Ziggy Marley

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Ziggy Marley
Ziggy Marley Guilfest 2011.jpg
Marley performing in 2011
David Nesta Marley

(1968-10-17) 17 October 1968 (age 53)
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
  • music producer
  • voice actor
Years active1979–present
Spouse(s)Orly Agai
Children7, including Bambaata Marley
Parent(s)Bob Marley (father)
Rita Marley (mother)
RelativesSharon Marley (sister)
Cedella Marley (sister)
Stephen Marley (brother)
Rohan Marley (half-brother)
Julian Marley (half-brother)
Ky-Mani Marley (half-brother)
Damian Marley (half-brother)
Robert Marley (half-brother)
Nico Marley (nephew)
Cedella Booker (grandmother)
Skip Marley (nephew)
Jo Mersa Marley (nephew)
Selah Marley (niece)
Musical career
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, percussion, piano
LabelsTuff Gong Worldwide, Virgin, EMI Records, Elektra Records

David Nesta "Ziggy" Marley (born 17 October 1968) is a Jamaican musician and philanthropist. He is the son of reggae icon Bob Marley and Rita Marley. He led the family band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers until 2002, with whom he released eight studio albums. After the disbandment, Ziggy launched a successful solo career by having released eight solo studio albums on his own record company, Tuff Gong Worldwide. Ziggy continues his father’s heritage to record and self-release all of his music. Marley is an eight-time Grammy Award winner and a Daytime Emmy Award recipient.

Early life[edit]

David Nesta Marley was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on October 17, 1968.[1] He grew up in Trenchtown, a poor neighborhood of Kingston, and in Wilmington, Delaware, where he attended elementary school for a few years. [2] Ziggy grew up very active, playing soccer and running the mountains, a lifestyle passed on from his parents. [3] As the oldest son of Bob Marley and Rita, Ziggy grew up surrounded by music from an early age. He received guitar and drum lessons from his father and began sitting in on Wailers recording sessions by the age of ten. [4]


1979-1984 Family beginnings[edit]

In the earliest known record of his musical career, David Marley performed as part of a singing group called The Seven Do Bees, made up of him and his classmates, and wherein he was given the stage name "Freddie Dic". The name never stuck, however, and instead, David went on to become known as "Ziggy", a nickname often reported to have been given to him by his father Bob Marley, meaning "little spliff". However, Ziggy stated the following to Melody Maker magazine in 1988: "Me name David but me big Bowie fan. So at the time of the Ziggy Stardust album, me call meself Ziggy and now everyone do."[5]

During the late 1970s, Ziggy could also be seen alongside his brother Stephen at some of their father's larger concerts around Jamaica and abroad. In 1978, the duo appeared on stage at the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston,[6] and the following year at Reggae Sunsplash II in Montego Bay.[7]

1985-2002 Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers[edit]

In 1979, Ziggy and his siblings Sharon, Cedella and Stephen formed the Melody Makers (named after the British weekly pop/rock music newspaper, Melody Maker) and made their recording debut with "Children Playing in the Streets". The track was written for them by their father, who had composed the song for them four years earlier. All royalties from the single were pledged to the United Nations, to aid its efforts during the International Year of the Child.[8]

The Melody Makers made their onstage debut as a group on 23 September 1979, performing on the same bill as their father for the first and only time at the "Roots Rock Reggae" two-day concert series in Kingston's National Arena.[9] Ziggy was 11 years old at the time. Notable other early moments in Ziggy's musical history include a performance with Stephen at their father's funeral in 1981, and later that year the Melody Makers released their second single, "What A Plot", under the family's Tuff Gong record label.[10] The Melody Makers recorded an unreleased album titled Children Playing in 1979.

After Bob Marley's death in 1981, Ziggy began performing in his place alongside the Wailers at various shows around Jamaica,[11] and in 1984 the group went on tour in support of the year's Bob Marley Legend compilation album release.[12] The Melody Makers' first fully released album was Play the Game Right in 1985.[13] Their 1988 album Conscious Party was a major worldwide hit and received a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.[14] Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers won three Grammy Awards and five nominations in total before disbanding in 2002. [15]

2003-2006 Dragonfly/Solo Career beginning[edit]

After the Melody Makers disbanded, Ziggy Marley launched a solo career. His debut solo album, Dragonfly, was released in April 2003. The album featured the single "True To Myself," which remains one of his biggest hits. The track "Rainbow in the Sky" features both Flea and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while "Melancholy Mood" features only Flea.[16]

2006-present Tuff Gong Worldwide (independent artist)[edit]

In July 2006, his second solo album, Love Is My Religion, was released on his independent record label Tuff Gong Worldwide. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album,[17] making it Marley's 4th Grammy win.[14] He also performs the theme song for children's animated show Arthur.[18]

Marley performed a duet with Donna Summer for her 2008 album Crayons.[19] In May 2009, his third solo album Family Time, was released on Tuff Gong Worldwide. Family Time was presented as a children's album and features family and friends: Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Judah Marley, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Toots Hibbert, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell, and more. This album won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children.[20] In June 2011, Marley released his fourth album Wild and Free. The title track, featuring Woody Harrelson, was available for free with the pre-order of Ziggy's first comic book, Marijuanaman.[21]

In 2013 Marley's song "I Love You Too" won him a Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Original Song – Children's and Animation category, after it was used in the Cbeebies animation 3rd & Bird.[22] Ziggy released the children's book, I Love You Too, based on the song and illustrated by Agnieszka Jatkowska.[23] In April 2014, Ziggy Marley released his fifth solo studio album, entitled Fly Rasta.[24] Fly Rasta won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album at the 57th Grammy Awards. Marley later announced his sixth solo album Ziggy Marley to be released spring 2016.[25]

In May 2018, Marley released his most recent studio album, Rebellion Rises, through Tuff Gong Worldwide.[26] The album received rave reviews upon release. Cryptic Rock gave the album 5 out of 5 stars, stating "Politically and socially relevant, Rebellion Rises is a war of music, creating peace with a purpose.".[27] Island Stage called the album "a 10-track masterpiece that continues his father’s tradition of promoting emancipation from mental slavery through education, social activism, and healthy living."[28] Reggaeville said the album "is not an angry record. It is not a bitter record. But, it is not a record of hope, either. The time of hoping for change is a notion Marley considers past due. This is a record of action, and for Ziggy Marley, the time for action is now."[29]

Personal life[edit]

Marley brothers in 1997

Ziggy Marley is the eldest son of Bob Marley and Rita Marley. His brothers are Stephen Marley, Julian Marley, Ky-mani Marley, Robert Nesta Marley, Jr, Rohan Marley and Damian Marley. His sisters are Sharon Marley, Cedella Marley, Karen Marley, Stephanie Marley and Makeda Marley.

Ziggy has three children from previous relationships: a son, Bambaata (b. 1989), a daughter, Justice (b. 1991), and a daughter named Zuri (b. 1995).[30]

He is married to Orly Agai, an Israeli of Iranian-Jewish descent,[31][32] who is a former vice-president of William Morris Agency. The couple has four children; one daughter, Judah Victoria, and three sons, Gideon Robert Nesta, Abraham Selassie Robert Nesta, and Isaiah Sion Robert Nesta. He received The George and Ira Gershwin Award from UCLA during UCLA Spring Sing on May 19, 2017.[33]


Marley founded Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (URGE), which works to help children (especially in Jamaica and Ethiopia).[34] In 2007, Marley signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and free lessons to children in public schools throughout the United States. He has visited with children in the program and sits on the organization's board of directors as an honorary member.[35]

Other work[edit]

In 1991, Marley and the Melody Makers contributed the song "Give A Little Love" to the Disney album, For Our Children. The album is a collection of kid-friendly songs by popular artists (e.g. Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Elton John), with proceeds given to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Marley made guest appearances as himself on an episode of the sitcom Family Matters in 1995, and on the television series Charmed in season 6 (episode 13, "The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell"), performing "Rainbow in the Sky".

He and his Melody Makers made a guest appearance on the popular kids television show Sesame Street in the 1991–92 season, and sang a Sesame Street version of "Small People" from their 1991 album Jahmekya

In 1996, Marley and the Melody Makers recorded the reggae-style theme song for the children's television series Arthur called "Believe in Yourself".

He voiced Ernie, one of Sykes' (Martin Scorsese) Rasta jellyfish henchmen in the 2004 film Shark Tale. In the film when Oscar (Will Smith) tries to sing the Bob Marley song "Three Little Birds", Marley's character zaps Oscar on the head and says "That's not the way you sing that song, mon." The title song for the film was a cover version of "Three Little Birds" performed by Marley and Sean Paul.

Further voice acting includes "Crockadle" on an episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey, the Cheshire Cat in a 2010 episode of Wonder Pets, and Reflux the Knaaren in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, although he was not credited in the latter.

Marley covered "Drive" by The Cars for the Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates opting to use his live band for the recording (Carlton "Santa" Davis- drums, Pablo Stennett - bass, Mikey Hyde - keyboards, Takeshi Akimoto - guitar, Tracy Hazzard - background vocals, Angel Roché Jr. - percussion), and his father's song "Three Little Birds" for the Dora the Explorer soundtrack.

Ziggy is listed as the featured artist on Donna Summer's song, "Crayons," the title track from her 2008 album. He has also performed duets with Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Dora the Explorer, Taj Mahal, The Chieftains, Sean Paul and others.

Marley and his daughter Judah made an appearance in the 2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Marley appeared in the 2011 documentary “Reggae Got Soul: The Story of Toots and the Maytals” which was featured on BBC and described as “The untold story of one of the most influential artists ever to come out of Jamaica”.[36][37]

In 2011, Marley recorded the featured single for the film Beat the World, entitled "Express Yourself" featuring Nneka.

Ziggy Marley released "A Fire Burns for Freedom", a pro-marijuana song in support of the 2010 California Proposition 19 ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.[38] Voters rejected the ballot initiative, but legalization ultimately occurred with the 2016 Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

He performed in an episode of Sesame Street, playing his well-known song "Set Your Piggies Free", which encourages children to take off their shoes and socks and to explore nature with bare feet. The video involves many celebrities with their children, singing along. The main message of the video, however, is to just "Go Barefoot and Wiggle Those Toes!".

He also appeared on Counting Cars on the History channel. It premiered in June 2013; In the episode, he meets Danny at Vamped to commission a restoration on his father, Bob Marley's, vintage Mercedes.

He also sang with Cody Simpson in his song "Love".

Ziggy Marley produced an unreleased EP for LOONER (band). An indie rock act belonging to his longtime percussionist Angel Roché Jr. Ziggy co-wrote the song "Home" with them, it was released in 2014 on Avian Recording Company. The song can be heard on Season 3 of the WIGS (web channel) series Blue (web series) starring Julia Stiles.

In 2016, he appeared in the TV series Hawaii Five-0 (season 6) Episode 16.

Marley was featured in the song "Life Is A Honeymoon" with Florida Georgia Line, a popular single off of FGL's third studio album Dig Your Roots, which was released in August 2016.


Albums with the Melody Makers (1985-2001)[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • 2008: Love Is My Religion Live
  • 2009: Ziggy Live From Soho
  • 2013: Ziggy Marley in Concert
  • 2017: We are the People Tour


Grammy Awards[edit]

Ziggy has won eight awards from fifteen nominations.[39]

Year Awardee Category Result
1982 Reggae Sunsplash '81, A Tribute To Bob Marley Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording Nominated
1985 Play the Game Right Best Reggae Recording Nominated
1988 Conscious Party Best Reggae Recording Won
1989 One Bright Day Best Reggae Recording Won
1991 Jahmekya Best Reggae Album Nominated
1993 Joy and Blues Best Reggae Album Nominated
1995 Free Like We Want 2 B Best Reggae Album Nominated
1997 Fallen Is Babylon Best Reggae Album Won
2006 Love Is My Religion Best Reggae Album Won
2009 Family Time Best Musical Album for Children Won
2011 Wild and Free Best Reggae Album Nominated
2013 Ziggy Marley in Concert Best Reggae Album Won
2014 Fly Rasta Best Reggae Album Won
2016 Ziggy Marley (album) Best Reggae Album Won
2018 Rebellion Rises Best Reggae Album Nominated

Other awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category
2013 Daytime Emmy Awards
  • Outstanding Original Song - Children's and Animation - 3rd & Bird (2008) - For song "I Love You Too"[40]
2014 CLIO Awards
  • “Making of Legend Remixed: The Documentary”: Hyundai / UME / Tuff Gong - Brand Collaborations - Integrated Campaign (Bronze)
  • Music partnerships/collaborations for “Making of Three Little Birds Remix” (Shortlist)
  • Documentary Film, Executive Producer[41]
IRAWMA (International Reggae And World Music Awards)
2017 UCLA George and Ira Gershwin Award
  • Lifetime Musical Achievement[43]
2021 IRAWMA (International Reggae And World Music Awards)
  • 2021 Inductee Hall of Fame/ Lifetime Achievement[44]
Medgar Evers College
  • Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts[45]


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  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  41. ^ "Clios Awards". clios.com. 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  42. ^ "IRAWMA". dancehallusa.com. 12 October 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
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  44. ^ "IRAWMA Awards". grungecake.com. 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  45. ^ "Medgar Evers College Honorary Doctorate". urbanislandz.com. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2022.

External links[edit]