KINGSTON, Jamaica - He's received countless musical accolades, inspired millions with his message of "one love" and is even hailed as a prophet by some.
Now, members of Bob Marley
's estate are lobbying the government to proclaim the dreadlocked reggae singer a national hero, Jamaica's highest honor. Marley died of cancer in Miami in 1981 at 36, and some of his family members have lived in South Florida.
"Anywhere you go in the world the first thing people think of when they hear Jamaica is Bob Marley," said Jacqueline Knight-Campbell, who is organizing the campaign for the Bob Marley Foundation. "He has inspired so many people with his songs so it's time for us to step up and take Bob's recognition to a higher level."
The foundation is also seeking to have his birthday — Feb. 6 — declared a national holiday. The group is planning special celebrations, including a concert and a block party in the capital of Kingston, to mark his 60th birthday next year.
Only seven Jamaicans have been named national heroes, including black civil rights leader Marcus Garvey and former Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.
Past efforts to bestow Marley with the honor have failed, but support has grown in recent years as Marley's music enjoys a resurgence worldwide. The BBC recently named his "One Love" song the anthem of the century, and Time magazine called 1977's "Exodus" the album of the century.
Born in rural St. Ann parish in 1945, Marley rose from the gritty shantytowns of Kingston to global stardom in the 1970s with hits like "No Woman, No Cry" and "I Shot the Sheriff."
Marley was awarded Jamaica's third highest honor, the Order of Merit, in 1981, one month before he died.