5 Wild Facts About Reggae Singer Bob Marley

Photo of Bob Marley
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bob Marley was a reggae star whose music and name are known all over the world. He released hit songs such as “Three Little Birds” and “Don’t Worry Be Happy” during his career, which was shockingly cut short when he passed away at 36 years old on May 11, 1981 from melanoma. Despite dying at such a young age, he packed a lot into that life and career. Now, a biopic about his life and career is almost here (it premiered on February 14, 2024), starring Kingsley Ben-Adir. In memorial of the iconic singer’s death let’s learn some interesting facts about the star.

1He had 11 children and possibly more

Damian, Ziggy, Stephen, Kymani and Julian Marley, sons of Bob Marley, perform onstage at the "Roots, Rock, Reggae Tour 2004" at the Filene Center August 8, 2004 in Vienna, Virginia

Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Marley acknowledged 11 children but there have been others who claimed to be his children after his death. Marley was married to Rita Anderson and they had three children together. Marley also adopted her daughter from a previous relationship. While they were married, he had eight other children with eight other women. Many of his children and even grandchildren have gone on to start a music career of their own including Ziggy Marley and Skip Marley.

2He read palms as a child

Portrait of Jamaican Reggae musician Bob Marley, mid to late twentieth century

Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images

Reportedly, until he was around seven years old, he studied palms and made some accurate predictions about the future. His mother did not like this and made him stop, so he refused to read palms ever again.

3He was almost assassinated

Marley, Bob Marley, 2012

Magnolia Pictures/Everett Collection

He was shot in the chest and arm in an assassination attempt on December 3, 1976. Rita and four others were also shot but luckily there were no fatalities.

4His songs were inspired by life around him

One of Marley’s most famous songs is “Three Little Birds” and it was actually inspired by little birds that would come sit on his windowsill. His friend Tony Gilbert once shared, “Bob got inspired by a lot of things around him, he observed life. I remember the three little birds. They were pretty birds, canaries, who would come by the windowsill at Hope Road.” The song was released as a single just a year before he died.

5He smoked around 18 joints a day

Bob Marley relaxes with friends in front of his house at 56 Hope Road on July 9, 1979 in Kingston, Jamaica

Charlie Steiner – Hwy 67 Revisited/Getty Images

Marley is often considered the stoner of all stoners and was often seen smoking marijuana. He was a Rastafarian and smoking weed was religious to him and he believed in its medicinal properties. Rumors are that he smoked around 18 joints a day. His estate launched its own brand of cannabis in 2016 called Marley Natural Fine Cannabis.

 Oh What A Year: 1980
Want More?

Oh What A Year: 1980

January 2020

Take a look back at our retrospect of the year 1980 where we celebrate the hottest in movies, music and TV.

Buy This Issue