For nearly half a century, Bob Marley the musician, the revolutionary, the legend has influenced various populations at a global level that remains unparalleled. Marleys passing in May 1981 not only left a huge void in what is perhaps modern musics most spiritual and yet accessible genre, reggae, but also, as a testament to the stars power, set the stage for the unprecedented, posthumous growth of his fan base.
The enduring nature of Bob Marleys fame is anything but a simple pop music phenomenon. Just one index of it is the success of the Marley compilation album Legend, which is one of only 17 albums to pass the 10-million mark in sales (in 2009), continues to sell at the rate of about 250,000 albums per year, and is the second-longest charting album in the history of Billboard magazines record-keeping. With an ever-growing fanbase (as evidenced by his 33+ million roster of fans on Facebook and Twitter), his fame has elevated his stature to one of a spiritual beacon.
More than 30 years later, the undying messages that go beyond his music make Marley a cultural force to be reckoned with. His way of living was in many ways a political act on the world stage, across the worlds continents. Today, wherever politically minded youth seeks ways to find solidarity (as was exemplified over recent months by the popularity of Bob Marleys music and imagery amidst scenes of protest in the Middle East and Africa and at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and its many offshoots), they find him to be an ever-potent cultural touchstone. And yet, for all the loyalty shown to the icon, and all the renewing excitement for those still discovering his legacy, many mysteries and unanswered questions have remained. A glut of concert films, biographies, DVDs and unauthorized videos already have attempted to explore his story over the years since his death, but the man himself remains almost as enigmatic as he is beloved.
Now, through the unprecedented, combined efforts of the Marley family, Oscar-winning master filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, many of those questions have been given an answer, and many of those mysteries have in great part been solved.