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Bob Marley Still Performed After His Failed Assassination

One of the most shocking days in the history of Jamaica was on December 3rd, 1976, when Bob Marley and some of his bandmates were shot at at his home studio at 56 Hope Road. While the bullets pierced him, they could not bring the man down. Bob Marley survived this failed assassination and continued to perform.

Two days after this failed assassination attempt, Bob Marley had recovered and performed at the Smile Jamaica concert which was already scheduled. This was a politically motivated shooting and offers a dark glimpse in Jamaica’s political history.

But how did Bob Marley get to a point where there was a price on his head? And what was the reason why he, a singer, was considered to be such a threat?

Bob Marley Still Performed After His Failed Assassination. Join FactsVerse to learn more about what happened that fateful day at 56 Hope Road…


The backdrop of our story is in Jamaica in the 1970s. The ruling party was the left-wing People’s National Party led by Michael Manley; the opposing party was the right-wing Jamaican Labour Party led by Edward Seaga.

Sadly, Jamaica wasn’t a society that allowed for polite and civilized political debate. Violence was the norm during elections and the streets of almost every parish was plagued with violence between the two political factions.

Fear spread throughout the island and the people of Jamaica would sleep and awake with bullets flying by and disturbing the silence they would long for. As a result, many Jamaicans left the country – probably thinking they’d never return to live or even visit.

It was clear that someone had to do something to quell this violence. There had to be someone who would focus on uniting the divided nation. There had to be someone who could inspire unity and who would bring a smile to every Jamaican’s face.

That man was Bob Marley.

By the time the mid-1970s had come about Bob Marley was one of the most famous people in Jamaica. Outside of Jamaica, he was perhaps the most-famous Jamaican and for many, he was the only Jamaican who others knew about.

His music inspired hope and joy and regardless of one’s political inclinations, they always loved Bob Marley. But Bob Marley himself never expressed any political view or affiliation. In fact, his music often criticized the State and all agents of the State – calling them ‘Babylon’ in many of his songs. This was in-line with his views as a Rastafari – where only God or Jah was his authority and politics were of no interest to him.

Surely, he was the right person to bring Jamaicans today. He was scheduled to perform at the Smile Jamaica concert on December 5, 1976. Along with other big reggae stars, he would perform this concert in Kingston and help Jamaicans forget these troubles amidst the violence that continued to plague the nation.

In the days approaching the Smile Jamaica Concert, Bob Marley and The Wailers were rehearsing at 56 Hope Road. This was the house where Bob Marley lived and where he recorded his music. Today, it’s the home of the Bob Marley museum.

It’s where he spent some of the most wonderful moments of his life. It’s also the place that almost became the place of his death. While Bob Marley was lost in his music and seemed to be focused on nothing else, there were some gunmen approaching the house – who had been paid to assassinate Bob Marley – knowing that he was a threat to those who wanted to keep Jamaicans society divided.

What follows is the harrowing story of the assassination attempt on the most-loved person in Jamaica. It’s truly a miracle that he lived to tell the tale…but it still sends chills down our spines.



On December 3rd, 1976, gunmen broke into 56 Hope Road while Bob Marley and The Wailers were performing their music – planning for the big concert two days later.

Then, without warning, shots broke out. Bob Marley had been shot in his chest and his arm. His wife Rita had been shot in the head. Bob’s manager, Don Taylor was also shot – in his torso and his legs. One of the band members, Louis Griffiths was also shot in the torso.

By Jah’s blessings, there were no deaths. Bob Marley was briefly hospitalized but he managed to recover in just one day.

The Smile Jamaica Concert wasn’t cancelled. Bob Marley and The Wailers performed at the concert and it remains one of the most famous concerts in Jamaica’s history. The concert certainly provided some relief to the horrors of what was happening in the country.

Sadly, however, the concert didn’t do much to quash the political violence. It continued to plague the country and in fact – many believe that the concert actually caused more harm.

You see, the current Prime Minister of Jamaica at the time was Michael Manley – the leader of the People National Party. But Edward Seaga’s Jamaican Labour Party was eager to take over power from the party that had ruled Jamaica since its independence in 1962. The country, thus far, had been a de-facto one-party state and one section of Jamaicans were eager for change and weren’t too keen to see any more of Michael Manley.

The Smile Jamaica Concert wasn’t held by either of the two warring political parties. But Michael Manley endorsed the concert and stated that he was glad it was happening. The Jamaican Labour Party saw this as an endorsement and felt that Bob Marley was affiliated with the People’s National Party.

The full details on who planned the assassination attempt on Bob Marley are still not clear and it’s possible that it will always be a mystery. But one account states that the CIA hired a gunman from the Jamaican Labour Party to shoot Bob Marley.

This has led to conspiracy theories and various investigations on what happened. It has been discussed in pretty much every book written about Bob Marley, documentaries about his life, and even in the popular Jamaican novel – A Brief History of Seven Killings.

But while the island was awash with gossip about why Bob Marley was shot, he himself felt it was time to leave Jamaica…not sure of when…or even if he’d return…



Even after he had been shot at 56 Hope Road, Bob Marley couldn’t let his fans down. Many thought he wouldn’t perform at the Smile Jamaica concert but he didn’t want to disappoint. He promised he’d perform just one song and ended up performing for an hour and a half.

But after the Smile Jamaica concert, his morale was low – perhaps for the first time. It was around this time that he decided to go on a self-imposed exile to England.

While in England, Bob Marley continued to record music and recorded some of his best albums and songs while in the country. In fact, Bob Marley’s time in England was crucial to spreading reggae music to the country – and eventually reggae music became a huge part of British culture and society.

But no matter how big he became in England or anywhere else in the world – Bob Marley’s true home would always be in Jamaica. Some people from Jamaica were sent to travel to England to meet Bob Marley to convince him to end his exile and return to the island. He was needed to unite the people once more.

Bob himself knew that he was needed in Jamaica and after a long exile in England he returned to Kingston – this time, with an even better idea.

In 1978, Bob Marley and other reggae artists performed in The One Love Peace Concert. By this time, power had shifted and the Jamaican Labour Party was now ruling Jamaica. While much of the violence had ceased, tensions still existed and peace wasn’t entirely restored. The One Love Peace Concert, like the Smile Jamaica Concert brought Jamaicans of different political factions together.

One of the most striking moments of the concert is when Bob Marley called both Michael Manley and Edward Seaga on stage – as both were in attendance. The image of all 3 men having their hands in the air to represent unity is now one of the most iconic images in Jamaica’s history.

While political violence is sadly a part of Jamaican society even today, one can’t deny that the One Love Peace Concert struck a chord. Bob Marley was seen as an icon of unity and still is.

Bullets tried to silence him but they just couldn’t.

Bob Marley continued to have a successful music career following the One Love Peace Concert. He performed music in his native Jamaica as well as in other countries – most notably in several countries in Africa – perhaps the place where he felt most at home apart from Jamaica. His music was loved by ordinary people in the streets of Trench Town to the Royal Family of Gabon.

His music is still loved by fans from around the world.

Bob Marley eventually developed melanoma in one of his toes. It’s been rumored that this was due to playing football one day when he lived in England and injuring his toe after his foot came in contact with another player.

The melanoma developed cancer and doctors suggested that he amputate his toe. But he felt that he couldn’t do this as he wouldn’t be able to dance again and also, it conflicted with his. Rastafari beliefs.

He had to even go all the way to Germany to receive medical treatment. While spending time in Miami, Bob Marley died on May 11, 1981. He was only 36 years old. Yet, in this short life, he sang volumes that we still enjoy to this day.

He made us remember that whenever there is a chance to hate and hurt, there is also a chance for one love.

So, now let’s hear from you:

Are you a fan of Bob Marley? Did you know about his failed assassination attempt?

We’re glad he survived and was able to continue to create great music throughout his short but incredible life.

And now, here’s what we want to know:

Do you think that singers today sing about things that matter about the world?

Or are they more interested in pure entertainment and don’t care about spreading a message?

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