Bob Marley

Biography

Since just about every human on the planet seems to own Legend, it's hardly necessary to describe the King of Reggae's music. Marley's style developed early under the tutelage of Lee Perry, who influenced Marley's phrasing. His voice graced early Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae recordings, but many believe that the time he spent backed by fellow Wailers Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston was the most artistically satisfying of his career. The varied personal styles that the trio brought to recording sessions and live performances represented the culmination of Jamaican trio-style singing. Marley's soulful vocal leads were supported by Tosh's deep, almost angry diatribes, while Livingston (who later changed his name to Bunny Wailer) provided balancing high harmonies. The group added an R&B influence to slowed-down Ska, using vocal interplay similar to that of U.S. Doo-Wop and Soul acts. When backed by the Upsetters, one of Jamaica's hottest studio bands, the Wailers combined a tight vocal unit with exceptional rhythmic underpinning. That combination was responsible for Marley's first international smash Catch a Fire, as well as the brilliant, Lee Perry-produced African Herbsman. Later, Marley utilized female singers in the I-Threes when Peter and Bunny left to pursue solo careers. It took Eric Clapton's chart-topping success with "I Shot the Sheriff" to introduce Marley's music to a wide audience in the U.S., but today his sound is a bona fide international phenomenon. Biting lyrics coated in sugary-sweet melodies made Marley a genuine political force who delivered his messages in upbeat, rhythmic vehicles. His prophetic wails still ring true; his expansive music remains powerful and virtuosic. We're left wondering why we had to lose the Caribbean negus at such a young age.
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