With songs like No Woman, No Cry, Jammin’, and Buffalo Soldier, the word ‘musician’ might be the first one to cross your mind when you hear the name Bob Marley. But Bob Marley was so much more, including a philanthropist, known Rastafarian, and political activist. And some say it’s those activities that may have been ultimately responsible for his death.
Myths, Misconceptions and Conspiracies you’ll hear while smoking with friends
From the inspiration behind his music to the mystery shrouded around his death, there are almost as many myths, misconceptions and conspiracies surrounding Bob Marley as there are Bob Marley songs themselves. Here we break down a few and examine the truth behind this iconic legend.
Bob Marley assassinated by the CIA
It was in late 1976 when three unidentified gunmen burst into Marley’s home in Kingston, Jamaica. In a hail of bullets they shot Bob’s manager, Bob’s wife, Rita, and Bob Marley took a bullet in the arm that was clearly meant to end his life. Some say that this was an assassination attempt by the CIA and upon closer examination, that theory may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
At this time, Marley had been a Rastafarian for just over ten years, and his religious views were finding their way into his songs. Marley had also become involved with several different causes and some believed him to have political affiliations. While it wouldn’t be until much later, in 1980, when his most political song, Redemption Song, would be released, Marley was certainly beginning to use music as part of his activism. Conspiracy theorists state that the gunmen were part of the CIA and were sent to stop Marley’s music, and his activism.
There is proof that they’re not entirely wrong.
While the gunmen were never caught or charged with the attempted assassination, it is widely believed that one of the men was a known CIA operative. However, it’s just as widely known that he was a former CIA operative at the time, and was known to be a huge crime figure.
Nothing may have come from this story if it had ended there. Shortly after the assassination attempt, Marley was traveling with his band, The Wailers when a pair of boots was delivered as a gift to Bob. After trying on the boots, and screaming out in pain, a piece of pointed copper metal was found to be embedded in the toe of the boot. Conspiracy theorists heard of this and quickly pointed once again to the CIA, saying the metal had been injected with toxic carcinogens.
And once again, it’s not as incredible as it sounds. In fact, since that time it’s been estimated that the CIA used this exact same method in several assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.
Five months later, Marley was in France playing soccer when another player stepped on his injured toe, damaging it even more. After seeing a doctor, he was told the injury was cancerous and that he should have it amputated. When his Rastafarian beliefs prevented him from getting such treatment, eventually the cancer spread to his lungs and brain.
Tragically on May 11, 1981, at the young age of 36, Bob Marley passed away. While melanoma was the official cause of death, some will always wonder if it was truly natural causes that caused the melanoma.
He was the ultimate stoner
The image of Bob Marley as the ultimate stoner was perhaps never more pronounced than in April of 2016. It was at this time, on the 4/20 holiday, that Snapchat released a Bob Marley filter – a move that caused a great deal of controversy for many reasons. But in addition to being
controversial, the filter was also highly inaccurate.
That’s because, while wall posters and other propaganda may constantly be showing Marley as the ultimate “pot god”, his reasons for smoking marijuana were purely religious. Rastafarians believe that the herb is natural and comes from the ground, so it is good. Rastafarians even have passages within their scripture that point to the plant as being divine.
For Marley, cannabis opened the door to a spiritual world that he could only achieve when smoking or consuming, and that allowed him to be a better artist. While it’s true that Marley was very open about his marijuana use, and he even used it to market himself to a degree, it was always about the religious practices of consumption than it was about being constantly high.
He was just a pot smoking reggae musician
Bob Marley definitely smoked pot. And his reggae music is some of the best the world has ever heard. But, he was so much more than that.
Marley’s main message was of peace and love, and everything he did was in effort to spread that. At the One Love Peace Concert in April 22, 1978, Marley brought two battling political rivals on stage with him and had them shake hands – a massive gesture for two people that prior to the event were bitter enemies.
Today, Marley’s family runs the 1Love charity, which is a global non-profit charity that has completed 27 awareness projects and has raised over $1.3 million in donations that have helped people all over the world.
In addition to his philanthropy causes, Marley also became a Rastafarian after converting from Catholicism. These beliefs, namely the smoking of marijuana and the belief that Africa is the favored land of God, also started to appear in Marley’s lyrics as he got deeper into the religion. Most notably his song, Iron Lion Zion is a must-have in any Bob Marley collection.
No Woman No Cry royalties fund a soup kitchen in Jamaica
This one is 100% true, and it shows just how dedicated Bob Marley was to helping. On the album, Marley credited his neighborhood friend from childhood, Vincent Ford, with writing the
song. The royalties from that help Ford continue to run a soup kitchen in Jamaica today.
Bob Marley worked for Chrysler
While it’s largely known that in 1966 Bob Marley worked at a Chrysler plant in Delaware for seven months, many don’t know that this particular gig of Bob’s was the inspiration to one of his most popular songs. It’s thought by some that Night Shift may have been inspired by his time there. At Chrysler, Bob in fact did work the night shift as a fork lift operator.
Bob Marley will forever go down in history as one of the best musicians to ever live. But, he was so much more than that and he was also so much more than the face of cannabis use that he’s become to so many. He was also one of the biggest philanthropists of his time, and the charity work that he was known for continues on to this day.
Tragically, Bob Marley died much too young. On Monday he would have been 72, and would have undoubtedly still been using his life and music to entertain and educate the world.