KINGSTONE – Tall, imperious and imposing, especially on horseback, Captain Norval Sinclair Marley roamed the plantations of Jamaica bedding many of the teenage daughters of the estate workers he was supposed to oversee.
According to local gossip, he seems to have been a British naval captain who came from Essex and had once served in India, but he ended up working for the British colonial service in the Jamaican backwoods in the 40s.
By then, Marley was at least 50 years old, yet his brief liaisons resulted in a number of children. And one of his lovers was 18-year-old gospel singer Cedella Booker.
Their son, Robert Nesta Marley, was born in 1945 and spent his formative years living in considerable poverty in the slums of Jamaica.
He might have lived out his life in utter obscurity were it not for his musical talent which would propel him to super-stardom as Bob Marley, the King of Reggae, one of the biggest record industry earners of all time. Today, more than 30 years after his death, his estate is worth an incredible $1 billion.
The extraordinary story of how the dreadlocked musician rose from such obscurity to become one of the demi-gods of popular music from the 70sto the present day is the subject of a fascinating new documentary film which, for the first time, spells out the truth about his ancestry.
When he was growing up, Marley looked so different from his black family that he was often known as “the German”, because in contrast to them he looked somewhat European. Feeling an outsider in both the black and white communities, his isolation became the driving force behind his will to succeed.
Now, for the first time, filmmaker Kevin Macdonald has put a face to Marley’s philandering father.
He can be seen in a photograph out in the fields, on horseback as usual, ready to throw his weight around with the workers.