Bob Marley was a hero figure, in the classic mythological sense. His departure from this planet came at a point when his vision of One World, One Love - inspired by his belief in Rastafari - was beginning to be heard and felt. The last Bob Marley and the Wailers tour in 1980 attracted the largest audiences at that time for any musical act in Europe.
Bob's story is that of an archetype, which is why it continues to have such a powerful and ever-growing resonance: it embodies political repression, metaphysical and artistic insights, gangland warfare and various periods of mystical wilderness. And his audience continues to widen: to westerners Bob's apocalyptic truths prove inspirational and life-changing; in the Third World his impact goes much further. Not just among Jamaicans, but also the Hopi Indians of New Mexico and the Maoris of New Zealand, in Indonesia and India, and especially in those parts of West Africa from wihch slaves were plucked and taken to the New World, Bob is seen as a redeemer figure returning to lead this planet out of confusion.
In the clear Jamaican sunlight you can pick out the component parts of which the myth of Bob Marley is comprised: the sadness, the love, the understanding, the Godgiven talent. Those are facts. And although it is sometimes said that there are no facts in Jamaica, there is one more thing of which we can be certain: Bob Marley never wrote a bad song. He left behind the most remarkable body of recorded work. "The reservoir of music he has left behind is like an encyclopedia," says Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes. "When you need to refer to a certain situation or crisis, there will always be a Bob Marley song that will relate to it. Bob was a musical prophet."
The tiny Third World country of Jamaica has produced an artist who has transcended all categories, classes, and creeds through a combination of innate modesty and profound wisdom. Bob Marley, the Natural Mystic, may yet prove to be the most significant musical artist of the twentieth century.