Can Bob Marley’s sons Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Kymani and Damian Keep The Marley Tradition Alive?
Bob Marley's Sons
Bob Marley throughout his musical career was able to inspire many people with the liberation philosophy of Rastafari as well as guiding many artists to understand there social responsibility to the community and in this feat Marley would have felt that his work was done.
Of all Marley’s achievements the one that he would cherish the most was the fact that he was able to inspire his children, especially his sons. Marley had many children but to many men the most cherished offspring is to have a son to follow in the tradition established.
Marley’s sons Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Kymani and Damian have all followed the path made by their dear father.
It is Through Bob Marley's sons that his Legacy of Musical Genius is Being Memorialized.
One has to be astonished by the fact that a single man was able to change the world with his individual talent and also produce an entire family of musical geniuses.
Marley’s talent was so wide and diverse that it seems that all Bob Marley's sons carries with them a piece of that talent.
In particular Bob Marley’s sons have been able to carry on the musical tradition of Bob Marley; they have formed the bedrock of the Marley family.
When we speak of Marley one is not only referring to Bob himself but to the wide array of talent that exists in the family. The Marley brothers have become for reggae music what the Jackson 5 is for American pop music. The Marley family is an indisputable powerhouse in the music industry.
One of the Reasons Why the Marley Sons Have Taken the Musical Path and Have Reached Such Remarkable Success is Because of the Inspiration They Received From Their Father.
Each son holds there own personal memory of there father that serves as the guiding light in all their activities.
In an interview given before they went on to headline their Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival Tour in 2004 discussed the songs that Marley sang that inspired them through the years.
For Bob Marley’s son Ziggy the oldest son and arguably the most well known of Bob Marley’s children noted the importance of the song “Survival”. Ziggy explained his love for the song stating:
“ The song appeared when I was going to high school
The whole survival album inspired me and helped me
To focus on my music. The concept of it was about The slave trade bringing black people from Africa to
The west. We’re survivors of that. “
This understanding of the album is most compelling and reflects a genuine passion for the type of pan-Africanism displayed by his father.
For one of Bob Marley’s sons Kymani the song “I Know” reflects the ideas that he most respected by his father.
Kymani in explaining his love for the song states:
“I know” I sing it on stage very often. The lyrics are very
powerful It’s basically telling you that when times get
hard, you should look forward and carry on. Know that there
is a superior being there to guide you in life”
This is a personal statement of the various ways in which Rastafari has helped to guide his life through all the turmoil and struggle of the music industry.
The choice of the song reflects a son who sympathized and appreciated the various personal sacrifices of his father in the midst of a fast paced entertainment industry.
For Stephen,one of Bob Marley’s sons, the song “Slave Driver” reflects those values he respected most in his father. The fierce hatred of injustice and the tradition of anti-colonial politics of Bob Marley appeal to this young revolutionary seeking to change the world.
Stephen in discussing the song states:
“ It’s a very strong message. Even though we are free to
Walk about we are still enslaved. It can be mental enslavement.
And if your mind is not free it is hard to attain anything else in life.”
Stephen echoes the message of Marcus Garvey promoted by his father that in order for people to liberate themselves this must be done mentally before any other action can take place.
Another of Bob Marley’s sons Damian the song “War” is what he most remembers from the vast collection of musical work produced by his father. Damian in discussing the song states:
“ Its really relevant to the world right now, with all
The war going on in the Middle East and elsewhere
One of the greatest lines in the song is “Until the colour
Of a man’s skin is of no significance than the color of his eyes
For another of Bob Marley’s sons Julian believes that the greatest song ever written by his father was “Redemption Song” as he feels that it spoke to the heart of the black condition. Julian in discussing the song states:
“ It’s a very important song, when I was 4 or 5
That was one of the songs that sounded different
To me. It was like a mirror a reflection of our lives.”
Can Bob Marley’s Sons Fill Their Fathers Shoes?
As the Marley’s sons reflected on the musical works of there father there is a sense in which they are in awe of the man who so close to them. For the average admirer a personal relationship with one of the greatest musicians in the world is a dream. It seems that the Marley sons lived the dream of many music lovers who sought an in-depth and private moment with Bob Marley.
The memory of Bob Marley is something that continues to guide the men in their life and it is something that the sons reflect on at times. Its not just knowing the importance of there fathers work to reggae music but recognizing that at each of there own performances they are filled with the burden of filling there fathers shoes.
For many fans of Bob Marley the sons represent the only way they will be able to experience a taste of the Marley experience.
Kymani Marley discussed the influence that Bob had on his life in an interview in 2004 stating:
“ My father is my greatest influence
in life. And I'm not just saying that
because he is my father,"
the 28-year-old Marley says.
"When I'm on stage, when I'm writing,
whatever – you know what I mean -- I'm
always paying respect to him. In my
everyday life I live in his honor.”
In the interview Kymani discusses the personal pressure put on him by the fans to represent their father.
It is a burden that Bob Marley’s children grown to accept but Kymani reveals it can be pressuring at times:
“ For me, it's difficult for people to
allow me to be myself.They're always making
a comparison and have their own conception
of what I am supposed to be like," he
says."I have lived my own life and lived my
own struggles and that's all I can be.I am
not Bob Marley. I am a seed. There is no
way to compare his sons, but sometimes it
gets a little weird."
Ziggy the eldest of Bob Marley’s sons has also felt the pressure to fill the shoes of his dad however he has recognized the fact that this is impossible.
It is pressure however that Ziggy understands and does not hide from stating:
“ My father's music is a universal
message of righteousness, equality for all.
He made humanitarian music for everyone.
Realistically, we are and always will be
Bob's sons.We don't sit around thinking we
have to distance ourselves him.”
It is through the personal reflections of the Marley sons on their father that reveals the personal side of Bob Marley.
For the Marley sons it is not only the burden of filling their fathers shoes but a recognition that there own personal stories form part of the story of Bob Marley.
In an interview taken in 2004 Julian and Ziggy discuss their fondest memories of their father.
In remembering his father Ziggy states:
“ My earliest memory would have to be getting the belt from him when I misbehaved.
How could I forget that? My father was into discipline.”
For Ziggy it was the personal experiences of his father that he remembers most, while for Julian it’s the awe of seeing his father performing live. Julian states:
It would have to be seeing him on that huge stage in London, 1980. I was only a baby (4 years old) but I remember how big the stage was, and how many people were in the audience.
Keeping the Marley Tradition Alive!
The Marley sons are not only reflecting on the past glories of their father, they are helping to build upon the tradition established by their father.
As integral members of the Bob Marley Foundation they are helping to spread the community spirit promoted by Bob. In there musical endeavors the message of hope and social revolution is a constant theme.
As a family the brothers have established the Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival in 2004 to continue the positive vibration established by Bob Marley.
Reflecting on the importance of music in these times Ziggy states:
“ Musicians are like parents. Anytime you try to force something on (people), they'll rebel. It's
not the role of music to tell you who to vote for. We can try to raise consciousness, and let the kids decide for themselves. But we have to be very careful how we do it. If you made a song called `Vote For John Kerry' what kid is going to listen to it? The spirit of the youth is rebellion, so if you tell them to do something, they'll do the opposite.”
In his personal pursuits Ziggy is charting his own path in the music industry much like his father in his sole album released in 2004 entitled “Dragonfly”.
Commenting on the new thrust in his music Ziggy states: As an artist I need to experience different things, to see the world and have different energies. It helps me grow as a person to be outside my element.
The evidence of Ziggy’s new element is found in the various songs of the new album.
In the song “I Get Out” Ziggy tackles the corrupt music industry for their abuse of musicians. The song “True to Myself” focuses on the need for people to respect themselves; one can see in this song the influence of his father.
In the song Shalom Salaam Ziggy focuses on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in the Middle East, displaying his willingness to tackle controversial political subjects. The album is not only a reflection of his personal growth but is a continuation of a tradition started with his involvement in the Melody Makers to keep his fathers message of hope alive to the new generation.
Damian 'Jnr. Gong' Marley, son of the late Reggae artist Bob Marley, holds his Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album at the 44th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Another one of Bob Marley’s sons that is keeping the tradition alive and well is Damian Marley.
Damian Marley through his two albums “Mr.Marley” and “Halfway Tree” has been able to rock the charts and is on a path of massive commercial success like his father.
Already Damian Marley has been able to receive a Grammy award a feat that his father did not accomplish.
Damian commenting on this in an interview with Afiwi.com states:
"Well, it's another notch on the belt. It's
just like another step you take in your
career you- know? It's a great step. The
Grammy is a well respected award amongst
the music fraternity. At the sametime
still,our father didn't receive a Grammy
award in the Reggae category, and everyone
know that our Father is one of the greatest
Reggae musicians, you-understand? So it's
really the love of the people that is the
greatest reward for us, you-understand? So
we give thanks for the Grammy, but as we
say, the love of the people is the
When Damian received the Grammy in 2001 it was another achievement for the entire Marley family.
Interestingly enough of all the sons Damian Marley share the mixed background of his father, whose father was a white military officer and his mother an inner city girl.
It is fact that Damian recognizes and inspired the title of his grammy award winning album “Halfway Tree”.
In discussing the album with Afiwi.com Damian states:
“Seen! Nice. You know Halfway Tree, the big
roundabout. You have Hope Road on one side
and the next side you go down to Three
Mile, you- understand? When you check it,
one side leads you to the ghetto or slums
and the other side leads you uptown to the
more posh areas, you-understand? So it's
like a bridge. Halfway Tree is like a
bridge between the two sides. My mom Cindy
Breakspeare came from uptown, my dad from
downtown, you understand? So me myself now
come like that same Halfway Tree bridge. So
that's the relevance.”
The Marley brothers are representing the tradition left by their father Bob Marley through their music and upstanding character. There personal achievements are a testimony to the inspirational powers of Bob Marley.