Fact or Fiction About Bob Marley's Death?

Considering today marks the 20th anniversary of the great musician Bob Marley’s death. I thought what better time to ask such a question as today.

As high school kids we used to pass around this rumor that after Bob Marley’s passing there was said to be found at least 10 different types of dead bugs in his dread-locks. Considering that to achieve that hair style you needed to not wash it, then this story seems logical.

Now my question is was this true or was it just another vicious high school rumor?

You’ve got to be kidding. Of course dreadlocks are washed.

When the National Guard killed four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, rumors spread afterward that their bodies had been riddled with heroin needle tracks and were infested with lice. Completely false, of course; the county coroner said “These were four clean kids.” The rumor does indicate how Middle America wanted to make the victims appear subhuman to justify the murder of its youth.

Sounds like demonizing to me. From what I’ve seen, dreadlocks take a lot more attention than most styles and the people I’ve known who wore dreadlocks washed their hair a lot.

You have to be kidding me using the word demonizing!

Does anyone look up words before the write them? I by no means turned anything into EVIL, let alone the devil. For starters i’ve talked to plenty of people who DIDN’T wash there hair to achieve dread-locks.I’ve heard others put egg products to achieve there desired look.

So the conclusion is look up your words before printing & everyone has there own method to achieve dread-locks

I think you misunderstand tomndebb’s intent, Jeffism. tomndebb did not say that you were the one doing the demonizing. The rumor was concocted in order to demonize Bob Marley. If you made up the rumor, then you are the demonizer. If you merely passed the rumor along because it was a juicy story and you were a teenager, then you may be deluded by the untruth, but you weren’t demonizing.
While the effect of the rumor may have been Bob Marley’s demonization, I don’t think tomndebb’s post was meant as a personal attack against you.

Also, aren’t dredlocks traditionally formed using beeswax? It doesn’t seem like the wax and oil created by the human body would be the right thing to use to form them.

I’ve heard the same rumors about Rastas from several Jamaicans. They all love Bob, but many of the average folks there don’t have a lot of love for guys with dreads. There is kind of a romantic view of the vegetarian back-to-the-earth religious Rastafarians who live in the mountains, but the ones who live in town - the phony opportunists who wear dreadlocks and hit up on tourists (called “Rent-a-Dreads” by the locals) - are universally despised. I often heard stories about their hair being full of scorpions and spiders. I’m sure this isn’t true, but I heard it.

If tomndebb was refering only to the myth & not me, than i over reacted than i apologize.

But wouldn’t the correct terminology be to demoralize, rather than demonize? Because after all wouldn’t the original nay sayer be trying to corrupt Marley’s name?

No matter how the myth/rumor started, hasn’t anyone played the game telephone? The game entails putting a large group of people in a row, & then the person on one side whispers a story to the person next to them, and so forth til the end of the line. Thus when it finally reaches the end of the line the story has drastically changed…

The telephone analogy might be a better description rather than a person trying to ruin a person’s image.

Demoralize…what?! Tomndebb’s use was correct both with regard to intent of the rumor and in the context of your original question.

Let’s see.

demoralize 1. to deprive (a person or persons)of spirit, courage, discipline, etc.; destroy the morale of

demonize 1. to make into or as if into a DEMON
-a person or thing regarded as evil, cruel, etc

I don’t think the “telephone” analogy is apropos. The bug collection in his dreads rumor may have been spread via a “telephone” like scenario but it started with someone, somewhere concocting this canard as a way to make Marley look like a filthy, sub-human animal. I think this fits the context of “demonizing” a lot better than demoralizing. Demoralizing makes no sense in context. Demoralize who?

Bob Marley died of cancer at 36. He received treatment in a Bavarian clinic, but it was too late, and he attempted to fly back to Jamaica. He died in Miami, in his sleep.

This is from the book Reggae International, by Stephen Davis and Peter Simon, 1982:

“A few days earlier, Chris Blackwell had shown Marley a photo taken of him when he was sixteen, on the day he was married to Rita Anderson. Looking over Blackwell’s shoulder, gazing at her slight son as he lay in a Miami hospital, his dreadlocks gone due to illness, Bob’s mother remarked that he looked the same now as he did back then.”

I hunted that down after remembering seeing photos taken shortly before he died,(couldn’t find them online) and he was wan and sans dreads.

So I suppose that charming rumor can be laid to rest.

Chant Down Babylon…


demoralize 1. to deprive (a person or persons)of spirit, courage, discipline, etc.; destroy the morale of

demonize 1. to make into or as if into a DEMON
-a person or thing regarded as evil, cruel, etc


Let’s divulge the complete meaning of both words so that NEITHER is swayed in anyone’s OWN direction


  1. To undermine the confidence or morale of; dishearten. 2. To put into disorder; confuse. 3. To debase the morals of; corrupt.


  1. To turn into or as if into a demon. 2. To possess by or as if by a demon. 3. To represent as evil or diabolic.

When correctly quoted from the Dictionary it seems that Demoralize fits perfectly w/my OP. I would think the person who started this myth/rumor had great (if false)intention to dishearten or confuse fans of Bob Marleys.

But you never know because the person who started this could have grown wings & flew away like in the movies.

Hey, i’ve been wrong before…

FTR, ElDestructo and astro both correctly identified my intent. Don’t forget that a lot of Marley’s music was very political–and not too kind to the U.S. I suspect that trying to portray him as a nasty person with horrible hygeine would have worked well among some groups to “represent as evil or diabolic” the man and his message.

And, as noted, if you did not start the rumor, Jeffism15, then I hold you in no contempt for having heard it.

It’s a variation of the old “roaches/spiders in the bouffant hairdo” urban legend. See more raising-hair stories at Snopes.

No, Jeffism15, you still don’t understand the meaning of “demoralize.” To demoralize someone is undermine his confidence in himself. You can’t demoralize a dead person. Demoralizing someone is something you do to a person to change his thoughts about himself (or about life in general), not someone else’s thoughts about him. While it’s true that the word “demonize” is being used in a rather vague sense, it’s closer to what’s being done here than “demoralize.” Yes, an older, stricter sense of the word is “to treat someone as being the embodiment of evil,” but usually the word is used in the sense of “to treat the person as being morally deficient.”

I really wonder if anyone realizes that there was an OP here, and it has nothing to do with the words Demoralize or Demonize. The OP has already been answered more than once, so let’s call it conclusion…

Give us a break, Jeffism15. You were the one who went off onto the side track by complaining about tomndebb’s use of the word “demonize.” You’re the one who doesn’t understand the correct meanings of either of the words “demonize” or “demoralize.” Don’t complain if we decide to straighten out something you said in a side track you started.

I’m only complaining because some people need a life–strictly you…

Plus, you don’t get any brownie points on Straight Dope message board like Kindergarten.

Bah, define “a life”. Is smoking pot and talking vaguely about the purpous of the universe a life? Is going to work and punching in every day just to come home and put a bottle in your babies mouth a life? Or is perhaps “a life” refer to what you think is cool or phat? heh, get a life.

wouldn’t dehumanize be better?

I don’t have to prove a thing cause you just proved to me everything i always strived not to be.

That’s enough of this absurdity.
Adios board member for life

Children! Children! In your rooms, NOW!