Reggae singer Robert "Bob" Marley won worldwide fame before his death from cancer in 1981 and remains a Jamaican icon. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine rated him #11 in its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
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Echoes of Bob: 6 Places to Experience Bob Marley’s Jamaica

Photo by Friedrich Stark

TRVL Tips Echoes of Bob: 6 Places to Experience Bob Marley’s Jamaica

No musician left so indelible a mark on an entire nation’s collective consciousness the way Robert Nesta Marley (1945-1981) did in Jamaica.

Nils von der Assen
Nils von der Assen Editor

Wherever you go on the Caribbean island, there’s a fair chance you’ll hear his hits blaring through the speakers at full force. And, if you’re down for a full-blown Bob Marley experience, Jamaica’s got plenty of sites for a  proper reggae pilgrimage. Visiting them is getting as close to Jamaica’s history and soul as you can.

Bob was born and buried in the rural village of Nine Mile, a picturesque place of rolling hills and modest homes deep in the St. Ann countryside in the north of Jamaica. A tour of his birth house – easily recognizable from the giant red-yellow-and-green flags waving outside – includes a rendition of a Bob song by a local Rastafari guide, as well as an up-close look at some deeply personal memorabilia. The rasta-colored ‘rock pillow,’ upon which Marley laid his head when seeking inspiration, is iconic among reggae fans. A visit to Bob’s Mausoleum, where he is buried next to his mother, his half brother, and his favorite guitar, will give you the chance to pay him your respects.

Trenchtown

When he was 13, Bob and his mother left their rural home for Kingston and set up shop in the impoverished neighborhood of Trenchtown. Life was tough here, and street violence rife, but music kept Bob on the right path. This was where he first picked up the guitar together with his roommate Bunny Wailer, with whom he’d eventually start the band that made music history: The Wailers. The tenement block where the friends lived is now a national heritage site and cultural center where reggae musicians continue to record, perform, and inspire. Not to be missed!

Tuff Gong

A tour of Tuff Gong , the iconic music studio where he recorded most of his hits, takes you to the core of Bob’s craft. Named after the record label he founded in 1965) and located in the creative heart of Kingston, this is where you’ll find state-of-the-art recording equipment, both vintage and new, and see and feel where the magic happened. Tuff Gong is where the master’s legacy truly resonates. Present-day artists, fuelled by a love of reggae, spend entire afternoons here jamming, rehearsing tracks, and trying to catch a break in Kingston’s music industry.

Strawberry Hill Hotel

Following an assassination attempt that nearly killed him in 1976, Bob often sought refuge at Strawberry Hill, a hotel owned by his producer Chris Blackwell. You’ll find the walls are adorned with pictures of famous guests and friends who visited Bob here, from Grace Jones to the Rolling Stones, as well as a collection of platinum discs. The Strawberry Hill is now a fancy boutique hotel with an infinity pool and sweeping mountain views. Worth it when you’ve got money to burn…

The National Stadium

Kingston’s Wembley Stadium may be the home turf of Jamaica’s national football team – nicknamed The Reggae Boyz, of course – but to any Jamaican, it’s much more than just a sports venue. This is where, in 1981, thousands gave their final salute to Bob during his unforgettable funeral ceremony. Three years earlier, On 22 April 1978, the stadium’s pitch was the setting of what was probably The Wailers’ most epic concert. With Kingston ravaged by civil war, the band headlined the One Love Peace Concert and Bob did the unthinkable, inviting the leaders of both warring parties onto the stage to shake hands – which they did. Visit this venue and hear the echoes of the cheers.

The Bob Marley Museum

Kingston’s most-visited tourist site, the Bob Marley Museum – his home for the last six years of his life – is the number 1 place of worship for any reggae pilgrim out there. It is as intimate (family photos on the walls, his favorite guitar still by his bed side) as it is unsettling (bullet holes in the wall, evidence of the attempt on his life in ’76). Drink an Irish Moss here, Bob’s favorite drink, or have a healthy bite at the One Love vegetarian restaurant.

Strawberry Hill Hotel booking

The Strawberry Hill hotel, where Bob Marley often sought refuge after the attempt on his life. Photo by Nils von der Assen

Nils von der Assen

Nils von der Assen

The Strawberry Hill hotel, where Bob Marley often sought refuge after the attempt on his life.

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