The answer to the question “how did Bob Marley die” is not as simple and straightforward as it may appear at first glance.
As frequently happens in the years following the death of a high profile celebrity or politician, the question of how or why they died is disputed. Sometimes the questions are extended to speculating if the person is actually dead at all! So called “conspiracy theories” can always be found somewhere on the internet.
Bob Marley was born in 1945 in Jamaica; he died aged 36, in Miami, Florida. He was a popular singer-songwriter of Reggae style music and was very successful in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
He was also extremely active in other spheres of his life. According to his official website he claimed to have fathered or adopted 11 children: five from his wife and the remainder from a series of affairs with other women. However, other sites allege that he actually had 14 children.
During most of his adult life he was a practising Rastafarian, although shortly before his death he decided to be baptised into the Christian Church. It was his deeply held religious beliefs that contributed to his death. That is if one accepts the official reason for it.
In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year, but was instead a symptom of the already-existing cancer. Marley turned down his doctors’ advice to have his toe amputated, citing his religious beliefs. Despite his illness, he continued touring and was in the process of scheduling a world tour in 1980.
Bob Marley last appeared in concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 23 September 1980.
Shortly afterwards, his health deteriorated and he became very ill; the cancer had spread throughout his body. Marley sought treatment at the Bavarian clinic of Dr. Josef Issels, where he received a controversial type of cancer therapy. After fighting the cancer without success for eight months, Marley chose to fly home to Jamaica.
However, en-route his vital functions worsened. The plane had to land in Miami, Florida, where he was taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention. Bob Marley died on 11 May 1981 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami. The cancer had spread to his lungs and brain and this was the official cause of his death.
After a state funeral in Jamaica he was buried – with his favorite guitar – near to his birthplace. Reputedly, his final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.”
And that should have been the end of the story. But it was then that alternative allegations about the real cause of his death began to surface.
These concerned the American government and, specifically, the CIA, who were alleged to have caused his death.
At a press conference in London in April 2004, his wife, Rita Marley, was asked: “Do you think that Bob Marley was assassinated by the CIA or by another western government agency or do you believe that he contracted cancer through some other means?” She candidly replied: “I have been thinking about it for sometime, I am not sure, they may have, I am still thinking about it.”
Well, that is hardly conclusive, but in 1976 there was an assassination attempt on Bob Marley’s life, his wife Rita, his manager Don Taylor, and Bob himself were all shot by gunmen at Bob’s home in Kingston, Jamaica.
At that time the attack was passed off as being a part of the political violence taking place during local elections. However today there is evidence that the American CIA were heavily involved in trying to destabilize the country because they feared that Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley might align himself with Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
Yet another allegation – which may, or may not be connected to the CIA – is that in 1977 when Bob Marley injured his big toe whilst playing football in France – the same toe that the cancer allegedly started in – a French doctor gave him an injection in his toe whilst dressing it.
Now questions are being asked about the contents of the syringe – was it painkiller or something else? Of course, this theory depends upon there having been a football match, and this is disputed.
And, lastly there is Dr. Josef Issels and his Sunshine Cancer Clinic in Bavaria, West Germany where Marley went for treatment. Apart from the allegation that Dr. Issels was a former German SS officer, it is said that the doctor stated that he was told not to treat Bob Marley because he was “the most dangerous Black man alive”.
So, how did Bob Marley die? Well, there is the official version, and a number of unofficial versions. The only thing they have in common is the fact that none of them claim that he is still alive.
What do you think? Did he die from a naturally occurring cancer, or was it induced? Was it treated or aggravated? Was the CIA involved? Let us know your thoughts by using the comments feed below.