasn't as documented as other artists. That's a good way to put

Alex:

it. Yeah, yeah. And even though and we didn't know about them, or at least I said, I gone. Yep, same here. That's it's what a unique life.

Kelly:

Yeah, yeah. He he definitely. You know, he called his music, rebel music. And it was was, rock'n'roll. Well, he kind of turned that reggae that ska, although styles into music that message. And but it was never just like, sit back and take it right. There was a lot of a lot of was one of his cool things he did, but he did it in a way that you could you could vibe to, you the head by his message.

Alex:

Definitely, definitely. It's so interesting. Man. what a what a great figure to talk about.

Kelly:

Yeah, so just to wrap up, you can still actually find Bob Marley or I guess one of his Marley Natural. So you can buy heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains that were supposedly the very assessories, creams, lotions, etc. And so if you just go to Marley Natural, and you'll see the because you and I've talked about this before. I think you made a list of people. I think it was money as dead celebrities. Oh yeah. In 2018 Forbes Magazine listed him as the fifth highest earning that's been

Alex:

so like, you've got yourself Elvis John Lennon and guys like that he's right up there with

Kelly:

yeah, I think it's because because there is still a very steady I wouldn't say like, you know, definitely a steady growth of people who listen to him and go, Oh, I can dig that, you know? Yes. something that I seek out to listen to all the time. But when I'm in the mood for it, or even if Bob Marley and the Wailers, I will never complain. It's always it always feels right.

Alex:

Yes. And you know, there's, there's a reggae channel on Sirius XM. But I feel like maybe it's that specific tenure genre that you're talking about. But it seems like every song is either Bob Tosh, and then they just start over, it doesn't seem like the music's evolved at all, I'm sure more electronic versions of that stuff that they are or Latin influenced or whatever. But on those they're playing all the time, that, like you say, it never feels wrong, does it?

Kelly:

I think it was, especially at that time in the in the 60s 70s. And maybe it became more of genre on that originated on a fairly small island, you know, with a small, very fairly small

Alex:

I wonder if he had lived or if he had been become more, come to America more if that music play Woodstock or anything. And he was around then. And he was he could have been friends with guys. Right? And yeah, I wonder if his music would have become more rock or if other music would have more people. If that style would have been more popular. It was just kind of this isolated thing.

Kelly:

literally, literally born on an island, right that the music was you know, and so it with the, with technology and with the way people can communicate now and social media and all that of things to just be in their own little world. Right.

Alex:

I mean, legend is is a great record, but it's like a best. It's a greatest hits record. those, you know,

Kelly:

yeah. And he didn't even live long enough to have it. It came out after he died. And

Alex:

he's been dead longer than than he was alive. You know? Yeah,

Kelly:

yeah. No, it's Bob Marley. i And by the way, I want to just I probably should have started Bob Marley. I'm very much a casual, maybe slightly more than casual Bob Marley fan, but I'm not an was looking through my list of people that I think fit our criteria of interesting dead people that name right. I think a lot of people maybe have heard the name and they know he was a reggae him being biracial and about his spiritual beliefs and getting shots I mean, that's all stuff that

Alex:

and hopefully if you only know him from like, being a pot smoker hopefully, you'll right start with ledge I mean, just listen to a legend. From beginning to end.

Kelly:

Be sure to take a big bong hit first.

Alex:

It is outstanding music.

Kelly:

It is it is high or not. It is high on life. All right, Alex Well, that's Mr. Marley. Not I'm glad you enjoyed it. I always love it when you're enthusiastic from the outset. Like you know yeah, that always makes me know it's gonna be

Alex:

a good episode. Like you said, Who doesn't love?

Kelly:

Yeah, you crazy if you don't. Alright, thanks, everybody. We'll talk to you in a week or