The reggae singer remembers his famous dad in time for Father's Day.
It’s a busy year for the oldest son of reggae legend Bob Marley. Not only has Ziggy Marley, 44, recently embarked on a nationwide tour for his latest album Wild and Free, he’s also the executive producer of Marley (out now), the first documentary authorized by the Marley family on the life of the late reggae star.
Marley took a moment from his tour to chat with ESSENCE.com about Father’s Day, what he remembers most about his famous dad, and the most important thing he learned from him.
ESSENCE.com: Marley came out in April to great reviews and fanfare. What were your favorite parts?
ZIGGY MARLEY: Parts of it were emotional for me, especially the part when I told the story about [Bob’s] time in Germany when he was sick and us kids never knew much about it. That was pretty emotional, yeah. I think my favorite part is hearing the story of the Wailers rehearsing at the cemetery [to get rid of stage fright]. I laughed when I saw that.
ESSENCE.com: How will you and your family celebrate Father’s Day this year?
MARLEY: Every day of our lives, our Father is with us. Every day our Father is here with us spiritually anyway. I remember him every day, you know.
ESSENCE.com: What’s your most memorable moment with him?
MARLEY: One of the most memorable moments, I think, would be me and my brother Stephen taking a trip with him to Zimbabwe for the independence celebration in 1980. That was pretty special for both of us to be with him during that significant time.
ESSENCE.com: Do you remember what it was like the first time you saw your dad perform?
MARLEY: I remember significant concerts, [for example] Zimbabwe is one, and then there’s the One Love concert. What would happen is, me and my younger brother would go on stage at the end, like the last song, usually a song called "Exodus." Those times are stuck in my memory; being on stage with [Bob] and my brother and we’re jamming out to him and the Wailers playing "Exodus" until the end of the show.
ESSENCE.com: What would you say is the most important thing Bob taught you?
MARLEY: Hard work, respect mothers and spirituality, because as a child we learned to have manners for elders and to respect our mothers and fathers. So I think what I learned from him as a parent, not as a musician, but as a parent, is how to treat other people.
ESSENCE.com: Do you think people have any misconceptions of your father?
MARLEY: I think the biggest misconception is a lot of people think they know [Bob]; a lot of people think they do, but you know, the only ones that truly know my father are my mother and his mother. All those other people that think they know him, they only think they know him. People come to me [and say] “I thought I knew everything, but this film really showed me that I didn’t know everything.” So that’s what [Marley] is about, to let those that think they knew everything [after you watch it] now you know everything.
ESSENCE.com: What’s your favorite song or album by your father?
MARLEY: It’s hard to say a favorite song of my father’s. I listen to all his stuff; a lot of the old stuff before the '70s. The album I used most was Survival during my high school years. That album brought me into the consciousness of Africa, the struggle of Black people.
Photo by Kii Arens