A Timeline of Bob Marley's Career

6 February 1945

Robert Nesta Marley is born at Nine Miles, St. Ann's, Jamaica. Son of Norval Sinclair Marley, a fifty-something Liverpool-born captain in the British Army, and the teenage Cedalla Booker.  This birthdate is believed to be the correct although no birth certificate has ever been found.

December 1962

Marley, having left school at 14, and trained as a welder, is concentrating on music.  He records two singles, 'Judge Not (Unless you Judge Yourself)' and 'One Cup of Coffee' at a local studio by Leslie Kong , owner of the Beverley's label.

Forms the Wailing Rudeboys (later becoming The Wailin' Wailers) with Trenchtown pals, peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston; they are joined by Junior Braithwaite and female vocalists Beverly Kelso and Cherry Green.  The group undergoes extensive tuition with vocalists Joe Higgs and drummer Alvin 'Secco' Patterson, and records some 70-80 tracks for the Studio One label with Coxsone Dodd.

January 1964
The Wailers's first single, 'Simmer Down', reaches Number 1 in Jamaica's JBC Radio Chart.  the group begin to release a series of singles that feature regularly in the Jamaica charts.

February 1966
Marries Rita (Alpharita) Anderson, The next day he leaves his new bride and their first child to head to Wilmington, Delaware, USA, where he joins his mother.

November 1966
Marley returns to Jamaica with some savings, setting up a record store in Kingston with Rita.  Rita has converted to Rastafarianism, changing her name to Ganette Mander (meaning 'Paradise'), following the visit to Jamaica of Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia.


Reunites with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, releasing singles on the Beverly's label.  they cut a local hit, 'Bend Down Low', at Studio One and created their own label, Wail'M'Soul'M-but the venture is a commercial failure.  Marley hooks up with American artist Johnny Nash (who in 1972 storms the UK charts with Marley's

Composition ('Stir It Up') and Danny Sims, Nash's manager, signs Marley to Nash's JAD label.

November 1968
Marley has begun exploring Rastafarianism.  Meets Mortimo Planno of the Divine Theocratic Temple of Rastafari in Kingston.  Beginning of Rastafarian influence on Marley's music.  Bob, Bunny, Peter, and Rita record on Johnny Nash's JAD label produced by Arthur Jenkins.

Along with the rest of the Wailers, Marley fully embraces Rastafarianism.  They link up with top local producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry on their newly formed Tuff Gong label. Perry brings in the Barret brothers, Aston and Carlton, as the Wailers's rhythm section: they will become an integral part of the group's sound.


Debut Wailers album "Soul Rebel" released.

After a difficult, though creative period, The Wailers, finding themselves alone in London and effectively left to their own devices by Johnny Nash and Danny Sims, sign with Island Records's boss Chris Blackwell.

April 1973
Their debut release on Island is 'Catch AFire'-heavily promoted bythe label.  A UK tour, including key dates at the Speakeasy in London, attracts rock critics and other Island stars-the band's Uk profile is further raised by appearances on BBC Radio One and BBC TV's Old Grey Whistle Test.

July 1973
The Wailers appear at Max's Kansas City Club in New York (the centre of American new wave activity a year or so later), supporting Bruce Springsteen.

November 1973
Second Island album "Burnin" released.

August 1974
Eric Clapton reaches Number 1 in the US singles charts with his cover version of Marley's 'I Shot The Sheriff', taken from Clapton's 461 Ocean Boulevard'.

October 1974
"Natty Dread" released.  A significant difference o this album is that the group is now called Bob Marley and The Wailers.  Tosh and Livingston have gone solo, possibly upset that Marley is now being heavily promoted as the frontman.  Marley adds The I-Threes (female singers wife Rita, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths).  Additional musicians on the album include Al Anderson (guitar) and Bernard 'Touter' Harvey (keyboards).

July 1975

The new Wailers play two classic dates at the Lyceum London, immortalised later that year on the album "Live!" from which a liver version of 'No Woman No Cry' is also released.  The band has been enhanced by Junior Marvin (guitar), Tyrone Downie (keyboards, replacing Harvey) and Alvin 'Secco' Patterson on percussion, Marley's original rhythm tutor from the early sixties.

May 1976

The Wailers play the Roxy, Los Angeles-a concert later listed in Rolling Stone's 1987 feature Live! Twenty concerts that changed rock'n'roll.  "Rastaman Vibrations" released.

June 1976

Bob Marley And the Wailers headline a festival in Wales-20,000 people are expected, but because of heavy rain only 2,000 turn up.  Most shelter inside terraces so the group ends up playing to only around 100 people in the field.

December 1976

Gunmen break in to Marley's home in Kingston during the Jamaican general election campaign.  present are Marley, Rita, their manager Don Taylor, other friends and five children.  All the adults are shot and wounded-Marley is shot in his upper body and arm, Rita receives a head wound, friend Lewis Griffith is seriously wounded as is Don Taylor, but all survive.  Marley hides out in Jamaica's Blue Mountains after release from hospital.  Four days later he performs at the 'Smile Jamaica' festival, although he is unable to play guitar due to his wounds.  Rita sings, with her head in bandages.  The couple then take a break of eighteen months away from Jamaica.

Spring 1977

The Wailers are based in London, on and off, for three months while working on their next album, during which time Marley and Aston Barret are arrested and fined for possession of herb.

June 1977

"Exodus" is released-it reaches Number 8 in the UK album charts, later hitting Number 20 in the States.

September 1977

In Miami, a cancerous growth is diagnosed on one of Marley's toes-the press is informed that it is a foot injury received while playing soccer.

February 1978

The album "Kaya" is recorded in England: the single 'Is This Love' reaches the UK Top Ten.

April 1978

Bob Marley And The Wailers play the One Love Peace concert at Kingston's National Arena-an attempt to link Jamaica's feuding political parties; Marley symbolically joins hands of bitter rivals Michael Manley and Edward Seaga.

December 1978

Marley makes first, short trip to Rastafarianism's spiritual homeland Ethiopia.  The second Wailers live album "Babylon By Bus" is released.

February 1979

The Wailers are the first reggae act to play at Harlem's famous Apollo Theater, in front of a backdrop featuring an Ethiopian flag, a portrait of Haile Selassie, and a collage of Marcus Garvey and other black freedom fighters.

April 1980

Marley performs at Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations, before undertaking a major European tour, which includes a headlining appearance at the 'Summer Garden Party' at the Crystal Palace Bowl.

July 1980

The single "Could You Be Loved", taken from the album  "Uprising", reaches UK Number 5.

September 1980

During dates at Madison Square Garden, New York, supporting the Commodores, Marley collapses while jogging. Cancer is detected.

November 1980
Marley is baptized at Kingston's Ethiopian Orthodox Church, marking his conversion to Christian Rastafarianism: he takes the name Berhane Selassie.  The following month he flies to the Bavarian clinic of Dr. Josef  Issels.

11 May 1981

Marley dies at Miami's Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, days after arriving. He is buried on 21 May after lying in state at the National Arena, Kingston.

July 1981

A re-release of 'No Woman, No Cry' charts in the UK.

August 1981

A tribute to Marley in Montego Bay, Jamaica, forms part of the Fourth International Reggae Sunsplash Festival, including an appearance by the Melody Makers-four of Marley's children.

May 1984

The "Legend" compilation is released: it spends 12 weeks in total at Number 1 in the UK album charts, and also becomes a permanent fixture in the US album charts.

May 1986

The Marley Museum opens in Kingston on the site of his home, headquarters of Tuff Gong Records.

February 1990

6 February is declared a national holiday in Jamaica.

January 1994
Posthumous induction of Bob Marley to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.  The induction speech is given by U2 singer Bono.

This information was provided by Modern Icons: Bob Marley