1. February 6th is Bob’s birthday and is also Bob Marley Day in Canada.
In his proclamation, Mayor Rob Ford announced that Bob Marley is “one of the greatest ambassadors of peace the world has seen.” Ford also encouraged awareness towards human rights across the world.
2. Bob grew up poor. He always went to bed hungry and walked around town barefoot.
3. But that didn’t stop Bob from playing football, making music and being awesome in general.
4. He’s been quoted as saying, “Football is freedom, a whole universe. Me love it because you have to be skillful to play it.”
Trevor Wyatt, the UK distributor for Island Records, was one of the only people who knew how good Marley was at the sport: “Trying to get the ball off him… was just hopeless. Because Bob was the person he was, the ball always came to him. He was the midfield general, if you like, and they called him Skipper. They were so good, it was like playing Brazil.”
5. At 21, Bob lived in Delaware for seven months where he worked the night shift at a Chrysler plant.
6. He was in a serious romantic relationship with Miss World 1976.
Cindy Breakspeare, former Ms. World and Ms. Jamaica, is also the mother of Grammy-award winning musician Damien Marley. Bob Marley’s tracks “Waiting In Vain,” “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” and “She Used To Call Me Dada” were inspired by Cindy.
7. There are a lot of songs credited to Marley online… but they’re not actually sung by him.
8. His electric act was so good that it got him fired from a Sly and the Family Stone tour.
In 1973, Sly Stone invited Marley and the Wailers on a 17 city tour. Sly dismissed his opening act only after four shows, they were getting all the attention from crowds. Three years later, his act would grace the cover of Rolling Stone and be named the “Band of the Year.”
10. His nickname was “white boy.”
Bob’s father Norval Sinclair Marley was a white British naval captain, while Bob’s mom, was a young Jamaican girl named Cedella. Bob was rejected by most people in his neighborhood for his mixed race, but it helped him develop the philosophy, “I’m not on the white man’s side, or the black man’s side. I’m on God’s side.”
11. Marley, his wife, and his manager were all shot by an unidentified gunman inside Marley’s home.
The incident occurred two days before the 1976 “Smile Jamaica” concert promoting peace during the country’s national elections.
13. His recording label Tuff Gong is still going strong.
Tuff Gong was a nickname Bob earned for himself in the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown.
14. His album Legend has remained on the Billboard charts for the second longest-charting of all time.
Legend has kept the title while topping every major reggae chart on iTunes, and its only the 17th album to exceed 10 million sales.
15. The royalties from “No Woman No Cry” are sent directly to a soup kitchen in Jamaica.
Marley attributed the songwriting credits to Vincent Ford, a neighborhood friend of Marley’s who ran a soup kitchen in Kingston, Jamaica. The royalty checks enabled Ford to continue running the kitchen.
Marley was concerned about a previous songwriting contract he had signed with producer Danny Sims of Cayman Music. By insuring the rights to his songs to his family and friends, he could always provide for them.
16. His songs are an inspiration for musical theatre.
Cedella Marley, Bob’s eldest daughter, wrote the book “Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.” The Off-Broadway show adapted by Michael J. Bobbitt and Nick Olcott will open at the New Victory Theater in New York on Feb. 7th.
And it seems pretty awesome.
17. His charities are still giving back.
1Love is a global non-profit started by the Marley family. The foundation has completed 27 awareness projects resulting in more $1.3 million in donations.
18. His last words to his son Ziggy were, “Money can’t buy life.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Bob met Tosh in Delaware, but he actually met him before moving. Additionally, Cedilla Marley did not write the play “Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.” The play is Michael J. Bobbitt and Nick Olcott’s adaptation of Cedella’s book of the same name.