David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley (born October 17, 1968, Trenchtown, Jamaica) is a four-time Grammy-winning Jamaican musician and leader of the band Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers. He is the oldest son of Rita and Bob Marley, the roots Reggae singer.
There are many theories and myths about where his nickname, “Ziggy”, originated. The word from Ziggy himself is that he simply is not sure. Possibly, it is related to his zeal on the football field where he “zig-zagged” around so much.
In 1979, Ziggy and his siblings, Cedella, Stephen, Damian, and Sharon made their recording debut with their father, “Children Playing in the Streets”. The Melody Makers, as the group came to be known, played occasionally for several years, including at their father’s funeral in 1981. Their debut LP was Play the Game Right, which was a very pop-oriented album, earning Ziggy some derision from critics. The band’s label, EMI, wanted to market Ziggy as a solo act, and so the Melody Makers moved to Virgin Records, where they recorded Conscious Party (1988, produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth). The album was critically and popularly successful, as was One Bright Day (1989) and Jahmekya (1991). Some of his most popular singles include “True to Myself”, “Drive”, “People Get Ready”, and his US Top 40 and UK Top 20 hit “Tomorrow People”.
As the 1990s continued, the Melody Makers’ sales slowly declined, beginning with Joy and Blues (1993) and continuing with Free Like We Want 2 B (1995).
Ziggy had become politically active by this time, working with the United Nations and creating a record label called Ghetto Youths Crew. A solo album, Dragonfly, was released on April 15, 2003.
On July 2, 2006, his second solo album, Love Is My Religion, was released on his independent record company Tuff Gong Worldwide.
He is listed as the featured artist on Donna Summer’s song, “Crayons,” the title track from her new album released on May 20, 2008, on the Burgundy label.
Family Time is Ziggy Marley s third solo album and first full-length offering especially for children and families. Marley produced the album with legendary producer Don Was, known for his Grammy-winning work with such artists as Bonnie Raitt as well as with his own hit-making group, Was (Not Was). With original songs newly-composed by Marley himself, the album features a variety of family and friends as guests including Rita Marley (Ziggy’s mother), Cedella Marley (sister), Judah Marley (daughter), Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Toots Hibberts (of Toots and the Maytals), Elizabeth Mitchell, Laurie Berkner, Paula Fuga and two stories narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis.
“Growing up music was an important part of my childhood,” Marley says. “I see it being just as important in my children and all children growth and development. Music helps children to grow with open minds and open hearts and this is my message. This record represents my daily family life and is inspired by my three-year-old daughter Judah and baby Gideon. It was a joy to make and opened up new avenues in my creativity. Family Time is for all families and especially the world family.”
Ziggy has contributed to a variety of children’s programming including Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer, the PBS children’s show Arthur, and the animated film Shark Tale, in which he played the character of Bernie the Jamaican jellyfish and re-recorded his father’s “Three Little Birds” with Sean Paul and his brother Stephen Marley for the soundtrack.
After playing it positive and safe with his children’s album Family Time, Ziggy Marley returns to more adult-oriented fare with Wild and Free (2011), a pro-cannabis album that’s suitably laid-back, militant, and organic. Helping with the organic is producer Don Was, who surrounds Ziggy with warm tones and good vibes and nothing feeling showy or cold. This enhances the freely developing numbers like “Roads Less Traveled” (a slowly chugging track that sounds inspired by Dad’s classic Wailers’ cut “Exodus”) and “A Sign” (one of those light, bright songs that reminds you Ziggy’s Melody Makers often shared the same new hippie spirit as hip-hop’s Arrested Development).
Marley is married to Orly Marley who is a former vice-president of William Morris Agency and presently manages his career and his record label, Tuff Gong Worldwide. When not on the road, Ziggy divides his time between homes in Jamaica, California and the Bahamas.
Marley is father to five children: Daniel Marley (born July 12, 1989), Justice Marley (born December 9, 1991), Zuri Marley (born October 28, 1995), Judah Victoria Marley (born April 21, 2005) and Gideon Robert Nesta Marley (born January 5, 2007).