Bob Marley’s grandson Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Marley dies at 31 in Florida
Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley, a reggae singer-songwriter and grandson of Bob Marley, was found dead in Miami-Dade County on Dec. 26, according to reports.
A Marley representative confirmed his death to Rolling Stone on Tuesday. Marley was 31.
Marley’s death was first reported by Jamaican broadcast journalist Abka Fitz-Henley, who said Marley had been found unresponsive inside a vehicle. An official cause of death has not been released.
Marley will headline the inaugural, three-day festival in Long Beach with his brothers. He spoke to The Times about preserving his father’s message through music.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Jo Mersa Marley, the son of Stephen Marley, was one of many in the family to follow Bob Marley’s path as a musical artist. Growing up, Marley performed with his family’s band, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, joining them onstage as a toddler. Ziggy Marley is his uncle.
While still a teenager and after having moved to Miami, Jo Mersa Marley released his first single, dancehall track “My Girl,” with his cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley, Ziggy Marley’s son.
His first solo album, “Comfortable,” was released in 2014. In 2019, Jo Mersa Marley, alongside his brother, Yohan Marley, dropped perhaps his most memorable single, political anthem “Burn It Down,” with a rousing, contagious hook.
“I am one of the new generation of Marleys, but I am still experimenting at the same time,” Marley told Rolling Stone in 2014 shortly after the release of his first album. “My plan is to do something new with my roots.”
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Ali Campbell, an English musical artist and former lead man of reggae band UB40, spent time with Marley while on a recent U.S. tour. Campbell said he was “absolutely shocked to the core” by the death of Marley, whom he called “a delightful young man” and “a real Marley to the core.”
Jamaican politician Mark Golding also commented on Marley’s death. “I’ve just learned of the tragic loss of Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Marley,” said the opposition leader and president of the People’s National Party. “The loss of a child is a devastating blow no parent should face, my condolences to Stephen & the entire family.”
Olivia Grange, a member of Jamaica’s Parliament and minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, said she was “deeply saddened” by the news of Marley’s death, calling it “a huge loss to the music as we look to the next generation.”
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She shared a video of Marley performing in May at a 60th-anniversary celebration of Jamaica’s independence in Miramar, Fla.
“As a young individual and still an upcoming and aspiring artist, I want to pay my respects to the legends in our circle,” Marley said to the audience, pointing to other artists who had joined him onstage.
“If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future,” Marley said, before launching into a cover of “One Love.”
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