Yearlong birthday celebration for Third World superstar

Robert Nesta Marley.
Associated Press / Island Records/File

While many distinguished individuals share Black History Month to commemorate their life’s outstanding work, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., remains the singular achiever afforded a day to mark his iconic deeds.

However, Bob Marley, Jamaica’s reggae icon and the acclaimed first Third World superstar will get a year-long celebration to honor his 70th birthday anniversary. Since his death at age 36 on May 11, 1981, each decade has heightened his profile on the international circuit.

On his 50th birthday anniversary, a massive celebration at his former home at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, attracted international acclaim, media frenzy, concerts, celebrated entertainers, football games and probably the biggest party the island had previously ever marked for any individual.

Undoubtedly the biggest remains the global 60th held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where an estimated 360,000 celebrants marked the occasion of his Feb. 6 birth to a theme billed “Africa Unite,” the title of one of his songs.

The seventh era commemoration will likely encompass various aspects of his accomplishments with specific celebrations targeted to as many disciplines as he is revered.

Together with his music’s theme of liberation, Marley’s rags-to-riches story brought inspiration to subjugated people around the world, where he is revered as a larger-than-life leader.

Inducted posthumously to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Marley is notably the singer who popularized reggae and established the genre on the global map. He is also regarded a statesman in his native Jamaica. It was there that he reportedly brought together the country’s warring factions of supporters of the Jamaica Labor Party and People’s National Party — symbolized by rival politicians and former prime ministers Michael Manley and Edward Seaga who joined hands on-stage.

The historic unity gesture during his legendary “One Love Peace Concert” in Kingston took place on April 22, 1978.

It was five years since Marley and the band arrived from Jamaica, with the 1977 release of “Exodus” which was recorded in London just after an assassination attempt on his life. Many believed his actions sparked a socio-political statement but also inspired hits such as “Waiting In Vain” and “One Love.”

Also known as Tuff Gong, his legacy will be remembered by new releases of rare and unreleased material as well as fan favorite deluxe editions of his most memorable work titled “Bob Marley & The Wailers – Easy Skanking in Boston ’78.” It will feature two historic live shows from Boston’s Music Hall held June 8, 1978.

Slated to be released on Feb. 17, the new and unreleased performance is made possible due to the Marley family’s unprecedented decision to allow access for the first time to their personal material from their private collections and their vaults.

The album will be available on blu-ray/cd combo pack as well as dvd/cd and cd versions. The video footage was shot with a hand-held camera by a fan that Marley allowed to sit right in front of the stage. The result is imagery that captures Marley from just a few feet away, allowing viewers to experience the intimacy of his set.

While the cinematographer was shooting with film and forced to change rolls of tape, the gaps in the live footage have been augmented with specially created animation over the existing audio.

Additional newly created animated material will also be a part of this release, marking the first time the family has incorporated this technology into any official Marley releases.

The 46-minute video includes seven of the 13 songs in the full set. Highlights of the performance include a lively rendition of “Jammin’” and “The Heathen,” a song Marley and the band didn’t perform during the second set.

The show features Marley and the famed group at their most comfortable, truly enjoying the spotlight and basking in the appreciation of the audience.

Today, Marley remains one of the 20th century’s most important and influential entertainment icons. Marley’s lifestyle and music continue to inspire new generations as his legacy lives on through his music. In the digital era, Marley rules the worldwide web with the distinction of boasting the second-highest social media following of any posthumous celebrity. His official Bob Marley Facebook page draws more than 74 million fans, ranking it among the Top 20 of all Facebook pages and Top 10 among celebrity pages.

Marley’s music catalog has sold millions of albums worldwide of releases and events to commemorate the legend, his work and iconic impact.

Thirty years after its original release,” Legend” shared the top of the charts, holding the No. 5 spot on Billboard’s 200 Album Chart. It also holds the distinction of being the longest-charting album in the history of Billboard magazine’s Catalog Albums chart and remains the world’s best-selling reggae album.

Marley’s accolades include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994) and ASCAP Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), multiple entries in the Grammy Hall Of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001). He was also lauded June 1978 with the Peace Medal of the Third World by the United Nations. In 1981he was awarded Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Order of Merit.

Marley’s signature “One Love” was named song of the millennium by the British Broadcasting Corporation. He was also voted one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll.

For more information visit: www.bobma‌ and faceb‌‌bobma‌rley

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