Ziggy Marley

by James HargroveJune 11, 2024,
Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley is a singer and songwriter who is also the eldest son of Reggae legend Bob Marley and a Grammy Award-winning artist. 

Who Is Ziggy Marley?

Ziggy Marley, the son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, established himself as one of the genre’s top artists. Ziggy and his siblings founded the Melody Makers after their father’s passing in 1981.

In 1988, the Melody Makers group won a Grammy for Conscious Party, giving them their first break into mainstream success. Marley launched a solo career in 2006 and subsequently released a number of Grammy Award-winning albums, such as his 2016 self-titled album.

Early Life

Originally named David Nesta Marley, Ziggy Marley was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on October 17, 1968. As the eldest son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, Ziggy has carried on the family’s musical legacy, becoming one of the genre’s most recognized artists.

While growing up, Bob Marley spent time living in Trench Town, a poor neighborhood in Kingston, while his father tried to succeed as a musician with the band Wailers (which became Bob Marley and The Wailers). His talented mother, Rita Marley, began singing with the group in the mid-1970s.

During his youth, Marley also lived in Wilmington, Delaware, the city in which his brother Stephen was born in 1972. Besides his older sister, Cedella, he also had an older half-sister named Sharon from his mother’s prior relationship.

The siblings first teamed up to record “Children Playing in the Streets,” in 1979. As written by their father, the song tackled the horrible poverty that many Jamaican children were going through. The proceeds of the song went to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The Melody Makers

After Ziggy’s father died in 1981, he performed at his funeral alongside Stephen. Eventually, they became the Melody Makers along with Sharon and Cedella. All four members of the band provided vocals, while Ziggy also played the guitar, a musical instrument that his father taught him. 

Stephen also played the guitar and drums. “What a Plot,” their next single under the Melody Makers, was released in 1981. 

Sadly, the Melody Makers didn’t have much success with their first album, Play the Game Right, released in 1985. The next album they released, Hey World (1986), suffered a similar fate, despite receiving many positive reviews.

Breakthrough Album

Virgin Records released Conscious Party (1988), their first album under the changed name Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers. With this album, the group broke through to mainstream audiences.

Featuring reggae, pop, and rock elements, the album was produced by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads. With mostly his own writing, Marley was able to infuse the songs with an upbeat and positive feeling that was relevant and thought-provoking at the same time.

The listeners also enjoyed the track “Tomorrow People,” and the album was successful on both the pop chart and an R&B/hip-hop chart in the United States. A Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album was presented to the group in 1989.

Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers’ next album, One Bright Day (1989), was another smash hit that earned the group their second Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. However, they were not able to match the sales of their previous studio effort.

In the 1990s, the group recorded several more albums, including 1997’s Grammy-winning Fallen Is Babylon, before eventually disbanding.

Solo Successes And Personal Life

In 2003, Bob Marley released his first solo album, Dragonfly, which explored social, political, and personal topics. There were several guests on the recording; among them were Red Hot Chili Peppers members like Flea and John Frusciante.

The whole Dragonfly album had strong hip-hop and rock influence. With his next release, Love Is My Religion (2006), he received a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album 2006.

Ziggy Marley delivered highly acclaimed music throughout his career, performing solo as well as with family members and other famous artists like Donna Summer. He won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album for his self-titled 2016 album, making it a record of seven Grammy awards.

Along with his music, The Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (U.R.G.E) organization was established by Marley as a way to help children in poverty. Marley and his wife, Orly Agai Marley, have four children.

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