Today we mark what would have been the 62nd birthday of Robert Nesta Marley. Bob Marley died shortly after his 36th birthday, but more than 25 years after his death, his music is played and he is recalled as one of the premiere reggae musicians and a fellow who helped bring Rastafarianism to the people.
Music historians know that reggae—"a popular music that combines native Jamaican styles with elements of rock and soul music and that is performed at moderate tempos with the accent on the offbeat"—originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. Lexicographers, however, know a great deal less about the origin of that name.
Theories abound: Supposedly, streggae was a Jamaican term for a poorly dressed or slatternly type, and reggae comes from that. Or try this: the Jamaican music took its name from the Regga, a Bantu-speaking people in eastern Africa. Our final (unsubstantiated) theory traces reggae to the Toots and the Maytals 1968 hit Do the Reggay, but according to Frederick (Toots) Hibbert, the word reggay had been around before he used it.
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