Happy Birthday Bob Marley! The legendary reggae singer was born on Feb. 6, 1945 and would have been 67 today.
The hugely influential Jamaican musician was the frontman of Bob Marley and the Wailers for nearly two decades, and left a permanent mark on musical and political history. He is considered the first Jamaican breakthrough musical artist, having won audiences in the UK and North America for his politically-charged reggae music and open embrace of revolutionary ideals.
Marley was only 36 years old when he died on May 11, 1981 of metastatic skin cancer. The malignancy was first discovered in 1977, after Marley became concerned about a football injury on his toe that was not healing. Because Marley's medical records were never published, intense speculation remains about the precise cause of his death and the devoted Rastafarian's religious conviction that may have allowed the cancer to spread to his brain and lungs.
A hospital official reportedly told the Daytona Beach Tribune that Marley underwent surgery to remove the malignancy on his foot in 1977, though Marley is widely believed to have refused doctor's orders to have his entire toe amputated in order to prevent the spread of the cancer. It seems that he permitted a surgical excision of the visibly cancerous part of his toe but would not submit to a full amputation, citing the dictate that Rastafarians shall not make any cuttings in their flesh.
Apparently believing the cancer to have been effectively treated, Marley continued to work and travel. Bob Marley and the Wailers released Uprising in 1980, which was the last studio album the band would release. According to some, Marley appeared sick at a Madison Square Garden concert during the Uprising tour, and collapsed the next day while jogging in Central Park.
Shortly afterwards, Marley traveled to West Germany to receive alternative treatment for his cancer, which had spread to his lungs and his brain. After several months of treatment, Marley boarded a plane to return to Jamaica. When his condition became critical during the trip, the plane landed in Miami, and he later died in a Miami hospital.
Marley's last words are believed to be Money can't buy life, spoken to his son Ziggy.
Marley was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.