Those who burn twice as hot last half as long; that’s the saying that goes along with nearly every tragically short life that seems like it was taken far too early.

It’s attributed to rock stars, movie stars, celebrities in general, and the promising young men and women who died in the line of essential duties for their fellow man.

For some, it’s painfully true; for others, it casts a curiously long shadow on the life that was lived, which lingers long past their initial passing. But none blazed quite so hot and sputtered out quite as sad as Bob Marley.

The face of Jamaican music and creator of Reggae, Bob Marley’s untimely death at the age of 36 struck his nation and a world worth of fans with discontent.

Despite his rise to not worry about something through his calming, soothing music, there was much consternation over his death from his friends who knew him as a laid-back freedom fighter and soulful revolutionary.

The mystery of his death shook the Reggae world in a turbulent time, but his legacy of music lived on despite the bad times, allowing him to become a solid image of peace and love long after he’s passed.

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10 /10 Soul Rebel

Robert Nesta Marley was born in 1945 in then British Jamaica.

He dropped out of school at 14 to focus on music after moving to Kingston. He was only ever interested in music and occasionally in soccer and the Rastafari movement starting in the 1960s.

His image has been cemented as a loving, friendly, relaxed cannabis enjoyer, which was all true, but he was also a deeply passionate man with strong African roots.


9 /10 Wailing Wailers

Marley’s long-lasting band started as the Wailing Wailers, which later became Bob Marley and the Wailers after a successive number of hits. They began earnestly in 1962 as a very different group with a toned-down sort of style.

They developed, over time, into a ubiquitous and unique reggae sound, which was initially started by The Maytals in their song Do The Reggay.

Bob Marley became one of the biggest stars of this type of music, which celebrated Jamaican pride and heritage through its slow, rhythmic beats.

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8 /10 Survival

Marley continued to pursue success ceaselessly through the 1970s as his group became immensely popular.

Their style shifted slightly throughout it, including more religious intonations from his growing Rastafari beliefs.

Signs that things were possibly going bad first came up in July of 1977 when he was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma.

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7 /10 Burnin'

Marley had a growth under one of his toenails, rumored to result from an older injury sustained while playing his beloved football, but that was not the case.

It simply was there, and he ignored it for a time until he started to become weak.

He was known to be relentless when it came to tours and performances, even to the point of overworking to perform for his ever-increasing crowds.

6 /10 Malignancy

He had acral lentiginous melanoma, a unique skin cancer that is not caused by sun damage, hence why it first appeared and was sustained underneath his toenail, where it was effectively hidden for so long.

It was also not a widely recognized or easily treated form of cancer, so his prognosis was grim, and he was given a short time to live if no primary intervention was undertaken.

But Marley refused to amputate the toe, instead opting for a skin graft to cover the growth.

5 /10 The Rastafari

Marley was highly motivated by his religion, Rastafarianism, an afro-centric school of belief and alternative perspective from mainstream Christianity, which focuses on Africa’s setting and its people who are the actual ancestors and figures described in the Bible by natural design.

They also thought that Ras Tafari, the Emperor of Ethiopia at the time, was the second coming of Christ himself.

Part of the religion’s belief is in the sacrament or ceremonial use of cannabis as interpreted from Biblical passages, tied to Marley’s image as a marijuana user.

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4 /10 Exodus

Aggressive cancer eventually spread through Marley’s body to his lungs and brain, where it became inoperable.

Once that was discovered, he took a leave to Bavaria to attempt a more homeopathic remedy, but his health only worsened over time.

He was relocated after five months of failed treatment and fainted during a jog in London, at which point he was flown home to Jamaica, where he died in his hoe country where he wanted to be.

3 /10 Catch A Fire

The death of anyone is enough to question why, and Marley’s friends and followers had a lot of questions.

The rumor that his cancer started from a football injury was twisted into a conspiracy that he was once gifted a set of shoes by undercover CIA agents that had radioactive copper wiring inside that was designed to prick his toe and poison him, for spreading the message of Jah and other revolutionary ideas at a pivotal post-Civil Rights time in the states.


2 /10 Soul Revolution

Another theory surrounded his last treating physician, Josef Issels in Bavaria, who was revealed to be a former member of the Nazi party and had an on-record hatred for black people.

His treatments were largely unfounded and experimental, as well as degrading. He starved Bob until he was just 80 pounds as a 36-year-old man, assuredly accelerating his deterioration.

Yet more blamed his manager for coordinating his death so his wife Rita could inherit his wealth.

1 /10 Reggae Lives On

The sadness that struck the world with Bob Marley’s untimely death in 1981 was part of what helped his music endure. His name has become iconically tied to the peaceful, joyful spirit of Reggae.

Still, it has been forgotten as the spiritual and sometimes impassioned speaker who sought unity through music to end political strife and empower the disenfranchised minorities of the world.

It’s easy to be angry when such a prominent figure dies, but listening to his music, anger is not what he left the world with; it was love.

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