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Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley [Paperback]

Timothy White
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 2 2006
The classic biography of reggae legend Bob Marley, updated and revised for the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death

Bob Marley left an indelible mark on modern music, both as a reggae pioneer and as an enduring cultural icon. Catch a Fire, now a classic of rock biography, delves into the life of the leader of a musical, spiritual, and political explosion that continues today.

Under the supervision of the author’s widow and with the collaboration of a Marley expert, this fourth edition contains a wealth of new material on the Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician , including many revisions made by the author before his untimely death. An appendix to the new edition chronicles Marley’s legacy in recent years, as well as the ongoing controversy over the possibility that Marley’s remains might be exhumed from Nine Mile, Jamaica, and reburied in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where hundreds of Rastafarians live. The new edition also contains an expanded discography and is factually updated throughout.

“Probably the finest biography ever written about a popular musician.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“As close as rock journalism comes to transcendent literature.”

“White has a deep appreciation for reggae’s immediacy, hypnotic power, and contradictions . . . An exhaustively researched labor of love.”
Chicago Sun-Times

Frequently Bought Together

Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley + No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley + Dear Dad: Where's the Family in our Family Today
Price For All Three: CDN$ 45.75

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Bob Marley, reggae superstar and pop culture icon, left an indelible mark on modern music. Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley delves deep into the life of the lionized leader of a musical, spiritual, and political explosion that still reverberates more than a decade after his death. Almost nothing pertaining to the life of Bob Marley is left out; the origins of Rastafarianism (the Ethiopian religion that was the keystone of his life), the roots of the reggae sound, the Jamaican political and social debacle that informed his lyrics--this is a comprehensive account of the life of the artist and the times that produced him.

Catch a Fire is assiduously researched; the details writer Timothy White presents of the King of Reggae's life are cinematic in scope and, at times, cumbersome. White includes much of his primary source material, ranging from full interviews with band members to unearthed CIA documents, and devotes a whole section to describing his exhaustive research process. The final product is rich with elements of spiritual tome, rock biography, and history text; it is a hagiographic epic--the story of a man and his legend. --Brendan J. LaSalle --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"Probably the finest biography ever written about a popular musician. "-Joel Selvin," San Francisco Chronicle --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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It was just before midnight, and the cheers from the distinguished audience were mingling with shouts of the ragged crowd climbing over the walls surrounding the Rufaro Stadium in Salisbury, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must read March 17 2004
Whether you are a Music lover or a Passionate historian like myself Mr. Marley is simply a fascinating individual. Born in poverty in one of the worst ghettos of Jamaica he found Music to be his passion, and through it he weaved Politics, history and love into a common mosaic. Marley's new style, his conversion to Rastafarianism, much to the surprise of Haile Sallaise when he visited Jamaica and was almost crushed by crowds, and his exporting of his music and values to America and Africa is an extraordinary story. From Marley's impassioned plea for feuding politicians Manley and Seaga to 'come together' as well as Marleys succesful tours of the States and his appearance at independence celebrations in Africa. This is the standard text on Marley and it covers everything from the intricate details of his musical breakthroughs, to the history of his religion and even the current affairs of Jamaica.
You will not be disappointed with this excellent, fast paced read which brings the story to a close with Marleys cancerous toe, discovered while playing Soccer in Central Park.
Seth J. Frantzman
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5.0 out of 5 stars QUASHIE - BLESSED CHILD BORN ON A SUNDAY Jan. 21 2004
I write to say as a stolen African whose Family made it through slavery WITH our last name in tact, it never ceases to amaze me how loving someones cling to ideas and structires constructed to keep them from re-constructing a prid ein themselves and acceptance of themselves as card-carrying members of the HUMAN (ONE) race. Not only was my Family's name, QUASHIE, bastardized predominanatly in Jamaica to mean fool, boy (condescending reference to an adult male of African Ancestry, but the QUASHIE Warriors mostly Farmers in Their free time, originally from Ghana were sent to Jamaica by the British for it was, for lack of a better way of putting this a holding pen for the unruly. It therefore come as no surprise that a land so rich in resources, is unable to rise and soar, since its masses are so content to keep their brains constipated by continually swallowing whatever band food, their lost souls have been, are being, and will probably go on being fed. By the way, We tend to have Black gums, did they tell You that means Our bites are poisonous. OH AND ALL OPF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS BORN ON SUNDAYS, ACCORDING TO YOU ARE IDIOTS. That should make for a great discussion over your next pepper pot. But wait, You probably dont remember how to cook that, do YOU?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good biography, ok writing Nov. 2 2003
By A Customer
I picked up this book because I'm a fan of Marley's music but I realized I never knew too much about the guy himself. I wasn't disappointed with the content. "Catch A Fire" takes you through Bob's early childhood into when he first started singing and recording, all the way through to his death, with great stories and details along the way.
In addition to a book about his life, this is also a book about Jamaica's history, rastafarianism, and reggae music. It goes into some depth on these three topics, putting Marley's life into historical perspective.
My gripe is that the writing in the book was only OK. For a topic that I was interested in reading about, the book did a poor job of holding my attention. However, I would recommend the book to a Bob fan, because it is filled with stories and anecdotes about Bob's life that I never knew about. I would not recommend this book to the casual Bob fan. You are probably better off just watching that documentary about him. I forget the name of it right now.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty good biography--with some reservations June 19 2003
In the 1960's at the confluence of the streams of Jamaican independence and the messianic Rastafarian religion, there came a once in a lifetime musical genius who was born, if not in a stable, then in similarly unpromising surroundingss in the mountains of the Jamaican hinterland.
This is a very detailed book that explains a great deal about Bob Marley's background and career. Now I can tell you what a "goverment yard in Trenchtown" (from the lyrics of No Woman, No Cry) means and I know what Duppy Conqueror means. I did not know these things before.
This is certainly not a fan biography, or even a hagiography. In fact Marley does not even come across as a particularly likeable or admirable person. Perhaps there is a reason for this. I have a couple of CDs that have interviews with Bob Marley. It seems to me that Marley was not particularly articulate in person, and that what he had to say was all said in his songs. The author had many interviews with Marley in his lifetime, but none of them seem to have been very profound.
There is something about the style of the author that I don't particularly like, a certain like of directness or reference points, if you like. In a way he admits this in appendixes in which he says that he really has no way of telling what parts of much of the material he was told in interviews is true--so he just quotes it all, and lets you decide for yourself.
In the end it seems to me that White piles up lots and lots of data, but we don't learn much about Bob Marley the man. Maybe in the end the Natural Mystic eludes all attemps to pin him down. But the book does give tons of background information that helps to understand his music, and even the particular events in Marley's life that inspired the lyrics of certain songs.
The book is definitely worth having, but the true essence of Bob Marley lies in his music, which, fortunately we can all still enjoy today.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book!
Published 1 month ago by |JT
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
I did some research when looking for a good bio of Bob Marley, this seemed like the most accurate and unbiased one. Read more
Published 21 months ago by ariel
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch A Fire
Catch a Fire was a great book. It helped me to better understand the culture of Rastafarians and the type of life which a Rastafarian lives. Read more
Published on May 31 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A book you won't want to put down
It's been some time since I read this book TWICE. First bumping into it at the library and then buying my own copy on-line... Read more
Published on May 28 2004 by Daniel Leibovitz
If your into Bob Marley this is a must have book. You will love this book and get hooked on it and won't want to stop reading it. Read more
Published on March 22 2004 by Ben Gonzalez a.k.a Rhino
3.0 out of 5 stars Not enough about 70s era Marley
I really enjoyed this book and thought it provided great insight into Bob's early life as well as Rastafari and Jamaican culture. Having said that, it seemed like Mr. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2002 by Matthew Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive book on Bob Marley
This book is the best biography on Bob Marley. It talks about his life and his rise to stardom. It also discusses the Rastafarian religion, and Ras Tafari (Haile Salassi). Read more
Published on July 11 2002 by Phil Silverware
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound investment
Bought this in college, read it again the early 90s, and it had hlf again as mch info. Last week I got the the John Adams book, and and I saw this ook again, I realized the author... Read more
Published on June 1 2002 by donnytail
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is too research-heavy
In my humble opinion, this book is for the Marley fan who wants to read a textbook or encyclopedia about Bob, rather than a novel. Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by Genesis
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