Bob Marley seen in 1979 in Hollywood Tower Records, California, US

Bob Marley seen in 1979 in Hollywood Tower Records, California, US


40 years of Marley’s death: Spotlight on sickness that killed him

On May 11, 202i, Bob Marley would have been 76 years old. But he died 40 years ago at the age of 36. Despite the short life Marley had on earth, his influence on music and lifestyle has refused to abate beyond 40 years after his death.

Many of later generation might not have asked a question about the cause of his death. Some young people attribute his death to excessive alcohol or smoke consumption or even murder.

Marley died in May 11, 1981 from Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) which he was diagnosed 5 years earlier. ALM is a form of skin cancer that appears on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or under the nails. The disease is rare, not common in the general population, but it is the most common form of skin cancer affecting African Americans. ALM accounts for 2–3%Trusted Source of all melanomas.

Marley was born in 1945 to a white middle class father and a black mother, in Jamaica. His childhood was spent in poverty and he had little contact with his father, a naval officer who worked for the British government.

He left home at 14 years old to pursue a music career in Kingston.

In 1972, Marley arrived in Britain with his band The Wailers to tour with Johnny Nash in the hope of launching his international career.

His hit Buffalo Soldier was the singer’s biggest in the UK, reaching number four in May 1983.

The 1977 album Exodus was named Album of the Century by Time Magazine.

Most melanomas result from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. They occur most often in people with light skin, which is more prone to damage from UV radiation.

ALM, however, does not appear to stem from sun exposure. It can affect people with any skin color, but it is the leading cause of melanoma in people with darker skin.

ALM is a type of melanoma that develops on the palms, soles, and the skin under the nails.

ALM sometimes develops from an existing mole, but it can also occur for no apparent reason on healthy skin.
An early sign might be an oddly shaped black, gray, tan, or brown mark with irregular borders.

When ALM begins in the nails, it may appear as a streak under the nail. Most cases of ALM on the nails occur on the big toe or thumb.

Read more about ALM

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles