On May 11, 1981, Reggae star Bob Marley died at the age of 36, leaving a musical legacy that remains popular still today. Get your reggae on with these 5 facts you probably didn’t know about Bob Marley...
He Worked for Chrysler and DuPont
A little-known, surprising fact about Marley is that he actually lived in the United States for a short time in the mid 1960s. He had initially followed his mother to Delaware after she remarried, living close to her in the town of Wilmington. While there, he surprisingly worked on the Chrysler assembly line and also as a lab assistant at DuPont. But his heart wasn't in either job and when his visa ran out, he moved back to Jamaica to continue with music with the Wailers. Wilmington holds a People's Festival every summer in Marley's honor.
The "Is This Love" Video Features a Very Young Naomi Campbell Naomi Campbell was just seven years old when she appeared in Marley’s video “Is This Love.” The video was shot in London at the Keskidee Community Centre in 1978, and shows Marley singing and playing with kids, including a young Naomi Campbell. The supermodel said of the experience, "I was just seven, and didn't know what it would involve. I didn't realize Bob Marley would be standing right next to me, tucking me under a blanket. He was the most handsome man, with beautiful bone structure; mellow, too, and soft-spoken, with a strong Jamaican accent, the kind I already knew from home."
The Wailers Were Originally 'The Teenagers' In 1963, Marley and his friends Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer started a band called The Teenagers. They later renamed themselves The Wailing Rudeboys, and then The Wailing Wailers and finally The Wailers. The young men spent much of their time listening to rhythm and blues on American radio stations, and used the word “wailers” as a reference to their social and economic position in Trenchtown, a deprived area where they were “born wailing.”
Marley Is a Top-Earning Dead Celebrity
Marley ranks number eight on the Forbes list of top-earning dead celebrities. In 2020, his estate earned $13 million– more than the likes of Prince, Marliyn Monroe and John Lennon. Bob Marley also saw his music streams soar last year—the reggae legend accumulated more than a billion streams globally. House of Marley, his line of speakers, turntables and headphones, and sales of T-shirts and lighters adorned with his likeness also added more than $3 million to his coffers.
Marley Died From Cancer That Started in His Toe Marley died at age 36 from a rare form of cancer called acral melanoma that began under his toenail. Acral melanoma forms on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under a nail and is not caused by sun exposure. Although he was advised to have the toe removed, he refused, and the cancer spread quickly, reaching his lungs, brain and other parts of his body. Marley was Rastafarian and cited his religious beliefs as the reason he refused the amputation, and by the time he sought medical treatment, it was too late.
An Attempt Was Made on Marley’s Life
Marley had been warned to not perform in Jamaica because of the political corruption of the times. On December 3, 1976, armed gunmen stormed Marley’s Hope Road in a politically-motivated assassination attempt that saw him shot in the chest and arm. Four others, including his wife and manager were also shot. Despite his injuries, it didn’t deter him from performing several days later.