"Another hero. Another legend."

Only forty years ago, Bob Marley’s greatest hits were re-released in the compilation album Legend.

To mark the anniversary, The Wailers have announced a UK tour for November 2024. Originally released on May 7th 1984 by Island Records, Legend is the best-selling reggae album of all-time, with over 12 million sold in the US, over 3.3 million in the UK, and an estimated 25 million copies sold globally.

Bob Marley, Friends & Heroes II by Johnny Depp 2023

"Bob Marley. Another hero. Another legend. He was a unique artist whose enormous contribution to the world will live on." 
Johnny Depp


With hundreds of remixes and covers paying homage to the music artist over the years, those unfamiliar with Marley's story will undoubtedly recognise hits like: Is This Love, No Woman No Cry, I Shot the Sheriff, and the peace anthem One Love/People Get Ready.

Following his untimely death due to cancer in 1981, Marley was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and in 2001, he was bestowed The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Millions of fans mourned the loss across the globe, including his friend and steadfast admirer Johnny Depp. Like so many others, Johnny was blown away by Marley's musical artistry, brave determination and charismatic talents.

Looking back, Johnny recalls cherishing Marley’s rebelliousness and soulful yearning for truth. The musician’s vibrant personality inevitably left a lasting impression on Johnny and he honoured Marley's memory in 2023 by painting him alongside fellow departed friends River Phoenix, Heath ledger and Hunter S. Thompson in the second Friends & Heroes limited portrait series. According to Johnny, "Bob's expression of rage for wanting peace so badly was inspiring."

 

Bob Marley, Friends & Heroes II by Johnny Depp 2023

Born in the rural Jamaican community of Nine Miles in 1945, Bob Marley evolved to be one of the most salient figures in music history. A cultural icon and unparalleled reggae luminary, he's renowned today for heartfelt songs like Redemption Song, as well as his inspiring advocacy for social change and peace over war. Not only did Marley rise from his humble beginnings to overcome the chaos of Jamaica’s music industry, but he skilfully navigated the politically partisan violence that thrived in Kingston throughout the 1970s.

"His songs about living in Trench Town [Kingston], boyhood and inner thoughts placed him in the same arena as Bob Dylan," says Johnny. Marley's experiences fed the poignancy of his lyrics and reggaeton sound; forging a legacy that continues to influence modern music and resonate with listeners today.

As the Jamaican music scene shifted from ska to the slower paced rhythm of reggae during the late '60s, Marley embraced the Rastafarian way of life and grew his local following with The Wailers, alongside Bunny Wailer and Peter Macintosh. The latter eventually left the band and were replaced with Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt, as the I-Threes.

In 1972, he signed with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and soared to international stardom in 1976 with the release of Rastaman Vibration, peaking at no. 8 on the Billboard Top 200. “Bob had a rebel type of approach, but his rebelliousness had a clearly defined purpose to it,” says Blackwell. “It wasn’t just mindless rebelliousness, he was rebelling against the circumstances in which he and so many people found themselves.”

Marley's advocacy for revolution and peace cannot be underestimated. In 1976, amidst simmering political tensions in Jamaica, he survived a failed assassination attempt only two days before performing in the (non-partisan) free concert Smile Jamaica he organised in Kingston. The icon continues to make waves today and unifies listeners with lyrics challenging colonialism and racism or, as he sang in One Drop: “fighting against ism and schism.”