BOB MARLEY’S FAMILY
The Family Members and Story
Bob Marley’s Family
The Reggae Legend’s Children
Bob Marley had 13 children, three with his wife Rita. His children are, in order of birth:
- Imani (born May 22, 1963)
- Sharon, born November 23, 1964, to Rita by another man before she married Bob, and adopted by Bob.
- Cedella, born August 23, 1967, to Rita.
- David “Ziggy”, born October 17, 1968, to Rita.
- Stephen, born April 20, 1972, to Rita.
- Rohan, born May 19, 1972, to Janet Hunt. Married to Lauryn Hill.
- Robert “Robbie”, born 1972, to Pat Williams.
- Stephanie, born 1974?, to Rita by another man, and adopted by Bob.
- Karen, born 1973, to Janet Bowen.
- Julian, born June 4, 1975, to Lucy Pounder.
- Ky-Mani, born February 26, 1976, to Anita Belnavis.
- Damian “Jr. Gong”, born July 21, 1978, to Cindy Breakspeare.
- Makeda, born May 30, 1981, to Yvette Crichton.
Together, Rita and Bob had five children: Sharon, Cedella, Ziggy, Stephen and Stephanie.
Imani Carole Marley (born May 22, 1963)
Imani is Bob’s first born child
Sharon born (November 23, 1964), to Rita by another man before she married Bob, and adopted by Bob.
Sharon, the oldest, was conceived with an unnamed man when Rita was only 17.
. After coming into Sharon’s life when she was only eight months old, Bob adopted her.
She is said to have been Bob’s “favorite”. She is married and goes by the name of Sharon Marley Prendergast. In 1983 and ’84, Sharon took time off from her college studies in business administration to help her younger siblings record two debut albums under the name The Melody Makers. In 1989, she made an attempt at acting with her half-sister Cedella in the film The Mighty Quinn, starring Denzel Washington and Robert Townshend. Presently she is curator of the Bob Marley museum in Jamaica. Of her childhood, Sharon states “We had a lot of music in our household. We listened to a lot of gospel music and music from other cultures. We used the music to keep us spiritually grounded” (online, …legacy/children). However, music was not something her father wanted her to get involved in because he knew that the business aspect had its snags.
Yet, Sharon also says “But music is our life I guess. What we are doing now is nothing we haven’t been doing for the last fifteen years at least.” Sharon also works with the Caribbean business Ghetto Youth United, and is keeping busy in trying to open a day care training center in Jamaica, the first of its kind.
Cedella , born August 23, 1967, to Rita.
Cedella Marley, Rita and Bob’s first child conceived together, was born in Kingston in August of 1967. The Wailers celebrated her birth by releasing then single “Nice Time”, which later became her nickname. Educated in public schools, the girls took a liking to her musical surroundings and helped form the Melody Makers. Her talents as a songwriter, singer and dancer within the band have developed over the years. Cedella must balance the demands of the band with her work as CEO of Tuff Gong International, the record label her father developed in the early 1970’s, and with her role as a mother.
Cedella says, “Music was never a subject in our house. You know, it was like food on the table, it was just there. Daddy wanted me to become a doctor or lawyer, and Ziggy to be something else and Sharon to be something else, but we decided we wanted to play music for a while” (online…legacy/children).
In addition to her musical pursuits, the wife and mother of three is an actress, a children’s-book author and a clothing designer. Her Catch a Fire clothing line will be outfitting the Jamaican track-and-field team for the 2012 Olympics.
David “Ziggy”, born October 17, 1968, to Rita.
David “Ziggy” Marley is a Jamaican musician, the oldest son of Rita and Bob Marley. He learned how to play guitar and drums from his father, a legendary roots rock reggae singer.
He was born ‘David Marley but nicknamed Ziggy in reference to British glam rocker David Bowie and his 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
In 1979, Ziggy and his siblings, Cedella, Stephen and Sharon, made their recording debut with their father, “Children Playing in the Streets”. The Melody Makers, as the group came to be known, played occasionally for several years, including at their father’s funeral in 1981. Their debut LP was Play the Game Right, which was a very pop-oriented album, earning Ziggy some derision from critics. The band’s label, EMI, wanted to market Ziggy as a solo act, and so the Melody Makers moved to Virgin Records, where they recorded Conscious Party (1988, produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth). The album was critically and popularly successful, as was One Bright Day (1989) and Jahmekya (1991).
As the 1990s continued, the Melody Makers’ sales slowly declined, beginning with Joy and Blues (1993), Free Like We Want to Be (1995) . Ziggy had become politically active by this time, working with the United Nations and creating a record label called Ghetto Youth United. A solo album, Dragonfly was released on April 15, 2003.
He voiced a Rasta jellyfish in the 2004 film Shark Tale, and also collaborated with Sean Paul on a cover of his father’s song “Three Little Birds” for the soundtrack. The cover was the title song for the film, although gained less exposure than “Car Wash” by Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott due to not being released as a single.
Ziggy also sang the theme song for the popular PBS children’s show “Arthur”
In addition to his work in 2004 he also decided to marry a VP at William Morris Agency.
David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley is Bob’s oldest son and the front man of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, a married father of six is also an actor, activist, humanitarian and pro-marijuana advocate, recently releasing the graphic novel Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman.
Stephen, born April 20, 1972, to Rita.
Stephen “Ragga” Marley was born April 20, 1972 and is the second son of Rita and Bob Marley. The fourth child was born April 20, 1972 in Wilmington, Delaware when Rita was living with Bob’s mother.
Stephen is the fourth member of the Melody Makers, working as a singer, deejay, writer and producer for the group. He was only six years old when the group released their first track. “We’ve been making music together since birth. Our first song was produced by our father, called ‘Children Playing in the Streets'” (online…legacy/children). He also developed the record label Ghetto Youths United. In the late 1990’s, he was kept busy remixing his father’s hits with the likes of Erykah Badu, Lost Boyz and Lauryn hill. It was his work with Lauryn Hill that led the Melody Makers to perform “No Woman, No Cry” with the Fugees at the 1997 Grammy Awards in New York City.
He recently completed the 27-city Bob Marley Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival tour with his four brothers, Ziggy, Julian, Damian and Ky-Mani, each of whom have their own professional recording careers. The tour was the first time the brothers have officially performed together on stage.
Stephen was part of the group “Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers” with his (half-) siblings Ziggy, Cedella, and Sharon, and took lead vocals on the track “A Who A Say”.
Stephen is a singer, songwriter and producer, Stephen released his solo debut, Mind Control, in 2007, which received a Grammy Award for best reggae album the following year. He was also the main producer on his brother Damian Marley’s first three successful albums and brought the Bob Marley mashup album Chant Down Babylon to life in 1999 as executive producer.
Robert (Robbie) born May 16, 1972, to Pat Williams.
Robert Marley (Robbie), was born less than a month after Stephen and was Bob’s first of many children not fathered by Rita. Not much is known about his mother Pat “Lucille” Williams as Robbie was brought to live with Bob and Rita. He is not a musician and has mostly stayed out of the spotlight as a motorcycle stunt rider.
Rohan born (born 19 May 1972), to Janet Hunt.
Rohan Anthony Marley, whose mother was Bob’s girlfriend Janet Hunt, first came to the attention of many as a linebacker on the University of Miami Hurricanes football team in the early ’90s. He married his college sweetheart while still at the school, and they had two children together. In 1996 Rohan met singer-rapper-songwriter-musician Lauryn Hill, and they began a love affair, and since then five children have been born from their “spiritual union.” Rohan, who briefly played pro football in Canada, went on to found the Marley Coffee Co. and Tuff Gong Clothing.
Karen born (in 1973), to Janet Bowen.
Karen Marley, is the third biological daughter of Marley, she was born in England in 1973 to her mother Janet Bowen aka “Janet From England”. Karen grew up in Jamaica with the Marley’s and attended school with Stephanie. Karen has always had a passion for fashion and interior design influenced by her great grandmother, father and growing up in Jamaica.
The opportunity to express both her passions is what brought Karen to Los Angeles, where she now works as an assistant designer for Catch a Fire Clothing and Tuff Gong Clothing, as well as a property developer.
Stephanie born (in 1974) to Rita by another man, and adopted by Bob.
Stephanie was born out of wedlock after Rita had an affair with a man named Ital. Bob adopted Stephanie as and accepted her as his own and she is officially recognized as one of his children.
Stephanie Marley may possibly be Rita and Bob’s fifth child. Sources vary but Timothy White writes that Cedella Booker alleged that the girl was not fathered by her son. Rather, she asserts, Stephanie was fathered illegitimately by a man named Ital. Whatever the truth may be, Stephanie is recognized as Bob’s child and did indeed receive a sum of money from his estate.
Julian, (born June 4, 1975), to Lucy Pounder.
Julian Marley born in London and raised by his mother, Lucy Pounder, Julian also inherited his father’s musical genes. He is a singer, songwriter, producer and self-taught musician with three albums to his credit, most recently 2009’s Grammy-nominated album Awake. He is the son of reggae legend Bob Marley and a Bajan mother, Lucy Pounder.
Born in London, Julian’s childhood was spent between England and Jamaica.
Musical from an early age, he can play the keyboard, drums, bass, guitar, among other instruments. Along with his brothers Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley, he became involved with Ghetto Youth International, a production company, in 1989. Julian released a solo album, Lion in the Morning, in 1996
and embarked on a world tour. He and his brother Damian Marley toured with the Lollapalooza festival in 1997.
He released his latest album, A Time and Place, in 2003.
Julian also does a lot of work with the Ghetto Youths Foundation and co-produced the Miami for Haiti benefit alongside younger brother Ky-Mani in 2010 to aid the earthquake-ravaged country.
Ky-Mani born (February 26, 1976), to Anita Belnavis.
Ky-Mani Marley was born in Jamaica to Bob’s then-girlfriend Anita Belnavis, a Caribbean table tennis champion, and raised in inner-city Miami. Ky-Mani was initially more interested in sports than in making music, but that all changed when he discovered a knack for rapping and singing and released his debut album, Like Father Like Son, in 1996. He has released five albums in total, with a sixth on the way; acted in feature films (Shottas, One Love); and starred in the BET J reality series Living the Life of Marley.
Damian born (July 21, 1978), to Cindy Breakspeare.
Damian Marley (born on July 21, 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica) is the
youngest male child of reggae legend Bob Marley, and the only child born to Marley and Cindy Breakspeare, the Miss World 1976. Damian’s nickname is Junior Gong which is derived from his father’s nickname of Tuff Gong.
A talented artist in his own right, Damian has been performing since the age of 13. He shares with his brothers and sisters a full-time career in the Marley family business, music. Unlike his brothers and sisters, however, his musical specialty is “deejaying”, the Jamaican style of “rapping” which some consider a predecessor of modern hip-hop. He is very much at home in this element, as his stage presence attests, and he is also an adept song-writer. As of 2005 he has released three albums, his first, Mr. Marley in 1996, his second,
Halfway Tree in 2001, and his third, Welcome To Jamrock in September 2005. Halfway Tree was the 2002 recipient of the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. Damian frequently tours with his brothers Julian and Stephen, who are both members of the Ghetto Youths Crew, their own band.
In the summer of 2004 Damian participated in the 27-city Bob Marley Roots, Rock, Reggae Festival Tour with his four brothers, Ziggy, Julian, Stephen and Ky-Mani, each of whom have their own professional recording careers.
Like his father before him and the rest of the Marley family, he is a Rastafarian and his music reflects both his beliefs and the Rastafarian guiding principles of one love, one planet and freedom for all. While he travels and tours the better part of the year, his home base is split between Kingston, Jamaica and Miami, Florida. He is single and has no children.
In 2010 he teamed up with rapper Nas on the collaborative album Distant Relatives, which bridged the gap between dancehall and hip-hop.
Makeda born (May 30, 1981), to Yvette Crichton.
Makeda Jahnesta Marley was born to Yvette Crichton in 1981 in Miami mere weeks after Bob’s death. She is the singer’s youngest child, but she did not grow up with or around any of her half siblings. She attended high school and college in Pennsylvania and currently resides in the Philadelphia area. Makeda pleaded guilty to drug-possession charges (marijuana, of course) in 2010 after being arrested in 2008 and is now on probation for seven years.
Bob Marley’s boys