Over the course of his short 36 years here on earth, Bob Marley brought reggae to the international stage. But music wasn’t his only accomplishment. Although the iconic musician was married to Rita up until his untimely death in 1981, his marriage was a somewhat open agreement. The Jamaican singer had 11 children with at least eight different women, but some say that there are other “forgotten” kids out there too.
He also adopted two of Rita’s children, raising everyone together as one giant family. Given the fact that their father was THE Bob Marley, most of his children followed in his footsteps and became musicians in their own right. Today, they also work on keeping his legacy alive, nearly thirty years after his death. Curious to know what everyone is up to? Let’s check out our list of Bob Marley’s children!
Bob Marley Adopted Sharon
Sharon Marley is Rita’s daughter, born to an unknown father two years before she married Bob in 1966. After the couple married, Bob adopted Sharon and raised her as his own. Sharon was in the musical group Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, along with her younger siblings (Ziggy, Stephen, and Cedella).
It was actually Bob who asked his children to form a band, but they only found their groove after his death. Sharon has won three Grammy awards for Best Reggae Album with the group. In 2014, Sharon married Ekow Alabi Savage in a private ceremony in Ghana. Sharon met Ekow, a Ghanaian music artist when she first moved to the West African country in the ‘90s.
Bob Trusted Cedella the Most
Born in August 1967, Cedella is Bob and Rita’s first biological child together. As the firstborn, Cedella says that she bears a lot of responsibility. She is now the CEO of Tuff Gong International, her father’s recording label. Sharon says that it was actually her father who asked her to run his business when she was only ten years old.
But at such a young age, Cedella didn’t understand that her father had a business outside of the recording studio. “Most people overlook that side of Daddy. He started his own record label,” she told Rolling Stone magazine in 2014. “He was one of the handful of Jamaicans at the time who actually owned their own pressing plants. He wasn’t just pressing his own records, but other Jamaican artists.”
Growing Up as Bob’s Daughter Was Tough
Cedella says that growing up was hard, not because she was the daughter of Bob Marley, but of Rastafarians. She recalls her friends having to lie to their parents about having sleepovers at her house. “People had this idea that our house was filled with marijuana smoke and music when I think our house was the strictest house on any block,” Cedella told reporters in 2014.
But being the daughter of a prominent reggae singer also meant that the yard was always filled with her father’s friends, who were a mixed bag. While some were good men, others weren’t. Bob would let his kids hang around his friends, but when the sun set, Cedella says he would send his daughters home.
Cedella Is a Fashion Queen
Besides running her father’s record label, Cedella is also a fashion designer. In 2012, Cedella partnered with Puma to design the uniform for the Jamaican track and field team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. “It’s not even a dream come true because it’s something I never dreamed would be possible,” the fashion designer told Caribbean Media Vision.
Well, Cedella’s designs were a hit. She took this momentum and ran with it. In 2014, the fashion designer created a line of men’s sportswear, Marley, which was inspired both by what her father would wear on the soccer field and the 2014 World Cup designs. The proceeds go towards funding the Reggae Girlz, Jamaica’s national women’s soccer team.
Where Did Ziggy Come From?
Ziggy is probably the most well-known of the Marley children. Born to Rita in October 1968, his musical career began back when he was in school and known by his stage name “Freddie Dic.” The name, however, never stuck, and he went on to be known as Ziggy. While many people think that the nickname, which means “little spliff,” was bestowed upon him by his father, Ziggy says that it was actually inspired by David Bowie.
According to Melody Maker magazine, the singer says he was a huge Bowie fan. When the Ziggy Stardust album came out, he started calling himself Ziggy, and the name stuck. In the late ‘70s, Ziggy was often seen at some of his father’s concerts, which definitely influenced his future career as a singer.
Ziggy Started Singing Young
Contrary to popular belief, Ziggy first started creating music when his dad was still alive. He says that when he began his music career, Bob was always there to lend a helping hand. His father not only wrote Melody Maker’s first song, Children Playing in the Streets, but he produced it. He also took his kid’s band on tour with him, letting them perform in front of huge crowds, and he always reminded them to sing from their belly.
“He was with us. He supported what we were doing,” the singer told The Real in 2018. “His example that he set in terms of using music as a vehicle to spread a message to the world is an example that we continue to follow.”
Bob Looked Out for His Kids
Bob didn’t just help his kids by writing their music and producing their tracks, but he also instilled values like the power of a good work ethic and a high standard of music. Ziggy says that these values are why his father became so well known. Bob had such a high standard for himself and his music, which allowed him to complete in the international music scene.
Growing up with a famous dad who tours the world can be tough, but Ziggy says that Bob was around enough. “We hung out with him a lot,” Ziggy told Rolling Stone magazine. “But the daughters, because of our culture and my father’s lifestyle, the girls didn’t get to hang out with him as much as we did.”
Baby Stephen Marley
Born in April 1972, Stephen is the youngest of Rita and Bob’s biological children. Like his other siblings, Stephen is a singer-songwriter who has a sound similar to his father’s. He is an eight-time Grammy Award winner: twice as a producer, three times as a solo artist, and three times with his older siblings’ band, Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers.
Today, Stephen still tours and occasionally collaborates with his siblings. According to Stephen, his father’s studio must remain maintained. “Being in there is like being in an altar. It’s a holy place,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 2014. “All musicians that come through feel that the energy of the place.”
Stephen Took to the Studio
It’s not just the energy that Stephen remembers from his father’s studio. It was also the way that his father supported his children musically. One of Stephen’s favorite images of Bob was the night he caught his kids singing his songs. One night, Stephen and Ziggy went to the studio and asked the technician to turn on the microphones so they could goof around.
“We went into the vocal booth and started singing every song of our father’s,” the singer said. “When we came out, our father was sitting there listening to us, and we didn’t even know the whole time he was there!” Stephen says that although Bob didn’t comment on their little performance, he didn’t leave until they were done singing.
Coming Into His Own
In the ‘90s, Stephen spent most of his time producing music. In ’99, he produced Chant Down Babylon, which was a remix album of his father’s music. The album featured several hit artists such as Lauryn Hill, Steven Tyler, and Busta Rhymes. After spending years behind the scenes, Stephen finally became a solo artist in 2007.
His first three albums won Grammy awards for Best Reggae Album and were, the critics said, “everything a modern reggae album should be.” Today, Stephen lives in Miami, where he owns a home and a private recording studio. It also seems that his children have the reggae bug. Both his son Jo Mersa and daughter Mystic have released their own music.
The Lesser-Known Robert “Robbie” Marley Jr.
Robbie is one of the lesser-known Marley brothers. He was born in May 1972, out of wedlock. His mother is Pat Williams, a local Jamaican woman who had an affair with Bob. Not much is known about Pat, especially since Robbie was brought to live with Bob and Rita when he was still a baby.
Although he was not biologically related to Rita, she raised him as her own. Unlike the other Marley siblings, Robbie did not pursue a career in music. He still, however, receives his share of his father’s estate, which is split equally among the Marley siblings. For the most part, Robbie stays out of the spotlight to focus on graphic design or motorcycles.
Rohan Was a Troublemaker
Like Stephan, Rohan was also born out of wedlock in May 1972. In fact, he and Robbie are just three days apart. Not much is known about his biological mother, Janet Hunt, other than the fact she couldn’t care for him, so he was eventually brought to live with Rita and Bob.
However, this living arrangement didn’t last long. Rohan was quite the troublemaker, and his parents didn’t know how to handle him. He was eventually sent to live in Miami with Bob’s mother, Cedella Booker. Well, the move did Rohan some good. He quickly cleaned up his act and eventually went on to play linebacker at The University of Miami.
Rohan Dated Lauryn Hill
But it’s not just his football skills that he’s famous for. Rohan was also in a fifteen-year relationship with singer Lauryn Hill. Although the couple have kept their private life out of the public eye, they share five children together. However, there have been rumors swirling in recent years that they broke up because Rohan had several affairs, which resulted in a handful of pregnancies.
However, Rohan says that he did nothing of the sort. “People have long been fabricating stories about the relationship,” he told reporters in 2012. “One story that came out was that I got her assistant pregnant – false.” In fact, Rohan says that he was not the one who cheated, but that Lauryn was the one with a wandering eye.
Their Messy Breakup
Rohan has also said that the reason why he and the mother of his children never married was that Lauryn didn’t want to take that step. “I want to be in a relationship where we’re both confident about what we have; I love you, and you love me too,” Rohan said in 2012. “But [marriage] wasn’t what she wanted.”
Rohan and Lauryn separated while she was pregnant with her sixth child, which enraged many fans. However, it was later revealed that Rohan was not the father of the child. The two seem to be on good terms, and Royan even publicly congratulated his ex-girlfriend after she gave birth in 2011. Rohan is now married to Brazilian model Barbara Fialho.
Continuing His Father’s Legacy
In 2009, Rohan co-founded an organic coffee plantation, Marley Coffee, which operates in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. According to Rohan, his farmers do everything organically. “I said to them, ‘If you use any chemicals on this property, I will come and cut every tree down, and you won’t have a farm,’” he told Business Insider in 2014.
Well, the business model worked. Marley Coffee is now a multi-million-dollar business and sells coffee to thousands of stores worldwide. Unlike his other siblings, Rohan wasn’t bit by the reggae bug. Sustainable farming was his way of continuing his father’s legacy. “I thought about how I could really encompass his message of peace, love, and sustainability,” he said.
Everyone Respected Their Father
Like his other siblings, Rohan remembers his father fondly. When he thinks of his dad, the first thing that pops into his head is the smell of his house. “You can smell fruits. You can always get a good fish tea in a calabash,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 2014.
He also remembers how well respected his father was. No matter where Bob went, people showed him respect. The respect was well-earned, too, as Bob was always helping those in need. He would give people food, water, and a roof over their heads. He would also foot doctors’ bills and school tuition. “I don’t know anyone like my father. The only person like my father are my brothers and my sisters.”
Family Is Important for Karen Marley
Karen was born in May 1973 to her mother Janet Bowen, also known as “Janet from England.” Like Bob’s other baby mamas, not much is known about Janet. Karen went to live in Jamaica with the other Marley siblings and was raised by Rita, whom she calls mom. Although the Marley siblings have different mothers, Karen says that they are a tight-knit family.
Her sister Cedella is always trying to get everyone to come to Miami to have dinner at her house, while Ziggy invites everyone to his home in Los Angeles. “We do the family thing,” she told Rolling Stone magazine in 2014. “We’re big about that.” It’s nice to see that the Marley siblings are just like any other family.
Karen Doesn’t Like Talking About Her Dad
Like her sister Cedella, Karen is also a fashion designer. However, she prefers to stay out of the spotlight and doesn’t usually speak about her father with the press. “Sometimes, when I speak about my dad, it is a little touchy for me,” she told reporters. “I wanted to just live without someone going, ‘Oh, there’s Karen Marley.’”
But as she gets older, Karen says that interviews are getting easier for her. She also says that she struggles with automatically being connected to her father’s image. “People come to me expressing their like or dislike with what the family is doing. We’re not Bob. We’re his kids.” While the siblings try to carry on their father’s legacy, they are all individuals doing their own thing at the end of the day.
Stephanie Had a Normal Childhood
Bob wasn’t the only one in his marriage sleeping around. Rita was also involved in a few extramarital affairs. Born in 1974, Stephanie is the daughter of Rita and a man named Ital. Not much is known about Ital, except that he was not present in his daughter’s life. Stephanie was eventually adopted by Bob, who accepted her as one of his own.
Stephanie has fond memories of her childhood, especially since she wasn’t seen as a child of an international superstar. At school, the Marley children were disciplined like everyone else. “I appreciated having the opportunity of growing up like everybody else and not feeling like I deserved more, and I want the same experience for my children,” she told the South China Morning Post in 2011.
Stephanie Was the Odd One Out
By the time Stephanie was a child, her older siblings had already formed their musical band. She loved watching them perform and shares their love for music but realized at an early age that she wanted to do something different with her life. After completing her A-levels in London, England, Stephanie studied psychology at the University of Western Ontario.
According to Stephanie, her siblings are actually more introverted than she is. “They connect with others through music. They do their thing on stage, but then they want their private time,” she told reporters in 2011. Stephanie is the director of the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, as well as a hotelier.
Julian Marley Likes to Perform
Like Karen, Julian was also the result of an extramarital affair conducted during Bob’s time in England. Not much is known about Julian’s mother, Lucy Pounder, except that she raised her son, not Bob and Rita. Julian still grew up around his father and other half-siblings, as he split his time between England and Jamaica growing up.
Given that his father was Bob Marley, Julian was always surrounded by music. He taught himself how to play several instruments, and by the time he was five years old, he already recorded a track at his father’s studio in Kingston. By 1993, Julian moved to Jamaica so he could focus on his music career. In 2002, Julian and his brothers incorporated their label, Ghetto Youths International, and have since performed in various festivals around the world.
Ky-Mani Marley aka “Adventurous Traveler”
Ky-Mani was born in Jamaica to Anita Belnaivis, a prominent Jamaican table tennis champion. His name has East African origin and means “adventurous traveler.” He was raised by his mother, not Bob, and relocated to Miami when he was nine years old.
Ky-Mani was unaware of his musical abilities as a child, but with his mother’s direction, he began to studio piano and guitar and even played trumpet in his high school band. As a teenager, Ky-Mani began to rap and eventually joined forces with his brothers Stephen, Julian, and Damian. Ky-Mani also adventured into the world of acting. He even starred in a few Jamaican films, such as One Love and Shottas.
We All Know Damian Marley
Born in 1978, Damian was only two years old when his father passed away. His mother, Cindy Breakspeare, is a former Miss World. She was in a relationship with Bob from 1997 until his death in 1981, although he was still married to Rita. Like his siblings, Damian has a love for music and has been performing since the age of 13.
In 2006, Damian won not one but two Grammy Awards (Best Reggae Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance), making him the first reggae artist to win two Grammy awards on the same night. Besides music, Damian has also ventured into the CBD and cannabis industry. He partnered with Ocean Grown Extracts to convert a former California prison into a cannabis grow-op.
Who Are Imani Marley and Makeda Jahnesta?
While the Bob Marley website officially names 11 of Bob’s children, he actually has two more. Imani is the oldest of all of the Marley siblings. She was born in May 1963 to Cheryl Murray. Just as Imani is the eldest Marley sibling, Makeda is the youngest. She was born to Yvette Crichton in 1981 after her father had already passed away.
While Makeda has said that she received a trust fund when she was born, she does not have a share in the Marley family estate. For reasons unknown, these two daughters are not included on the Bob Marley website and have stayed out of the public eye.
Now that we’ve covered his kids, let’s take a look at how Bob Marley became the international superstar that he was.