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The Hon. Robert Nesta Marley O.M. departed from this worldly realm on 11th May 1981. He was reportedly en route to Jamaica but lost his 8-month battle with cancer at age 36 while in Miami. Pieces from various stages of Bob Marley’s Life in Jamaica can be found around the island — from former homes to favourite swimming spots. In addition to Jamaican music history tours and streets in Kingston, there are a number of sites on the island reputed to mark significant chapters in his life.

*Article sponsored by Culture by People clothing line


10 Places to Visit from Bob Marley’s Life in Jamaica

  1. Bob Marley Mausoleum, St. Ann

    Bob Marley was born in a countryside village of Nine Mile. Along bumpy, narrow roads on the north of the island that snake through the hills rests the sleepy village’s main attraction. The Bob Marley Nine Mile tour guides offer walks to small farms, ganja fields, and the crafted mausoleum complex on Mount Zion.

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The Nine Mile tour is home to both the birthplace and resting place of the legendary King of Reggae. Bob Marley was buried here on May 21, 1981.The venue includes Bob’s humble childhood home, his reputed meditation area, and 2 mausoleums housing Bob Marely with his half-brother, and their mother.

2. Trench Town Culture Yard, Kingston & St. Andrew

Trench Town is a public housing scheme built in the 1940s, and is reputed as the birthplace of Reggae music. Bob moved here as a young teen with his mother, after his father’s death; this is where his musical journey is known to have commenced. The rough shantytown community will forever be immortalized by its many superstars, and too in classic songs including ‘Trench Town Rock’.

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Kingston Music Streets coloured tee

Fellow community resident Vincent ‘Tata’ Ford is said to have taught Bob how to play the guitar, and together penned the lyrics of ‘No Woman No Cry’ in what we now call the Culture Yard. While living at the venue, the group Bob Marley and the Wailers was formed and their first album `Catch a Fire’ was recorded. The Trench Town Culture Yard still contains personal possessions used by front men Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. Visiting the Culture Yard helps generate revenue for the impoverished community that spawned them and so many other great talents. Some are deterred from visiting due to the volatile reputation of surrounding areas.

Contact: 6 & 8 Lower First Street | Trench Town  (876) 803- 1509 / 859- 6741

3. Cane River Falls, Kingston & St. Andrew

1 of Bob Marley’s reputed favourite spots to meditate, unwind, and “wash off” with a natural shower was in at a river in Nine Mile (but this one in Kingston). Some residents claim to remember Bob Marley visiting with other artistes and his wife Rita. In his song ‘Trench Town’ he references the popular local water spot with the line, “…uppa Cane River to wash my dread”. Tucked in the hills behind the Bull Bay community, it rushes into aqua pools and streams cradled by green mounds.

Photo by Lee Jaffe (circa 1972-73):
Bob Marley at Cane River Falls

4. Bob Marley Beach, Kingston & St. Andrew

In Jamaica it’s not uncommon for a place, sale item, or anything really to be called ‘Bob Marley’ for 1 reason or another. In many instances it is understandably used as a recognizable name to grab tourist attention, but that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case for the public black sand Bob Marley beach. Did you ever hear that Bob also briefly resided in Bull Bay in the early 1970s? Bob Marley Beach in Nine Mile, Bull Bay reportedly got its name because he reportedly frequented the spot. Today the beach includes painted splashes of the red, green, and gold, food stalls, and a sacred meditation space for Rastafarians.

5. Bob Marley Beach House Site, Westmoreland

Bob Marley built a house in the 1970s in a secluded, rocky area called Little Bay about 10 miles from Negril. In Little Bay you may find the site of his beach house, formerly an A-frame residence with a glassed-in 2nd story. Remnants of the structure, his rock water tank, and an outdoor kitchen are said to remain there. Visitors can see where the house stood before being badly damaged by hurricanes. There is also a nearby mineral spring in a small cave that Marley reportedly loved to bathe in.

Photo by Lee Jaffe (circa 1974): Bob Marley preparing food in Little Bay

6. Bob Marley Museum, Kingston & St. Andrew

This Georgian-style clapboard house was Bob Marley’s last home in Jamaica. The uptown residence eventually became 1 of Kingston’s top tourist attractions, known today as the Bob Marley Museum. He resided there from 1975 until 1981, just a stone’s throw from the residences of the Governor General and parish Mayor.

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Now a shrine to his memory, it possesses a collection of photos, awards, preserved possessions and rooms that grant a peek into his life. Even the bullet holes from an unsuccessful 1976 attack on his life remain at the residence. The house is still owned and operated by the Marley family.

Contact: 56 Hope Road | (876) 630-1588 | https://www.bobmarleymuseum.com

7. Tuff Gong International Studio, Kingston & St. Andrew

Tuff Gong International was founded by Bob Marley in 1965. It is the birthplace of some of his greatest musical work such as ‘One Love’ and ‘Redemption Song’. When Bob built Tuff Gong Recording Studio he seeded a legacy and empire that continues to earn heavily, run by the Marley family and still in use by sons Ziggy, Stephen, and Damian aka Junior Gong.

Photo from Catch A Fire / Marley 74:
Bob Marley at the original Tuff Gong Studio

It grants an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the record-making process from rehearsal to album, with the help of vintage equipment alongside newer technologies. The Rehearsal Room still houses Bob’s own pianos, keyboard, trap drums, and mixing board. Tuff Gong International boasts one of the few remaining operational vinyl record manufacturing plants. Today, the studio is one of the largest audio recording facilities and music distributors in the Caribbean! It still attracts many international stars to record in the UNESCO Creative City of Kingston.

Contact: 220 Marcus Garvey Drive | https://bobmarleymuseum.com

8. Strawberry Hill, Kingston & St. Andrew

The founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, bought an estate nestled in the cool Blue Mountains, known today as Strawberry Hill. Not surprisingly it soon became a rendezvous spot for many musicians, including Bob Marley with whom Blackwell worked closely with. Bob reportedly visited regularly, and even retreated for a couple weeks here after being shot at home.

Today, Strawberry Hill’s bar and Conference Room proudly displays a collection of photos, albums, and awards. A wall there is decorated in gold and platinum discs earned from Bob Marley LP sales by Island Records. It is a part of the Blue Mountain Culinary Trail and continues to boasts elite international guests, breathtaking views, and a restaurant.

Contact: B1 New Castle Road, Irish Town | (876) 944 8403 / 429 8646| https://www.strawberryhillhotel.com

9. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Kingston & St. Andrew

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is 1 of the world’s oldest organized churches. The church in Jamaica was commissioned by Emperor Haile Selassie and headed by the late Archbishop in the western hemisphere, Abuna Yesehaq. It was established here on May 23, 1970, on the grounds of the Kingston Parish Church. In 1978, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament leading to its first substantial building at Maxfield Avenue.

Bob Marley Baptism

Bob sought membership within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. On November 4, 1980, Bob Marley was baptized by Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq into the Church while at a New York hotel, and given the baptism name Berhane Selassie.
Following his death, the funeral day began with a service with his family and friends at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity before the coffin was transported to the National Stadium. Bob was buried under Orthodox rites, which is still evident at the Bob Marley Mausoleum.

89 Maxfield Avenue | (876)373-4117 | https://www.eotcja.org

10. National Stadium, Kingston & St. Andrew

The National Stadium, built ahead of Jamaica’s 1st Independence celebration in 1962, was constructed during Bob’s teenage years. It became a backdrop for a significant moment in Bob’s career, and eventually his homegoing service.

Photo by AFAR Magazine

One Love Peace Concert

In 1978 Bob Marley and the Wailers headlined a larger-than-life One Love Peace Concert here, which was his first show on returning to Jamaica. This was during a time when the country was experiencing a civil war divide, with gun battles between political street gangs. Opposing sides declared an uneasy truce, and the Peace Concert was intended to celebrate that as well as commemorate Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie’s visit to Jamaica exactly 12 years prior. During the ‘Jammin’ song performance, Bob called on then-Prime Minister Michael Manley and opposition leader Edward Seaga to join him onstage in a gesture for national unity. The 3 joined hands, and that notable moment and night embodied his timeless lyrics ‘One Love’. 3 years later Bob returned to the National Stadium for his funeral.

Photo credits: Medium.com

Bob Marley Funeral

Bob Marley died before collecting Jamaica’s third highest awarded honour, the Order of Merit (O.M). The Marley family, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and a Government team led by Olivia “Babsy” Grange orchestrated a grand celebration of life. The coffin was placed in the National arena’s gymnasium on the day before the funeral for public viewing. The funeral attendance spilled from the National Stadium to streets lined with people looking for a final glimpse of the superstar or vehicle which eventually carried his body to his Nine Mile resting place. A statue of him playing guitar still stands outside the National Stadium today.

Photo credits: The Jamaica Gleaner

Bob Marley’s Life in Jamaica

The great Reggae legend and United Nations Peace Medal recipient is still celebrated decades after departing this realm. The undeniable impact he left was great enough to be felt miles and even eras away! In many ways, he is kept alive. All over Jamaica (and the world) his presence can still be felt through images, music, and his sage messages. Bob Marley’s life in Jamaica was far from simple; and these places each mark a significant period for the icon.

A Bob Marley fan at heart should hope to visit at least a couple of former stomping grounds in his homeland of Jamaica. For lovers of him and the Reggae genre he helped popularize, 1 of the most fitting times to honour his memory is during Reggae Month (February), which is also when his birthday is celebrated (Feb. 6).

Have you visited or hope to visit next any of these Bob Marley sites??? If you have, what was your experience like?

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