David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley (born 17 October 1968) is a Jamaican musician and philanthropist. He is the son of reggae icon Bob Marley and Rita Marley. He led the family band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, with whom he released eight studio albums. He has also released seven solo albums.
In the earliest known record of his musical career, David Marley performed as part of a singing group called The Seven Do Bees, made up of him and his classmates, and wherein he was given the stage name “Freddie Dic”. The name never stuck, however, and instead, David went on to become known as “Ziggy”, a nickname often reported to have been given to him by his father Bob Marley, meaning “little spliff”. However, Ziggy stated the following to Melody Maker magazine in 1988: “Me name David but me big Bowie fan. So at the time of the Ziggy Stardust album, me call meself Ziggy and now everyone do.”
During the late 1970s, Ziggy could also be seen alongside his brother Stephen at some of their father’s larger concerts around Jamaica and abroad. In 1978, the duo appeared on stage at the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, and the following year at Reggae Sunsplash II in Montego Bay.
In 1979, Ziggy and his siblings Sharon, Cedella and Stephen formed the Melody Makers (named after the British weekly pop/rock music newspaper, Melody Maker) and made their recording debut with “Children Playing in the Streets”. The track was written for them by their father, who had composed the song for them four years earlier. All royalties from the single were pledged to the United Nations, to aid its efforts during the International Year of the Child. The Melody Makers made their onstage debut as a group on 23 September 1979, performing on the same bill as their father for the first and only time at the “Roots Rock Reggae” two-day concert series in Kingston’s National Arena. Ziggy was 11 years old at the time. Notable other early moments in Ziggy’s musical history include a performance with Stephen at their father’s funeral in 1981, and later that year the Melody Makers released their second single, “What A Plot”, under the family’s Tuff Gong record label. The Melody Makers recorded an unreleased album titled Children Playing in 1979.
After Bob Marley’s death in 1981, Ziggy began performing in his place alongside the Wailers at various shows around Jamaica, and in 1984 the group went on tour in support of the year’s Bob Marley Legend compilation album release. The Melody Makers’ first fully released album was Play the Game Right in 1985. Their 1988 album Conscious Party was a major worldwide hit and received a Grammy Award. The group disbanded in 2002.
After the Melody Makers disbanded, Ziggy Marley launched a solo career. His debut solo album, Dragonfly, was released in April 2003. The album featured the single “True To Myself”. The track “Rainbow in the Sky” features both Flea and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while “Melancholy Mood” features only Flea. In July 2006, his second solo album, Love Is My Religion, was released on his independent record label Tuff Gong Worldwide. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album, making it Marley’s 4th Grammy win.
Marley performed a duet with Donna Summer for her 2008 album Crayons. In May 2009, his third solo album Family Time was released on Tuff Gong Worldwide. Family Time was presented as a children’s album and features family and friends: Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Judah Marley, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Toots Hibbert, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell, and more. This album won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children. In June 2011, Marley released his fourth album Wild and Free. The title track, featuring Woody Harrelson, was available for free with the pre-order of Ziggy’s first comic book, Marijuanaman.
In 2013 Marley’s song “I Love You Too” won him a Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Original Song – Children’s and Animation category after it was used in the Disney Channel animation 3rd & Bird. Ziggy released the children’s book, I Love You Too, based on the song and illustrated by Agnieszka Jatkowska. In April 2014, Ziggy Marley released his fifth solo studio album, entitled Fly Rasta. Fly Rasta won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album at the 57th Grammy Awards. Marley later announced his sixth solo album Ziggy Marley to be released spring 2016.
In May 2018, Marley released his most recent studio album, Rebellion Rises, through Tuff Gong Worldwide. The album received rave reviews upon release. Cryptic Rock gave the album 5 out of 5 stars, stating “Politically and socially relevant, Rebellion Rises is a war of music, creating peace with a purpose.”Island Stage called the album”a 10-track masterpiece that continues his father’s tradition of promoting emancipation from mental slavery through education, social activism, and healthy living.”Reggaeville said the album “is not an angry record. It is not a bitter record. But, it is not a record of hope, either. The time of hoping for change is a notion Marley considers past due. This is a record of action, and for Ziggy Marley, the time for action is now.”
Ziggy Marley is the eldest son of Bob Marley and Rita Marley. His brothers are Stephen Marley, Julian Marley, Ky-mani Marley, Robert Nesta Marley, Jr, Rohan Marley, and Damian Marley. His sisters are Sharon Marley, Cedella Marley, Karen Marley, Stephanie Marley, and Makeda Marley.
Ziggy has two children from a relationship with Lorraine Bogle: a son, Bambaata (b. 1989), and a daughter, Justice (b, 1991). From a relationship with Carlene Samuels, he has a daughter named Zuri (b. 1995).
He is married to Orly Agai, an Israeli of Iranian-Jewish descent, who is a former vice-president of William Morris Agency. The couple has four children; one daughter, Judah Victoria, and three sons, Gideon Robert Nesta, Abraham Selassie Robert Nesta, and Isaiah Sion Robert Nesta. He received The George and Ira Gershwin Award from UCLA during UCLA Spring Sing on May 19, 2017.
Marley founded Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (URGE), which works to help children (especially in Jamaica and Ethiopia). In 2007, Marley signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and free lessons to children in public schools throughout the United States. He has visited with children in the program and sits on the organization’s board of directors as an honorary member.