Short Biography A five-time Grammy-winning musician, actor, artist, activist and humanitarian, Ziggy Marley has established his presence on the public stage for over a quarter-century.
Wild and Free (Tuff Gong Worldwide), his fourth solo album, may be Ziggy's most political and personal to date. The overall theme of the album is a powerful one, as it propels Marley to challenge social injustice along with the political weapons of ignorance and fear. It was produced with friend and collaborator Don Was at Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, CA as well as Marley's own studio.
Among other new Marley projects is the comic book Marijuanaman (Image Comics), which offers a new toke on a familiar genre: a superhero with a galactic view of Earth's dwindling natural resources, and how one versatile plant might help save us all. Based on an original character created and developed by Marley, the book was written by Joe Casey (Gødland, Butcher Baker) and illustrated by Jim Mahfood (Kick Drum Comix, Mix Tape).
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ziggy Marley and his siblings first sat in on recording sessions with his father's band, the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers, when he was ten years old. Later, Ziggy joined with his sisters Sharon and Cedella and brother Stephen to become Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, allowing him to craft his own soulful sound which blends blues, R&B, hip-hop and roots reggae. The Melody Makers earned their first Grammy (Best Reggae Recording) for their third album Conscious Party (1988), produced by Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, which included the hit songs "Tomorrow People" and "Tumbling Down."
Subsequent albums included the Grammy-winning One Bright Day (1989), Jamekya (1991), Joy and Blues (1993), Free Like We Want 2 B (1995), Grammy-winning Fallen is Babylon (1997), Spirit of Music (1999) and Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers Live, Vol. 1 (2000), featuring some of their biggest hits, as well as a cover of Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved." While selling millions of records and selling out numerous concerts, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers never lost sight of their foundations in faith, fellowship and family.
After two decades as the driving creative force behind The Melody Makers, Ziggy's first solo tour came in Summer 2002, on the 23-city Jeep World Outside Festival, joining such artists as Sheryl Crow, Train and O.A.R. The following year saw the release of his debut solo album, Dragonfly, followed by 2006's Love Is My Religion, a Grammy winner that further explored personal, social and political themes amid a fragrant mix of roots reggae, traditional rock ‘n roll, African percussion and other varied musical elements. Recently, Marley won his fifth Grammy Award, in the category "Best Musical Album for Children," for Family Time, a 2009 collection of reggae-inflected, family-oriented songs which features family and friends including; Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Judah Marley, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Involved with a breadth of charities, Marley leads his own, URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a non-profit organization that benefits efforts in Jamaica, Ethiopia and other developing nations. The charity's missions range from building new schools to operating health clinics to supporting charities like Mary's Child, a center for abused and neglected girls.
Ziggy also continues to head Tuff Gong Worldwide, in honor of his father's own music label Tuff Gong Records, which envisioned independent ownership of Marley music. Ziggy recently reclaimed most of the publishing rights to his music, giving him a strong sense of fulfillment in light of the "independent spirit of what my father dreamed of."
In-depth Biography The oldest son of reggae legend Bob Marley and his wife Rita, Ziggy Marley was the natural heir to the throne left vacant by his father's untimely 1981 death. Along with backing band the Melody Makers, a unit comprised of his brothers and sisters, he successfully carried on the tradition of communicating the music's message to a growing global audience, even scoring a U.S. Top 40 single in the process -- a claim neither of his parents could make. Born David Marley in Kingston, Jamaica on October 17, 1968, he received guitar and drum lessons from his father, and began sitting in on Wailers recording sessions at the age of ten. In 1979, Ziggy, his sister Cedelia, brother Stephen, and half-sister Sharon all joined Bob in the studio to record the single "Children Playing in the Streets." Christened the Melody Makers, the four siblings continued playing together at family events, and even performed at their father's state funeral.
Marley was not even 17 when he and the Melody Makers issued their EMI debut LP, Play the Game Right. The burdens of becoming a second-generation star weighed heavily on the youth -- who looked and sounded almost eerily like his father -- and he allowed the record and its 1986 follow-up, Hey World!, to veer closely toward pop music, resulting in derision from reggae purists. Poor sales, combined with EMI's public desire to market Ziggy Marley as a solo act, prompted Marley & the Melody Makers to jump to the Virgin label, where they entered the studio to record their masterpiece, 1988's Conscious Party. Produced by Talking Heads' Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, the album was both a critical and commercial smash, with the single "Tomorrow People" reaching number 39 on the pop charts. The follow-up, 1989's One Bright Day, continued the Melody Makers' artistic growth; it was also their best-selling effort to date, cracking the Top 20 and, like its predecessor, winning a Grammy.
Marley & the Melody Makers resurfaced in 1991 with Jahmekya, another assured and creative effort. It sold well, edging into the Top 20, but failed to generate much radio or video airplay. Released in 1993, Joy and Blues barely charted, despite adding elements of contemporary dancehall (a showcase for Stephen's rapping skills). The latter record was the Melody Makers' last release for Virgin, and they moved to Elektra for 1995's Free Like We Want 2 B. Fallen Is Babylon followed in 1997, and scored a third Grammy. Like his father, Marley eventually emerged as a leading political voice, and was named a Goodwill Youth Ambassador for the United Nations; at home in Kingston, he also founded his own record label, Ghetto Youth United, created to spotlight the next generation of reggae talent.
In addition to the four siblings in the Melody Makers, three other Marley children -- Damian, Julian, and Ky-Mani -- also pursued careers in music. The music continued into the new millennium, as Marley released Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers Live, Vol. 1 in fall 2000. Without the Melody Makers, Dragonfly was released as his first official solo album in 2003, but its 2006 follow-up Love Is My Religion was the one with the hit, as the album’s title track put Ziggy back on reggae radio throughout the globe. His 2009 effort Family Time was a charming children’s album, while 2011’s Wild and Free returned to the socially conscious reggae that launched his career. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi