If you are only a casual reggae fan who depends on the Reggae Grammy Awards to tell you who the hottest reggae act is, you might think that the Marleys are to reggae what Usain Bolt is to track and field. That might be true for the father but could not be farther from the truth for the Marley boys, even though they seem to win a Grammy every time they release an album.
For the most part, whenever a Marley has been nominated for a Reggae Grammy Award they usually win. However, there has been a few times where a Marley was actually beaten out for the award.
Below we list artistes who actually beat out a Marley and walked away with the Reggae Grammy Award.
1986 – Jimmy Cliff.
In 1986, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers were nominated for the Reggae Grammy Award with their album “Play the game right”. Depending on where you sit, either the Marleys had not yet learn how to play the game right at that point or that was when they were playing the game right but they would lose out in that race to Jimmy Cliff who won with his album Cliffhanger.
Interestingly, The Marleys lost that year to the man who is actually the first pioneer of Reggae music. Like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff was at one point signed to Island Records and was actually the undisputed leading artiste of reggae music up until he went and performed in apartheid South Africa, a move which derailed his career.
Today it is common for so-called Rasta artistes to perform in apartheid Israel and the reggae community turns a blind eye, a deaf ear and remains mum.
1992 – Shabba Ranks
In 1992, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers were nominated for their album “Jahmekya”. At this point dancehall music starting to take over reggae in terms of popularity and Shabba Ranks was definitely at the top of the dancehall food chain. Shabba Ranks’ album “Raw as Ever” would beat out the Marleys for the Reggae Grammy Award that year.
1996 – Shaggy
In 1996, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers were nominated for their album “Free like we want 2 B”. Like when the Marley lost to Shabba Ranks, dancehall was more popular than reggae music and the Marleys would lose the Reggae Grammy Award to Shaggy who won for his platinum selling album “Boombastic”.
1996 would be the last year that a Marley would be nominated for a Reggae Grammy Award and not win it, unless they lost out to another Marley.
In 2002, Ky-mani Marley was nominated for a Reggae Grammy with his “Many more roads” album but he lost out to younger brother Damian Marley who won the award with his “Halfway Tree” album.
In 2008, Julian Marley was nominated for his album “Awake” but he lost to his older brother Stephen Marley who won with the album “Mind Control”. Stephen would then release the acoustic version of Mind Control the following year and it again won the Grammy in 2010.
In 2012, Ziggy Marley won a Reggae Grammy Award nomination with his album “Wild and Free” but he lost out to his younger brother Stephen Marley who won with the album “Revelation Part 1 – The Root of Life”. This was Stephen’s third Reggae Grammy Award in five years.
So the only Marley to ever lose a Reggae Grammy Award to a non-Marley is Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers and that was over 20 years ago. So the betting man would be wise to put his money on Ziggy Marley winning the Reggae Grammy Award for 2019.