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Bob Marley
A Life
Garry Steckles

published 2009 • 6" x 9" • 212 pages • b&w photos throughout
ISBN 9781566567336 • paperback • $17.00

"Chronological birth-to-death sketch of Jamaica’s premier musician.
St. Kitts-based journalist Steckles, one of the reggae icon’s more devout devotees, has spent countless moons cataloging all forms of Bob Marley minutiae. From an overview of Wailers’ producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and his notorious royalty rip-offs to a reexamination of the night Marley took a bullet in the arm from an unknown assassin, Steckles squeezes in all the necessary info for Zion Lion neophytes… immensely fresh. …Make no mistake, this debut author can turn a phrase…brimming over with excellent trivia.”
—Kirkus Reviews

More Reviews »

"Of all the millions of words written about the Jamaican Rasta reggae hero, this book encapsulates the most concise and complete information about Marley... If you want to place a Marley biography in your library, this is the one to buy."
—Barbara Makeda Blake Hannah, Rastafarian scholar and journalist

One of the twentieth century's most iconic cultural figures, Bob Marley was responsible for popularizing reggae music throughout the world. He set attendance records that still stand today and his 1977 Exodus album was hailed by Time magazine as the greatest of the 20th Century. His unique blend of politically conscious lyrics and unforgettable melodies won him legions of fans far beyond the Caribbean. But Marley was no mere pop star: his strong attachment to Rasta beliefs and practices and his fierce hostility to the injustice of "Babylon" made him an important spokesperson for the dispossessed all over the globe.

In this new biography, Garry Steckles follows Marley's eventful life through the early days in rural Jamaica, arrival in Kingston, first recordings and performances to his spectacular status as an international superstar. Throughout he analyzes Marley's political and religious beliefs, while also concentrating on his relationships with fellow musicians, family and influential figures. He documents Marley's often turbulent relationships with reggae legends like studio pioneer Clement "Coxson" Dodd, fellow Wailers Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, and the wildly eccentric producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, introduces you to behind-the-scenes legends like Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and the volatile PR genius Charles Comer, and takes you on the Rasta roller-coaster that carried Marley to the cover of Rolling Stone. A chapter focusing on Marley's long-term legacy explores what the musician contributed to world music and what the religious believer gave to Rastafarianism.

Gary Steckles has worked as a newspaper editor in the US, England, Canada, and Barbados. He has written about reggae and all aspects of Caribbean culture in major newspapers and magazines in North America and the Caribbean.

Media Reviews

"...a compulsively readable, rock-steady biography ... Put this clear-eyed, concise tome at the centre of any Bob collection."
—Montreal Gazette 

"... informative and well written... splendid biography"
—Caribbean Review of Books

“In writing this most recent biography, Steckles, a journalist covering reggae and Caribbean culture internationally, had access to the largest Marley archive… well written.”
—Library Journal

"In an easy, engaging style, Steckles describes how Marley overcame prejudice and poverty to leave an indelible mark on popular music history... Bob Marley: A Life is filled with reminiscences and observations from dozens of people who knew Marley, and what emerges is a solid biography based on careful research, interviews and first-hand experiences. In addition to working at newspapers in Britain and Canada, Steckles has also been a concert promoter and DJ who crossed paths with Marley many times. But he wisely leaves himself out of the proceedings, focusing instead on what Marley did and what he meant to people, allowing the story to be told on Bob's terms... Bob Marley: A Life succeeds in telling the story of a man who has left an incredible library of work to be enjoyed by generations to come with warmth and style. It is a treasure of Marley lore, an inspired examination of the man, his music and his legacy. Quite simply -- to put it in musical terms -- it is a hit."
—Toronto Sun

"Bob Marley is worth the time for anyone interested in the post-Beatles era, reggae music, and Jamaican life, society and politics."
Caribbean Compass

"An icon of Jamaica, an icon of the Rastafarian philosophy, an icon of Reggae - Bob Marley meant a lot of things to many people. 'Bob Marley: A Life' is a biography of one of the most important cultural figures of the twentieth century, tracing his life from his early days to his tragic early death from brain cancer, to the still raging legal battles over the rights to his music and estate. 'Bob Marley' is an educational look at this versatile man.”
—Midwest Book Review

“Reggae performer Bob Marley remains a major influence years after his death, and culture critic Steckles nicely surveys his life and music in this short new book. …Steckles’ coverage makes for a good introduction to not only the artist but also the genre. …good black-and-white photos highlight the narrative…
A good addition to the Marley library… Recommended for all popular music collections.”
—Multicultural Review

"This biography on reggae legend Bob Marley reflects the growing popularity and legacy that continues to grow more than 27 years after the singer's death from cancer at age 36. Steckles has been writing about the reggae music scene for many years, and he was granted access to an enormous archive of material to produce the most vivid and detailed account of Marley's life to date, concentrating on his Rastafarian faith, devotion to marijuana, turbulent family life and his global influence on World Music. Written for general audiences, this book also contains a poem from David Michael Rudder. "
—Book News

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