Did Bob Marley screw his band members out of their money?

Bob Marley
Bob Marley

Cedella Marley, the daughter of Bob Marley said something very interesting to the Jamaican Observer.

When asked about the over-commercializing of the Bob Marley name, a man who was anti-establishment, the king of reggae daughter replied:

We have to remember Daddy was in the music business and it’s a business. At the same time, we keep the integrity of the man separate from the integrity of the musician. It’s a fine line because I don’t think lots of people know Daddy was a very smart businessman. He started his own record label, built his own studio, and started his own distribution company where he was pressing records. He was very strict when it came to his business. He was the first person to print a Bob Marley T-shirt [laughs], let’s not get it twisted! He would wear his own T-shirt because that is the music business.

Her statement in essence is saying Bob Marley was a fake, meaning that what he portrayed in his music as a musician was not really what he was as a man. Could it be that Bob Marley only hijacked the Rasta movement to get rich? It might sound far-fetched, but the fact that none of the musicians that played with the Wailers are receiving any royalty today, coupled with the words of Cedella, it is quite possible that Bob Marley and Chris Blackwell willfully robbed these men, especially the Barrett Brothers.

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With Carly’s (RIP) beats and his brother, Aston’s bass, the Wailer rhythm section planted the seeds of today’s international reggae. Yet neither Aston nor Carly’s estate is getting a penny from the sales of Bob Marley and the Wailer’s music today. Yes, not a single penny. Aston Barrett had to sue the Bob Marley estate, Chris Blackwell and Island records to get a little chump change after Bob’s death. He ended up settling for less than a million dollars and that’s all she wrote. So the Bob Marley estate is worth over a billion dollars but the men who played the music got less than a million dollars and will not receive another penny.

There are many who will say it is not Bob Marley’s fault why the Barrett brothers got robbed. But if Bob Marley was a smart enough businessman to make sure his money was protected, why didn’t he do the same for the Barrett Brothers? Not only were they good friends but it is the duty of a Rasta to do right by his fellow man. It is said that the Barret brothers could not read and right, so obviously they were not as business savvy. Now, I can see Chris Blackwell taking advantage of them because of their illiteracy, but how could Bob just stand by and let that happen? Wasn’t it Bob Marley’s duty as a Rasta Man to say to the Barret brothers, “Hey, guys, am doing ABC to protect myself make sure you do the same”? There is a saying that business and friendship don’t work but it is supposed to be different where Rasta is concerned. Maybe when it comes to business, Bob Marley was not much different than Chris Blackwell.

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As Cedella Marley said, “we keep the integrity of the man separate from the integrity of the musician.” Most people don’t look at Bob that way. The see him as a messenger sent by Jah to spread the message of Rasta all over the world. Obviously, money is more important than message. It might be time we start looking at Bob the Musician and Bob the man, separately. After all, who would know more than his own daughter?



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  1. I will never Believe Bob Marley would had cheated his Band members out of there Money this was all Rita & Chris Blackwell doings.

  2. Unfortunately it is the people who write the music and lyrics who get the royalties, most musicians who play on the tracks never get more than what they are paid to play on the track or on a gig. That is the music industry thing not in particular to Bob Marley. Bob was known to be very generous to the street people in Jamaica and it has been estimated that he actually supported around 3000 people in various ways throughout his lifetime.The music industry is not a fair one for sure, but you have to have the writing credits to make money

  3. This dear 18 or 20 karat reggae guy always want to spread propaganda over the great planetary bob’s reputation….. you’re a small personality and you’ll die so.

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