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Here Are All The Real Life Pieces That Were Missing From The Much-Talked-About Bob Marley Biopic

BY Abena Dzaka February 19, 2024 8:48 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Facebook @Carine Doré Mifa

Bob Marley’s One Love biopic tells the true story of Bob Marley’s life, but it omits several significant incidents and details with the film mainly focusing on his life from 1976 to 1978.

The entirety of the film follows the singer’s life in the years between Smile Jamaica and the One Love Peace Concert, which serve as opening and closing themes respectively.

There are also several flashbacks to Marley’s earlier years, including when he first met Rita, when he signed his first record deal, and when he discovered Rastafari. 

The story however only presents a portion of Bob’s life through this prism.

Rather than try to fit his whole 36-year story into a two-hour film, the biopic omitted many important details about Bob Marley’s life that are either unrecorded or have come to light.

Here are some missing pieces of the biopic. 

Bob Marley’s Affairs While Married to Rita 

The affairs Bob Marley had with other women while he was married to Rita are one aspect of his life that is mainly absent from Bob Marley: One Love biopic. Although the full scope of his affairs is not explored, the movie makes a passing reference to the fact that he is not being faithful to his wife. The closest the film gets is a few fleeting cameos from Cindy Shakespeare, one of the women Bob dated while he was married. The number of women Bob Marley dated during his marriage is unknown, particularly during the two years he lived in London. 

Bob Marley had more children

The children Bob Marley had with Rita were not the only ones he fathered as it came to light that he had other kids from his extramarital affairs.

The biopic doesn’t go into enough detail about his adultery, only briefly mentioning it in a passage of speech. On his website, Bob Marley states that he is the father of six children who were not born to Rita. Through his relationships with Pat Williams, Janet Hunt, Janet Bowen, Lucy Pounder, Anita Belnavis, and Cindy Breakspeare, he had five sons and one daughter.

Bob Marley’s father died when he was 10 years old

Bob Marley: One Love does not delve deeply into Bob’s early years, and the movie does not feature his father at all. This is because Norval Marley, his biological father, died when he was just ten years old. In 1955, at the age of 70, Norval passed away from a heart attack. Before his death, Bob and his father did not have a close relationship because Norval had to travel frequently for work to support Bob’s mother, Cedella Malcolm, financially. 

Bob Marley had a stepfather, two half-brothers, and two half-sisters

Bob Marley’s mother remarried following the death of his biological father. In the years that followed, Cedella and her new husband, Edward Booker, had two children. The biopic omits the information that Bob had two half-brothers, Richard and Anthony. This might be a result of the family relocating to Delaware from Jamaica after Edward Booker’s death in 1976. Over the years, Cedella also gave birth to two daughters. Bob’s mother’s relationship with Taddeus Livingston made Claudette Pearl his half-sister; Constance Marley is his other half-sister from an unidentified father. 

The Smile Jamaica concert was much longer in real life

Bob Marley: One Love includes the Smile Jamaica concert as a means of adding more songs, but the movie portrays it as having a very limited setlist. Only two of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ songs—War and So Jah S’eh—are heard. 12 songs were performed, but only these songs were included in the official Smile Jamaica setlist.

Bob Marley wrote the Kaya album while in London

The biopic concentrates on Bob’s activities in London, which omits another aspect of his musical journey. The film mainly features him and the band recording the Exodus album, with Bob writing songs like Jamming, Exodus, and Turn Your Lights Down Low. All of this did occur, but the musician was also working at the same time on the Kaya album. 

How Bob Marley Dealt With His Toe Injury

Bob Marley’s toe injury revealed that he had cancer, and the film mentions in passing that he refused to have his toe amputated per the doctor’s orders. The biopic omits the details of how he decided to handle the injury. Bob decided to have the nail and nail bed removed entirely rather than cut off the toe or completely ignore it. 

Bob Marley’s Final Years Before His Death

Bob Marley: One Love biopic ended at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978, but Bob Marley still had a few more years to live after this event. He spent time continuing to tour and create new music, including albums like Survival and Uprising. As shown in the credits, he went to Africa in 1980 to celebrate Zimbabwe’s independence and performed there. His Uprising Tour continued throughout 1980, leading up to his final concert performance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 23, 1980.

How Bob Marley Died

Bob Marley: One Love ends with a title card confirming that Bob Marley passed away on May 11, 1981, but it doesn’t show or explain how he died. Over time, Bob’s cancer diagnosis worsened, and he eventually learned that the disease had invaded his brain, lungs, and other critical organs. He flew back to Jamaica, where his condition deteriorated after eight months of trying experimental treatment in Germany. Bob passed away soon after the plane made an emergency landing in Florida to get him medical attention.