12 Little Known Facts About Bob Marley
Robert Nesta Marley
This was Bob’s birth name, not Robert Nesta Marley as popularly believed. In fact, he was usually called “Lester” as Nesta wasn’t a common name.
The White Army Captain’s Son
Bob Marley is the son of Norval Marley, a white Jamaican army captain whose family was from England, and Sidilla Malcolm, now known as Cedella Booker, was from Nine Mile in the hills of St. Ann, Jamaica. Norval served in World War 1 and was a member of the Nigerian Police Force before becoming a plantation overseer in Jamaica.
An Abandoned Boy
Marley’s father relocated him to Kingston at age six, claiming it was for better education and family support. He was soon left as an orphan. His mother hastily retrieved him and returned to Nine Mile Hills.
The Beginning of the Wailers
Neville ‘Bunny’ Livingston (a founding member of the Wailers) and Bob Marley met at Stephney All Age school and have the same sister. When Marley’s mother, Cedella, moved to Kingston, she began dating Toddy Livingston, Neville’s father. Pearl Livingston is the child they had together.
Bob’s First Gig as a Welder
By 15 years of age, Bob was done with school and employed as an apprentice welder. He hung up his welding torch when a sliver of metal shard got stuck in his eye and had to be removed by medical professionals. After this, it was all music.
The Wailers Find Their Third
Joe Higgs of the Jamaican duo 'Higgs and Wilson' operated an evening music session in Third Street (Trench Town). It was here that Bob was to hone his craft under the keen tutelage of Higgs, who also introduced Marley and Livingston to Winston Hubert McIntosh (Peter Tosh).
Bob’s First Taste of Music
It was through Bob's welding connections (Cliff & Dekker) that he was recommended to Leslie Kong, owner of Beverley's Label, to create his first two solo records: 'Judge Not' and it's B-Side, 'Do You Still Love Me' (1962). By 1964, after this unsuccessful attempt, Bob tried his luck with 'The Wailers.'
Bob’s First of the Marley Tribe
Bob's first offspring is the little-known Imani Carole (Mother: Cheryl Murray), born in 1963 when Bob was 18.
The Wailers’ First Hit
The early Wailers set consisted of Marley, Tosh, Bunny, and Junior Braithwaite (Lead singer), Cherry Smith and Beverly Kelsoe. They auditioned for Sir Coxone, who wasn't impressed with them until he heard 'Simmer Down.' 'Simmer Down' became an instant hit, though on the standard Coxone five-year contract, they only made 20 pound per record to divide amongst themselves.
The Curious Case of the Rita-Bob Wedding
In February 1966, at age 21, Bob married Alvarita 'Rita' Anderson, but he never confirmed the marriage publically. Two days after they wed, Bob departed for Wilmington, Delaware to join his mother, Cedella. Curiously, neither Peter Tosh nor Bunny was invited to the wedding.
Tuff Gong is Born
In Wilmington, Bob worked in the Chrysler plant as a forklift operator among other odd jobs. With $700 USD, he returned to Jamaica to start a record label. What resulted was the Tuff Gong label.
Bob’s Cursed Toe
Bob stubbed his right toe while playing at the river. Initially, the toe refused to heal. When it did, it became black. As an adult, he injured it with a farming hoe and again at a football game. He continued to perform with the unhealing wound for years, often bleeding after his many on-stage acrobatics. In 1977, Bob learned he had melanoma cancer. The recommendation was for the toe to be removed.