In honor of Mr. Robert Nesta Marley’s 68th birthday, I thought a little numeric homage was in order. You know, for a man who rolled more numbers than the average Joe, if you catch my drift Mon.
So to the rescue, to the rescue, to the rescue
Awake from your sleep and slumber
Today could be your LUCKY NUMBER
Sun is shining and the weather is sweet – Bob Marley, Sun Is Shining, Soul Revolution, 1971
And the countdown begins…
2-6-45 – Nesta Robert Marley was born (Jamaican Passport official later swapped his first and middle name, telling Bob’s mother that Nesta sounded too much like a girl’s name, thus giving us Robert Nesta Marley)
9-23-80 – Bob’s final live concert at the Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
5-11-81 – Bob passed away due to cancer in Miami, FL
1,000,000,000 – And a BILLION men a sparking. Rastaman Live Up lyric, Confrontation, 1983
1,000,000 – MILLION miles from reality. So Much Trouble In the World lyric, Survival, 1979 (see also, Stand Alone lyrics)
10,000 – I see TEN THOUSAND chariots, and they coming without horses – Midnight Ravers lyric, Catch A Fire, 1973
2313 – 2313 Tetsnell Street, Wilmington, Delaware. In 1966, the day after marrying Rita (Alpharita), Bob split for the states, alone, where he lived at this Wilmington, DE address with his mother, and worked at a DuPont plant for nearly 7 months earning money to finance his music career
2,000 – TWO THOUSAND years of history could not be wiped away so easily – Zion Train lyric, Uprising, 1980
1994 – Bob was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His induction speech was delivered by Bono. Jann Wenner had this to say:
Bob Marley was the Third World’s first pop superstar. He was the man who introduced the world to the mystic power of reggae. He was a true rocker at heart, and as a songwriter, he brought the lyrical force of Bob Dylan, the personal charisma of John Lennon, and the essential vocal stylings of Smokey Robinson into one voice.
1962 – Bob releases first single, Judge Not
400 – 400 Years. Song title, Catch A Fire, 1973, written by Peter Tosh
100 – We bubbling on the Top 100, just like a mighty dread…Roots, Rock, Reggae lyric, Rastaman Vibration, 1976
56 – 56 Hope Road, Kingston Jamaica – Former home of Bob Marley, and now the home of the Bob Marley Museum
34 – 34 Ridgemount Gardens, Camdentown, London, England. Bob’s London address in 1972.
17 – Shows Bob Marley and the Wailers were supposed to open for Sly and the Family Stone in a US tour in 1973 (See 4 below)
12 – Age Bob moved to Trenchtown
11 – Number of Bob’s children according to Wikipedia and BobMarley.com (from 7 different women) – some sites list 13 children, and others speculate Bob fathered as many as 20
9 – NINE Miles (St. Ann Parrish) – Area in Jamaica where Bob was born and grew up
7 – And I hear the angel with the SEVEN seals… Rastaman Chant lyric, Burnin’, 1973
5 – FIVE days to go, working for the next day…Work song lyric, Uprising, 1980
4 – Shows Bob actually played before being fired – FOR STEALING SLY’s THUNDER! (Fans were actually chanting MAAARRRRLLLLEEEYYY during Sly’s set, and in some cases, more fans were in their seats for the Wailers’ opener than for the headliner)
3 – THREE little Birds. Song Title, Exodus, 1977
The I-THREES (three back-up vocalist beauties, one of which was Rita Marley, who joined the group after Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the group in 1974)
2 – Three Crows on top TWO is laughin’. Mr. Brown song lyric, song originally written by Glen Adams and released as a single
1 – A few contenders here…
ONE Drop. Song Title, Survival, 1979.
ONE Heart. One Love song lyric, Exodus, 1977
ONE bright morning when my work is over, Man will fly away home. Rastaman Chant lyric, Burnin’ 1973
ONE good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. Trenchtown Rock lyric, African Herbsman, 1973
But ONE true Champion:
ONE love, Song Title, Exodus, 1977
And a nugget for the road (pun intended). Bob drove a BMW once he started making some money…and why? He used to tell whoever would listen that the letters stood for Bob Marley and the Wailers. He later got rid of the Beemer though, saying it caused him nothin’ but trouble. He bought a jeep.
Thanks for reading. Watch the documentary, Marley, on Netflix, if you haven’t already. Heart wrenching at times. Particularly his pre-show rendition of I’m Hurting Inside, just before his final show in Pittsburgh.
2 responses to “Bob Marley By The Numbers”
Great thoughts—enjoyed this! It’s fascinating to me how he became so huge and iconic. when you think about it he didn’t have a killer voice or ridiculous guitar skills. but he wrote great tunes (many of them!) and it was crystal clear that he put his soul into the music. I actually just started a video blog on the creative process/evolution of music from my perspective as a singer/songwriter. it’s really cool to see where figures like Bob fit into the recent history of music. thanks for writing!
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