Ziggy Marley: What My Dad Taught Me About Guitar

This past February 6, 2015, Bob Marley would have been 70 years old.
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This past February 6, 2015, Bob Marley would have been 70 years old. The Jamaican reggae legend passed away from cancer on May 11, 1981, and Jamaica held a series of anniversary celebrations this year to honor the musician. His son, Ziggy, continues to evolve the Marley family legacy with his own albums (the latest being Fly Rasta on Tuff Gong Worldwide), comic books (2011’s Marijuanaman), children’s books (2014’s I Love You Too), and a line of food products through Ziggy Marley Organics.

How did your father influence you as a guitarist?

What I take from him is that you must love your guitar. It must live with you, and be around you all the time. It must be a part of you. His guitar was always around.

Did you develop any of your own concepts about tone or technique from him?

Yeah. I emulate his own style of playing rhythm guitar—which is very meaty and chunky. It was heavy. What I like about his tone is it had more body and more grit than any other rhythm guitarists that I’d heard. The form of the way he played, it was not like from the wrist—it was almost his whole hand. There was a lot of attack there.

Was he someone who was super concerned about guitar gear?

He worked with Family Man [Wailers bassist Aston Barrett] to get the tone. Those guys worked it all out together to get what he liked. Tone was very important to him, but he really wasn’t into effects or nothing like that. It was just the tone from the Fender Twin Reverb amplifier and his guitar. He would get the treble and the mids and the bass at the right place, and that’s it really. He wasn’t a gear head or nothing like that.

Is it difficult to focus on music with so much going on in your life—the family business, the books, the organic food company, and so on?

No. Everything is connected. Just living life, experiencing life with my kids, going out and doing things—it helps the music and everything I do. You meet new people and interact with different types of people—whether it’s music or the books or my food thing—and everything opens my mind. These different experiences help me grow as a person, and that helps my music to grow, because it’s all about life. My music is life.

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