Nicknamed for a Marijuana Cigarette
When the great reggae king, Bob Marley, died of cancer in 1981, his son, David Nesta Marley, born in 1968, was only 12 years old. His father had nicknamed his son "Ziggy," a term for a marijuana cigarette, which Bob smoked several times daily. The nickname stuck as Ziggy has performed around the world using that moniker.
Ziggy often talks about his father and his days of growing up on the island with the other Marleys. His fondest memories of Jamaica are going to a fishing village of Rasta people and buying the catch of the day, then roasting the fish right on the beach before going later for a swim. "I can still feel the presence of my father whenever I return to my native roots in Jamaica," Ziggy said. "He was very social and open to meet and talk with people, and a community formed around him."
The oldest son of Rita and Bob Marley, Ziggy has pursued a solo career and is the most famous of the Marley clan today. At press time, his album, The Latest Word, was set to be released in the June 2010.
Ziggy made his singing debut, along with his siblings, in 1979. The group of Marleys later came to be known as the Melody Makers. Their saddest moment was when they played at their father's funeral.
Ziggy is loved and admired by reggae-loving Jamaicans, although no one ever accused him of having the star power of his father. Ziggy also has some harsh critics, including writer Daniel Patterson.
"If Bob Marley hadn't existed, there would be no Ziggy," Patterson claimed. "He rode to fame on his father's long coattails. He isn't talented enough to make it on his own. There are dozens of reggae singers in Jamaica better than Ziggy Marley. More than his singing, I admire his political activism, especially his concern for ghetto youths."
"I loved the music of Bob Marley," said fan Sonja Nesta. "But he's not around anymore. So today I listen to Ziggy. There is something of his father in his sound, even in his looks. I love his music even if I don't love it as much as his father's. It's hard for an offspring of a famous music-maker to follow in his footsteps, especially if that father was a legend. In America, Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli, never had the magic her mother did. But she went on and had a successful career in spite of that. In Jamaica, Ziggy is doing the same. Of course, he's no Bob Marley. No one can replace 'the King,' just as in the States a thousand impersonators never really replaced Elvis."
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