Robert Nesta Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer, musician, and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae, his musical career was marked by fusing elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, as well as his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. Marley's contributions to music increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide, and made him a global figure in popular culture. Over the course of his career, Marley became known as a Rastafari icon, and he infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is also considered a global symbol of Jamaican music and culture and identity, and was controversial in his outspoken support for democratic social reforms. In 1976, Marley survived an assassination attempt in his home, which was thought to be politically motivated. He also supported legalisation of marijuana, and advocated for Pan-Africanism.Born in Nine Mile, Jamaica, Marley began his professional musical career in 1963, after forming the Teenagers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, which after several name changes would become the Wailers. The group released its debut studio album The Wailing Wailers in 1965, which contained the single "One Love", a reworking of "People Get Ready"; the song was popular worldwide, and established the group as a rising figure in reggae. The Wailers released a further eleven studio albums, and after signing to Island Records the band's name became Bob Marley and the Wailers. While initially employing louder instrumentation and singing, the group began engaging in rhythmic-based song construction in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which coincided with Marley's conversion to Rastafari. Around this time, Marley relocated to London, and the group embodied their musical shift with the release of the album The Best of The Wailers (1971).The group started to gain international attention after signing to Island, and touring in support of the albums Catch a Fire and Burnin' (both 1973). Following the disbandment of the Wailers a year later, Marley carried on under the band's name. The album Natty Dread (1974) received positive reception. In 1975, following the global popularity of Eric Clapton's version of Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", Marley had his international breakthrough with his first hit outside Jamaica, with a live version of "No Woman, No Cry", from the Live! album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the United States, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which reached the Top 50 of the Billboard Soul Charts. A few months after the album's release, Marley survived an assassination attempt at his home in Jamaica, which prompted him to permanently relocate to London. During his time in London he recorded the album Exodus (1977); it incorporated elements of blues, soul, and British rock and enjoyed widespread commercial and critical success. In 1977, Marley was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma; he died as a result of the illness in 1981, shortly after baptism into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His fans around the world expressed their grief, and he received a state funeral in Jamaica.
The greatest hits album Legend was released in 1984, and became the best-selling reggae album of all time. Marley also ranks as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of more than 75 million records worldwide. He was posthumously honoured by Jamaica soon after his death with a designated Order of Merit by his nation. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. and No. 98 on its list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time. His other achievements include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame.