Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley (1945 - 1981) performs on stage, a microphone in his hand, late 1970s. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

On this date in 1981, Bob Marley, born Robert Nesta Marley, died at 36 years old…

When you think or hear reggae, most people automatically think, Bob Marley.  The icon was born on February 6, 1945 at the farm of his maternal grandfather in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, to Norval Sinclair Marley and Cedella Malcolm.

Bob Marley

Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley (1945 – 1981), circa 1980. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by fusing elements of reggae, ska and rocksteady, as well as his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Over the course of his career, Marley became known as a Rastafari icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality.

In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year but was instead a symptom of already-existing cancer. Marley turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated. He was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma.

His last concert occurred at the Stanley Theater (now called The Benedum Center For The Performing Arts) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 23, 1980. Just two days earlier he had collapsed during a jogging tour in Central Park and was brought to the hospital where he learned that his cancer had spread to his brain.

While Marley was flying home from Germany to Jamaica, his vital functions worsened. Marley died on May 11, 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami (now University of Miami Hospital). The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain caused his death.

His final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life”.

Usain Bolt

KINGSTON, JAMAICA – OCTOBER 17: Usain Bolt, the 200m and 400m sprinter poses in front of the Bob Marley statue outside the National Stadium on October 17, 2006 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on 21 May 1981, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition.

He was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his guitar.

In honor of Bob, enjoy two of our favorite Bob Marley classics…



…Rest easy, Bob.