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Nesta Robert Marley OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981), known as Bob Marley, was a Jamaican singer-songwriter who achieved international fame through a series of crossover reggae albums. Starting out in 1963 with the group the Wailers, he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide. The Wailers would go on to release some of the earliest reggae records with producer Lee Scratch Perry. After the Wailers disbanded in 1974, Marley pursued a solo career, though it would be another three years and the release of the album Exodus before he was propelled onto the international stage. A committed Rastafarian, his later music was infused with a profound sense of spirituality that was rare in the pop charts.
His best-known hits include "I Shot the Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", "Could You Be Loved", "Duppy Conqueror", "Stir It Up", "Get Up Stand Up", "Jamming", "Redemption Song", "One Love", and "Three Little Birds", as well as the posthumous releases "Buffalo Soldier" and "Iron Lion Zion". The compilation album Legend is reggae's best-selling album, going ten times Platinum, and selling 25 million copies worldwide.
Although Marley recognised his mixed ancestry, throughout his life and because of his beliefs, he self-identified as a black African, following the ideas of Pan-African leaders. Marley stated that his two biggest influences were Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, and Marcus Garvey. A central theme in Bob Marley's message was the repatriation of black people to Zion, which in his view was Ethiopia, or more generally, Africa. In songs such as "Survival", "Babylon System", and "Blackman Redemption", Marley sings about the struggles of Africans against oppression from the West or "Babylon".
Marley met Neville Livingston (a name that was later changed to Bunny Wailer) in Nine Mile. Bob's mother had a daughter with Bunny's father, who was a younger sister to both Bob and Bunny. Marley and Livingston had had something in common: they both started to play music together while Marley was still at elementary school. Marley left Nine Mile with his mother when he was 12 and moved to Trench Town, Kingston. While in Trench Town, he met up with Livingston again and they formed a musical collaboration with Joe Higgs, a local singer and devout Rastafari. At a jam session with Higgs and Livingston, Marley met Peter McIntosh (later known as Peter Tosh), who had similar musical ambitions. In 1962, Marley recorded his first two singles, "Judge Not" and "One Cup of Coffee", with local music producer Leslie Kong. These songs, released on the Beverley's label under the pseudonym of Bobby Martell, attracted little attention. The songs were later re-released on the box set Songs of Freedom, a posthumous collection of Marley's work.
Marley left Jamaica at the end of 1976, and after a month-long "recovery and writing" sojourn at the site of Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, arrived in England, where he spent two years in self-imposed exile.
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