Remembering Bob Marley
By the time Bob Marley passed in 1981, he was one of the world's biggest superstars, whose legendary status as a reggae artist, freedom fighter, and folk hero was greater than the music he made. Ten days after his death, the Jamaican government held a state funeral in recognition of the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley O.M. at the National Arena, where a groundswell – including Bob’s mother Cedella, the Queen of England’s official representative, and the formal guard of the Ethiopian Orthodox church – gathered to pay homage while media from around the world bore witness. Prime Minister Edward Seaga delivered a eulogy while Allan "Skill" Cole, renown Jamaican footballer and one of Bob’s closest friends, read from the Bible. The solemn requiem was transformed into a jubilant jam session once the I-Threes (including Bob’s wife Rita) took to the stage and sang "Rastaman Chant," bringing the crowd to its feet while Bob’s young sons Ziggy and Stephen began a celebratory dance. As a procession drove his coffin to the village of Nine Mile where he was born 36 years earlier, throngs of Jamaicans lined the streets and rooftops to salute the man better known as Tuff Gong. His bronze coffin was laid to rest in a hilltop mausoleum painted in red, gold, and green.
Although he is no longer physically among us, his message and his music are still very much alive. To this day Bob’s image endures – a legacy one step beyond mere icon – as the embodiment of coolness, consciousness, and metaphysical conviction. His is remembered as one of the Caribbean’s finest poets who channeled his own unique frequency. We celebrate the life, spirit, and triumphs of Bob Marley by revisiting May 21, 1981, with a look back at some vintage clips of a remarkable day of music, salutation, and full Rasta regalia.