On Rita Marley's Birthday, Daughter Cedella Says, 'She Was Like Yoko'

Rita Marley sings "One Draw" at the High Times Cannabis Cup in 1997 in Amsterdam,

After Bob Marley's tragic death in 1981, the responsibility of holding the family together fell on his wife Rita, originally known as Alfarita Anderson. She and Bob got married in 1966. They had three children - Cedella, Ziggy and Stephen - who later formed the Melody Makers.

July 25 is Rita's 75th birthday. Cedella tells Rolling Stone how difficult it was for her mother after Bob died from cancer: "With Daddy passing, she had to become very vocal. Certain people in the Rastafarian faith were saying, ‘No, no, no, let da man handle it.’ What man? There’s no man. The man is gone. And there’s no backup man. It’s the woman.”

In additon to being Bob's wife, Rita was a singer in the band. "It was important for her to be on the road with Daddy," Cedella says. "People go on the road and switch up real quick. You can leave humble and turn into a monster. I’ve seen it happen."

Cedella Marley on her mother: "So she was like Yoko. She didn’t try to keep [Bob] away from friends, but she was a protective force."

“She had to grow a very broad back to take on responsibilities she wasn’t prepared for," Cedella continues. "And that made a lot of people pissed when he passed, because they thought they were going to be the second in command.” 

Regarding the early days of managing the Marley estate, Cedella comments, "The people she trusted were condemning her, so it was a little confusing. She got through that. But it did take a heavy toll on her.”

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More recently, Rita has had to deal with physical maladies, such as a series of strokes. After moving to Ghana, she now resides in Florida close to family members. "I said to her, ‘You need to just relax now. The grave is not calling you, so I’m’a just make you chill,'" Cedella notes. "So that’s how we look at it.”

Rita has been medicating with functional mushrooms, which will soon be available from Marley One“We have one that is for the mind and cognitive stuff, and she takes it in the morning," Cedella reports. "We have another one to level off your mood. She sampled every single one. She was the taste tester. She’s very excited about Marley One, I must say.”


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.