Bob Marley died of cancer on 11 May 1981 and fans of the legendary reggae king are marking the 40th anniversary of his passing this week.
In 1977, Marley was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer in his big toe, from a football injury. Herbal treatment did not work and doctors suggested amputation. Marley refused surgery, citing his Rasta beliefs. He died as a result, aged 36.
Survived by at least 12 children, he received a state funeral in Jamaica. His last album, ‘Uprising’ was released a month after his death, featuring a lion-maned Rastafarian image with arms raised in victory. The last song on the record, ‘Redemption Song’, includes excerpts from speeches by the Pan-Africanist Rastafarian leader, Marcus Garvey calling for emancipation. He recorded over 600 songs and other classics include ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘One Love’, ‘Three Little Birds’ and ‘Simmer Down’ although at least 50 of them are mainstream favourites.
‘Legend’, the greatest hits album (1984) remains the best-selling reggae album ever. Over 75 million Marley records worldwide have been sold. He was posthumously honoured by Jamaica with an Order of Merit. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone also ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.