It was truly an honor to visit Bobs house while we were in Kingston. 6 years after Bob passed away in 1981, his wife converted the home into a museum. The family home (in which they raised 6 children) is now furnished with good and platinum records instead of furniture. 56 Hope Road became a home to Bob in a time where Rastas were looked down upon in Jamaica. Aside from race wars, the country grapples with severe issues of classism, which shaped and propelled Bob’s art.
Although 56 Hope Road is not where Marley grew up, it has been gifted to us as to preserve music, much like how the house was given to him. Tours start every 30 minutes and last about 90 minutes total. Our host was incredibly knowledgeable and started the tour by asking us each where we were from, to which he was able to give a way in which Bob Marley was connected to all of us. Although Bob passed away at the young age of 36, the tour shows how much work he put in in his life & how his influence won over the entire globe, over time.
To maintain the attraction (and profitability) of the museum, you aren’t allowed to take pictures on the inside. Instead, you’re forced to truly pay attention. This first room you enter has platinum and gold records hanging on almost every inch of every wall. As the tour guy listed songs & sang a reference lines, it was amazing to see how many Bob Marley songs I knew, without having ever purposely listened to any of them. There is a room upstairs covered in posters and promotion of Bob’s concerts. He didn’t travel as many places as you might think — only went to a few countries in Africa even though he based an album in the continent. He also held fundraising concerts for places he couldn’t get to. Did you know he never performed Buffalo Soldier live?!
He built a studio/distribution shed in which he aimed to provide full service music where you could record your music, mix it down and leave with it on a record. While the home looks very much like a standard family home (for rich people) you can see where Bob added things like a studio and an extra kitchen, to accommodate his true life. My favorite part I the house is his; a window-covered deck which faced the front window, where he hung a huge hammock.
I didnt truly understand or appreciate Bob’s fondness for Haile Selassie, a former Ethiopian emperor who is considered to be a messiah, according to Rastafarians. What I found most interesting was that, apparently, Haile Selassie had made it so that his wife was coronated the same day as he was, instead of making her wait for later date & belittling the woman as was customary. Bob believed in equality as well, an ideal which was the backbone of much of his music.
Having everything and everyone close was a blessing and curse for Bob. Since he had recording facilities in his home, there would be a lot of guests in the house — along with his 6 kids. Keeping children around forced Bob to make songs that he felt comfortable sharing with his kids. Still, the curse came when his home was invaded and Bob ended up shot — so did his wife, Rita. I’m sure Bob felt blessed that his wife was part of his trio of background singers (The I -Threes, or 3 Little Birds) but I can’t imagine how he felt when his family was also put in danger. He ended up moving to London after that.
Bob could not be stopped by mere humans. He passed away in 1981 while travelling. Bob was 36 years old and suffered from cancer. Those facts are wild to me; it doesn’t feel like Bob is gone at all. People of all ages, races, religions & walks of life know Bob Marley songs even if they don’t know English because he truly believed in equality and world peace. He is a true legend, not only for his music, but for the lessons he left behind. I’m still in awe that I sat on his front steps & christened the designated smoking area.
This is definitely a great way to get to know Bob through the eyes of his admirers. A quick review of his Wikipedia will give you a bit more information on how complex and troubled his life might have truly been. The tour guide will tell you about the “6 children” Rita and Bob had… Rita has a daughter when they met, but they only had 3 other children together. Cedella, their first child together, is the one who runs the museum. Wikipedia lists 11 children for Bob and then some. I cant imagine his life was as nice as he sang it to be… “no woman, no cry” was written for a reason 👀
If you’re in Kingston, would totally recommend this museum because I think it helps you appreciate Jamaican culture and history a bit more. I didn’t realize how much about Bob Marley I didnt know, which left me with nothing but inspiration. His message is so positive that you might just leave his house a better person