Pop Life

The White Album: How Bob Marley's Legend Became a Blockbuster in Death

Story by Chris Kornelis.

At the time of his death, in May 1981, Bob Marley was 36 years old, reggae's biggest star, and the father of at least 11 children. He was not, however, a big seller.

For Dave Robinson, this presented an opportunity.

Two years after Marley's passing, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Marley's label, Island Records, brought Robinson in to run his U.K. operation. Robinson's first assignment was to put out a compilation of Bob Marley's hits. He took one look at the artist's sales figures and was shocked.

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