A lingering rumor about the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” continues to circulate. Despite evidence to the contrary, people still believe the song is part of the repertoire of legendary Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley. The song was released and performed by American jazz artist Bobby McFerrin.
The misinformation gained strength and many “likes” it after someone posted a video on YouTube attributing the song to Marley. Part of the reason the myth won’t die is a small similarity between completely different song lyrics.
Marley’s song “Three Little Birds” has the lyrics “Don’t worry ’bout a thing” and “Every little thing gonna be all right”. The lyrics to McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” are “Don’t worry, be happy.”
Another reason the urban legend lives on is that McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was written and performed in the same memorable style that Marley was known for. The song was written, performed, and released in September 1988 by McFerrin, seven years after Marley’s death.
The song earned McFerrin two Grammy Awards, one for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1989. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for weeks. the list of Rolling Stone’s top 15 whistle songs. The video for the song featured the famous comedian Robin Williams, along with Bill Irwin, an original member of the Pickle Family Circus in San Francisco.
McFerrin is an American jazz artist known for his ability to improvise, vocal control and fluency. He was known for singing a cappella and mixing a variety of rock, soul, folk and jazz themes with original lyrics.
The artist has won 10 Grammy Awards in categories ranging from best jazz vocal performance to best children’s recording. McFerrin is a regular guest conductor of classical music, working with the London Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and numerous U.S. symphony orchestras.
Instead, Marley released and performed his song “Three Little Birds” in 1977 as part of the album Exodus and the song was released as a single in 1980. Marley combined elements of reggae, ska and rocksteady in the his compositions, infusing them with his vocal skills and unique and distinctive songwriting skills.
Marley is responsible for introducing Jamaican music and culture to the world. He has won more than 13 awards and honors, including the United Nations Third World Peace Medal, the Grammy Award for his career, and his “Catch a Fire” album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
His album Legend was the best-selling reggae album of all time, and Rolling Stone places him at number 11 in the top 100 artists of all time. Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Jamaica honored him with the Order of Merit.
It’s easy to see how the uninformed can confuse the two songs because of the Caribbean influences and the similarity of the themes. Combined with this, there is a resemblance in the first names, along with the erroneous rumor that McFerrin committed suicide. Marley died in July 1997 of malignant melanoma. McFerrin lives and lives well and lives in Manhattan, NY since writing this article.