Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley
by Christopher John Farley
Amistad, 216 pp., $9.95 (paper)
Bob Marley: Herald of the Postcolonial World?
by Jason Toynbee
Polity, 252 pp., $69.95; $22.95 (paper)
The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Album of the Century
by Vivien Goldman
Three Rivers, 325 pp., $14.95 (paper)
Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley
by David Burnett
Insight Editions, 141 pp., $39.95
Bob Marley died of cancer on May 11, 1981, at the premature age of thirty-six. By then he was well known to college kids worldwide, but few could have foreseen the celebrity he has attained since. Born in Jamaica, he is the only third-world performer to be elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, the BBC named his “One Love” the “Song of the Millennium”; the same year Time declared his 1977 Exodus the “Best Album of the Twentieth Century.” Voted the third-greatest songwriter of all time in a 2001 BBC poll (behind Bob Dylan and John Lennon), Marley has sold an estimated 50 million records worldwide. On the 2007 Forbes list of “Top-Earning Dead Celebrities,” he ranked twelfth, with his estate earning an estimated $4 million. His posthumous greatest-hits collection, Legend (1984), is among the top-selling compilations of all time. Twenty-seven years after his death, there is perhaps no country where his songs—wry ballads and martial anthems, with soothing or stirring melodies—aren’t familiar.
'The Bob Marley Story' June 11, 2009