Amol Rajan

Rise and Fall of the Soul Rebels

I & I: The Natural Mystics – Marley, Tosh & Wailer


Jonathan Cape 305pp £20 order from our bookshop

Never known for a lack of self-regard, Bob Marley was devoted to the idea of himself as a ‘soul rebel’. That the championing of black emancipation in independent Jamaica was a worthwhile cause, and that he had some success in achieving it before his death at the age of thirty-six, cannot be doubted. But the grand irony of his life is that such successes came despite his being the bastard son of a white naval officer with the splendidly Victorian name of Norval Sinclair Marley. ‘Me don’t dip on the black man’s side nor the white man’s side. Me dip on God’s side,’ he once said. Alas, God was less reluctant to dip, because it was melanoma – a skin cancer associated chiefly with white people – that returned him to his maker.

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