True to himself

Ziggy Marley brings his authentic reggae sunsplash to Israel.

Ziggy Marley (photo credit: GREGORY BOJORQUES)
Ziggy Marley
(photo credit: GREGORY BOJORQUES)
It’s difficult to comprehend that, at age 49, Ziggy Marley is 13 years older than his famed father, Bob, was when he died in 1981.
The elder Marley almost single-handedly brought reggae music from Jamaica to the rest of the world, as he became the global symbol of fist-waving, ganjasmoking Rastafarian freedom.
Born David, Ziggy has claimed that he gave himself the Ziggy nickname after the David Bowie persona “Ziggy Stardust,” but other biographers say Marley’s dad gave him the nickname.
Soon after his father’s death, while still a teen, Ziggy began performing with his father’s legendary band The Wailers, and in the 1980s established himself as the heir apparent to the reggae crown.
The physical similarities were eerie and the musical talent, passed down a generation, was clearly evident.
Many of Marley’s children, including, Steven, Julian, Damien and Ky-Mani Marley, have chosen musical careers, but Ziggy, although never arriving at the legend status of his father, has been the most successful and truest to roots reggae vision.
Ziggy has released 18 albums, some with his family band, the Melody Makers, and some solo, on the way to winning five Grammy Awards. His biggest hits include “True to Myself,” “Love is My Religion” and “Tomorrow People.”
He’s been known to perform some of his father’s best-known songs, including “Redemption Song,” “Stir it Up,” “Get Up Stand Up” and “No Woman No Cry.”
Marley is married to an Israeli, Orly Agai, and the couple has four children, who have been raised in both the Jewish and Rastafarian traditions. Clearly feeling comfortable in the Jewish state, he is making his third professional visit here, with shows coming up at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv on July 31 and the Zappa Shuni Amphitheater in Binyamina on August 1.
In 2015, Marley was honored by the Jewish National Fund with a Shalom Peace Award, and spoke kindly of Israel: “I’ve been connected to Israel from when I was a child,” he said. “I feel a very spiritual and personal connection to that land and the people of that land. So this is our blessing, and we will continue to have that connection no matter what anybody says or does, and continue to support Israel.”
Reggae has become somewhat marginalized since the days of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Toots and the Maytals. But Ziggy Marley is one sure bet to create an authentic reggae sunsplash, whether appearing in a Tel Aviv club or outdoors under the stars.
Amy Spiro contributed to this report.