More Than Just Bob Marleys Wife : The Enduring Love Story of Rita Marley, Cuban Queen of Reggae

More Than Just Bob Marleys  Wife : The Enduring Love Story of Rita Marley, Cuban Queen of Reggae

Rita Marley, born July 25, 1946 in Santiago de Cuba and raised in Trenchtown, Kingston, Jamaica, has left an indelible mark on the world of music and culture. As a founding member of the Soulettes and later as a member of Bob Marley & the Wailers, Rita's talent and contributions have been instrumental in shaping the reggae genre and spreading the message of love and unity.

Rita's musical journey began with the Soulettes, a group she formed with her cousin Constantine Walker and Marlene Gifford. The Soulettes released several recordings, including rocksteady hits like "Time for Everything" and "Turn Turn Turn." These early songs showcased Rita's soulful vocals and laid the foundation for her future success.

It was during this time that Rita crossed paths with Bob Marley, who would become her husband and musical collaborator. After recording for Studio One and being mentored by Bob, Rita married him in 1966. Bob's temporary absence from the band led to Rita stepping in as a member of the Wailers, recording soulful and rocksteady tracks alongside Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh.

February 10 2024 marks 58 years of the marriage Bob Marley had in his life with Alpharita Constancia, better known as Rita Marley, singer originally from the island of Cuba.

The marriage took place at Rita's family home on February 10, 1966, in Kingston.. She was 19 and Bob, two years older.

At that time, he occupied his time as a guitarist, but it wouldn't take long to become an artist of international size, a situation that changed his relationship.

In 1968, Rita and Bob Marley signed exclusive contracts with JAD label, owned by American singer Johnny Nash and his manager Danny Sims. These contracts provided them with an opportunity to record in Kingston and marked a significant milestone in their careers. Rita's vocals graced a series of rocksteady recordings, including the iconic "Bend Down Low" and "Mellow Mood."

Following the birth of their son Ziggy Marley, Bob returned to Delaware to work in a factory, while Bunny Wailer rejoined the Wailers. Rita did not record with Bob until 1974 when he formed the I Three harmony vocal group, which included Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Together, they recorded the album "Natty Dread," which propelled Bob Marley & the Wailers to international stardom with the timeless track "No Woman No Cry."

However, tragedy struck in 1976 when Rita, Bob, and their manager Don Taylor were attacked in their home. Rita survived a gunshot to the head, and Bob played a historic concert just days later, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to their music and message.

In addition to her musical endeavors, Rita Marley has made significant contributions to the Jamaican music and cultural landscape. She purchased Ken Khouri's Federal Records recording studio, which later became the renowned Tuff Gong studio. Today, it stands as one of the largest Caribbean studios and attracts artists and tourists from around the world.

Rita's passion for preserving Bob Marley's legacy led her to convert their home into the Bob Marley Museum in 1986. She is also the founder and chairperson of the Robert Marley Foundation, Bob Marley Trust, and the Bob Marley Group of Companies, ensuring that his music and message continue to inspire generations.

Beyond her musical and cultural contributions, Rita Marley is a philanthropist. In 2000, she established the Rita Marley Foundation, which aims to alleviate poverty and hunger in developing countries. The foundation has provided scholarships to music students in Ghana and has supported the Konkonuru Methodist School, assisting over 200 children.

Rita Marley's impact has not gone unnoticed. She has received numerous accolades, including the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government for her contributions to Jamaican music and culture. In 2010, she was honored with the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2019, she was awarded the Order of Jamaica.

Despite facing health challenges in recent years, Rita Marley remains an iconic figure in the reggae world. Her resilience and dedication to spreading love and unity through music continue to inspire countless individuals worldwide. As she was honored with the Jamaican Consulate General's Lifetime Achievement Award and recognized by the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, Rita's legacy as a musical pioneer and philanthropist shines brightly.

For more information about Rita Marley and other fascinating stories about Jamaican culture, visit, a platform dedicated to celebrating the rich heritage and vibrant spirit of Jamaica.

Rita has six children, three with Bob and three from other relationships. Bob adopted Rita's two other children as his own and they have the Marley name. Rita's children are, in order of birth:

  1. Sharon Marley, born 23 November 1964 (daughter of Rita from a previous relationship but then adopted by Marley after his marriage with Rita)
  2. Cedella Marley born 23 August 1967
  3. "Ziggy Marley" (David Nesta Marley), born 17 October 1968
  4. Stephen Marley, born 20 April 1972
  5. Stephanie Marley, born 17 August 1974 (from an extramarital affair with Owen “Ital Tacky” Stewart, a former Jamaican soccer player) Bob adopted her as one of his own, giving her official recognition as one of his children, thereby entitling her to his estate.
  6. Serita Stewart, born 11 August 1985 (born after Bob's passing to Owen “Ital Tacky” Stewart, Stephanie's biological father)