May 11, 1981
Reggae star Bob Marley dies at 36
In what would prove to be the next to the last concert of his tragically short life, Bob Marley shared the bill at Madison Square Garden with the hugely popular American funk band The Commodores. With no costumes, no choreography and no set design to speak of, “The reggae star had the majority of his listeners on their feet and in the palm of his hand,” according to New York Times critic Robert Palmer. “After this show of strength, and Mr. Marley’s intense singing and electric stage presence, the Commodores were a letdown.” Only days after his triumphant shows in New York City, Bob Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park and later received a grim diagnosis: a cancerous growth on an old soccer injury on his big toe had metastasized and spread to Marley’s brain, liver and lungs. Less than eight months later, on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley, the soul and international face of reggae music, died in a Miami, Florida, hospital. He was only 36 years old.