Jamaican reggae musician and social activist Bob Marley lived to be only 36 years old, but he left his mark on the world through his music, activism, and family. Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley died in 1981, and has since become world famous, not only for making reggae an international phenomenon, but also for the messages of peace, love and justice he promoted through of his songs. During her lifetime, Marley acknowledged having 12 children with several different women, and many of them have become musicians in their own right. Bob Marley was married to Alpharita “Rita” Anderson Marley for over two decades. They had an open relationship, and even though they only shared three children, the couple raised Bob’s children out of wedlock together as a large family. The following is a description of his 12 recognized children and their accomplishment.
Ziggy Marley is the eldest son of Bob Marley with his wife Rita. Born David Nesta Marley in 1968, it is said that the origin of the name “Ziggy” was given to him by his father and means “little spliff”, but in a 1988 interview, the musician told Melody Maker magazine who is a big fan of David Bowie and at the time of the release of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album, he started calling himself “Ziggy” and the name stuck. In 1979, Ziggy and her sisters Sharon and Cedella and her brother Stephen formed the band Melody Makers, which was named after the British music weekly. Their first recording was “Children Playing in the Streets,” a song written for them by Bob Marley four years earlier. The copyright for the single was donated to the United Nations to help with its International Year of Children program. The group disbanded in 2002 after several successful albums. Ziggy himself is a Grammy winner and has about 15 albums to his credit as a solo artist.
Sharon Marley is the daughter of Rita Marley from a relationship she had before she married Bob. Bob Marley adopted Sharon and gave her a family name. The eldest of the siblings is a singer, dancer and curator. He was a member of the band Melody Makers formed with his sister and brothers. With this group, he released ten albums and won three Grammy Awards for “Conscious Party”, “One Bright Day” and “Fallen Is Babylon”. She appeared in “The Mighty Quinn” in 1989, and her song with Cedella Marley and Sheryl Lee Ralph is on the soundtrack. Sharon now balances her work on stage with the Caribbean Ghetto Youth United business and as curator of the Bob Marley Museum. She is also the Managing Director of the Total Care Learning Center in Kingston.
Cedella Marley, the second child of Bob and Rita Marley. She is a singer, dancer, fashion designer, actress and entrepreneur. He oversees brands linked to his father’s name, such as Tuff Gong and Marley Natural. In the 1980s and 1990s, she appeared in several films, including “The Mighty Quinn” and “Joey Breaker”. He was a member of the Melody Makers, and since the group disbanded, he has been helping to lead the “1Love” family charity. She has several clothing lines and designed the uniform for the Jamaica track and field team at the 2012 Olympics. She is the author of a book, One Love, and the musical “Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.” presented her father’s songs and opened in New York City in 2014. She started a trendy men’s clothing line in 2014, with revenue from the “Marley” line earmarked to fund the women’s national football team. of Jamaica, the Reggae Girlz, which is the official sponsor and of which it acts as ambassador. He launched the Marley Natural cannabis brand in 2014 and in 2017 wrote a cannabis cookbook, “Cooking with Herb”. She is the Acting Director of the Bob Marley Foundation, an organization that seeks to provide social interventions in Jamaica through educational and community development initiatives. She raised funds to help the Reggae Girlz in their historic participation in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Robbie Marley was named Robert Marley Junior in honor of his father, but is called “Robbie” to avoid confusion with the older Marley. He is the son of Bob with Pat Williams and grew up with Bob and Rita Marley. He has a career in graphic arts.
Karen Marley is the daughter of Bob Marley and Janet Bowen, of English descent. He has focused his career mainly on fashion. He was born in England in 1973, but grew up in Jamaica with the Marleys and went to school there. She is an international creative consultant and is known for her care of lifestyle products, specializing in “all things beauty”. Her passion for art and culture began early and she began a career in interior design and had a successful home decorating business in Jamaica. She later founded Buttons and Bows in Los Angeles and now owns the KarenMarley Collection, an online store that includes limited edition, ethical and culturally inspired designs. Its goal is to represent its heritage through beauty in a sustainable way.
Damian Marley is known as “Junior Gong”, a name that goes by his father’s nickname “Tuff Gong”. He is the youngest son of Bob Marley. Her mother is former Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976. Damian is a successful musician whose influences include reggae, dancehall and hip-hop. He is a deejay, singer, songwriter and record producer. She formed her first musical group at the age of 13 called Shephards. The group included the daughter of Freddie McGregor and the son of Cat Core of the Third World. The group disbanded in the early 1990s and began a solo career. In 1996, he released his first album with the Tuff Gong label, called “Mr. Marley.” Her album “Halfway Tree” won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2002.
Stephen Marley is the son of Bob and Rita Marley. He performed on stage with his father at the age of eight. He is a musician and has produced many of his brothers’ recorded works. He began his musical career as a member of the Melody Makers at the age of seven. He has since won eight Grammys: three as a solo artist, twice as a producer on his younger brother Damien’s albums, and three as a member of Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers.
Rohan Marley is the son of Bob Marley and Janey Hunt. He is not a musician, but he once married hip-hop star Lauryn Hill, with whom he had five children. He is engaged in the coffee business and owns the “Marley Coffee” brand. He lived with Bob and Rita Marley from the age of four and then moved in with Marley’s mother after Bob’s death from cancer in Miami, Florida, in 1981. He graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School and played as a collaborator at the University of Miami. He played professional football in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders. He founded Marley Coffee in 2009, an organic coffee plantation and a sustainable farming business in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. He launched the “House of Marley” range of eco-friendly headphones in 2012. He also helps lead the family charity 1Loce and the Tuff Gong Clothing Company. She appeared in the documentary “Motherland”.
Ky-mani Marley is a reggae and hip-hop artist. Its name comes from East Africa and means “Adventurous Traveler”. He is the son of Bob Marley and Jamaican table tennis champion Anita Belnavis. He was born in Falmouth, but moved with his mother at the age of nine to Miami, Florida. He started rap and deejaing as a teenager and was inspired to become a singer when he was asked to sing during a recording session in a Miami studio. He experimented with setting up tracks with his brothers Stephen, Julian and Damian. He released his debut album in 1996 with the Shang Records label “Like Father Like Son”. He released several singles that reached the top of the British reggae charts. He signed with Gee Street / V2 Records in 1997. In 2015 he released his album “Maestro”. He is known for being part of a new generation of reggae musicians and performed at the Midem International Music Showcase in Miami, where he performed a live set in 36 countries by the Caribbean News Agency. He has appeared in “Shottas” and “One Love.”
Julian Marley, is the son of Bob Marley and Lucy Pounder. He was born in England, the only child of Bob to be born there, and is a Grammy-nominated reggae musician, singer and songwriter, often collaborating with his brothers and sisters. He is also active in humanitarian efforts and, like his father, is a Rastafarian who uses his music as inspiration for his life and spirituality. He spent his childhood in England and Jamaica and showed his musical interests from an early age when he learned to play numerous instruments, including keyboards, drums, bass and guitar. He joined his brothers Ziggy and Stephen and became involved with Ghetto Youth International, a production company, in 1989. His solo debut album “Lion in the Morning” was released in 1996. He and Brother Damian van touring the 1997 Lollapalooza Music Festival. Julian and his band Uprising were invited by the Jamaican government to represent the country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Their 2009 album “Awake” received a Grammy nomination. to the best reggae album.
Makeda Jahnesta is the daughter of Bob Marley and Yvette Crichton. The youngest daughter was born in Miami about three weeks after her father’s death. He graduated from Coatsville Area Senior High School and West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He often visited Rita Marley’s home in Jamaica and was a beneficiary of the Marley estate.
Stephanie Marley is the daughter of Rita Marley and a man outside of her marriage to Bob Marley, who later adopted her and gave her her name.