Bob Marley- all you need to do: give a little more. Stepping back in time to recall his legacy
“Don’t worry about a thing as every little thing is going to be alright. Rise up this morning, smile with the rising’ sun.” I would like to challenge you to close your eyes for an instant and try to recall what this song takes you back to. I like to think that most of us have some memories connected to this most famous of Bob Marley’s songs.
Some people we meet during our life span leave a mark on us and we will never forget them. This song brings me back to a cold January afternoon in 2014 to a small room inside a hospice. An elderly man, originally from Jamaica, was approaching the last days of his life. Up to that moment, his most heartfelt wish was to return to his hometown of Kingston. However, due to his life limiting health condition, this was not possible. That day, a small reggae group came to the hospice to perform for the patients. He was too weak to leave his room, so the band gathered around his bed and sang for him “Three little birds”. There was this visibly dying man, unable to move nor speak. The anxiety and the fear in his eyes struck me. When they sang for him, he closed his eyes and formed the words with his lips: “Don’t worry about a thing, as everything will be ok”. When music has no boundaries, its impact is pure strength for people.Bob Marley once stated, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
This song surely gave the man strength - he passed away peacefully shortly after.
Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, the world’s greatest reggae singer and a pioneer of his time, has surely touched many lives though his inspiring music, conveying happiness and hope through generations. As he once said: “The greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” It comes as no surprise that so many are finding inspiration in his music, which is packed with beautiful poetry, bursting with optimism, reassurance, and encouragement, as well as an enormous amount of positivity. As he said: “So much trouble in the world. All you need to do: give a little”. Bob Marley gave more than a little; he gave his life to the music and to those that loved him.
Marley’s music is an instant feel-good booster, prompting us to see how wonderful life can be, even if our circumstances might be tough. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone’s else’s life.” Marley surely did not miss any chance in living his life to the fullest.
Bob Marley has a strong connection to London, as his widow, Rita Marley, once confirmed: “My husband had a special affinity with London.” He defined London as his second home. In 1972, as an unknown musician and without any funding, he first moved to London where he lived at 34 Ridgmount Gardens, where his career was first beginning to rise. The reason for his second return to London was sadly based on his safety. He found exile in London shortly after surviving an attempted suicide at his residence in Kingston in December 1976. “None but ourselves can free our minds,” Marley later said.
He stayed with his band members, the Wailers, at a charming four-storey house at 42 Oakely street in Chelsea until June 1977.
As Marley stated: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” That he mastered this skill fully can be seen in the positivity with which he approached life until his own death. According to his manager and long-time close friend, Don Taylor, the artist habits while living in Chelsea were to rise late in the morning, walk over the iconic Albert Bridge to Battersea Park, and play football. Afterwards he would return to the studio to record frequently until well into the night.
It is here, in Oakley Street, that he finished recording his most iconic album, “Exodus” , and where he wrote his undoubtedly most famous song “Three little birds”. Alongside his band members, Cindy Breakespeare, who was Miss Jamaica at the time, lived in the same house, while his wife stayed in Kingston. From that extramarital relationship, Damian Marley was born in 1978. Their relationship lasted until his death in 1981. Many may not realise that “Three little birds” is a tribute to the beauty queen Cindy. The Marleys are a big family: he had 11 acknowledged children with seven different women. Damian Marley, who is known as “Jr. Gong”, has had the most lucrative mainstream success of all his siblings.
Bob Marley’s life was tragically cut short in May 1981, at the age of 36, when he died due to a melanoma on his toeat the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami. His last words to his son Ziggy were: “Money can’t buy life”. Which makes one remember of how precious life is, regardless of fame or wealth: when it’s someone’s time, it’s time. His body was flown back to Jamaica where a State Funeral was held.
Given the huge popularity and the impressive personality Bob Marley was, it does not come as a surprise that the cinematic industry was sufficiently interested to report about his fascinating life. There have been multiple documentaries about Marley; however, for the latest upcoming Bob Marley biopic movie, which yet has to be named for the public, we can all get thrilled as it is going to be a personal hymn to his life. Filming began in December 2022 in London and will carry on also in Jamaica in his hometown.
Expected to be released in January 2024, this Paramount Picture production will be directed by the American Reinaldo Marcus Green. His movies include “King Richard” (2021), “Joe Bell” (2020) and “Monsters and Men” (2018).
The biographical film is produced by Robert Teitel, as well as Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley, son Ziggy Marley and widow Rita Marley. Kingsley Ben-Adir, born in 1986 in London and a rising star of British film and theatre, plays Bob Marley. Apparently, it took Paramount nearly a whole year to find the right actor to interpret Bob Marley. Ben-Adir has previously appearedin The OA (2016), High Fidelity (2020) and Peaky Blinders (2013) , among others.
Lashana Lynch, who is best known for her role as “Nomi” in the latest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die” (2021), is lined up to play Rita Marley.
The highly anticipated movie will be a tribute to Bob Marley’s legacy, to his energy and to the love he conveyed to so many. While dramatising the late Marley’s life it will be fascinating to revive a little bit of history.
Having Bob Marley’s family involved as producer and a promising Oscar-nominated director, it is without doubt set to be a marvellous production we can all be very excited about. No biographies can be better told than by those closest to someone, giving a voice and reliving the past by stepping back in time. To a time where Bob Marley’s music had no limits, one love and one dream, no matter the race. The upcoming biopic will hopefully bring the same positivity and strength that was given to that dying man in the hospice through a simple song. Whatever the movie will convey, it will be no less than his own music: inspiring. To conclude in Bob Marley’s own words: “We know where we’re going; we know where we are from".
By Luisa Markides