On February 6, 2021, as part of Bob Marley’s 76th birthday Earthstrong celebration, Tuff Gong—the music label, studio and distribution company founded by Marley in 1965—debuted the brand new Survival 76 logo, which features the word Survival climbing up the number seven in black block letters and an impassioned Bob with his fist raised in the air to form the number six.
The Significance of Survival
Bob Marley and the Wailers released the album Survival in 1979, during a time of dire social and economic turmoil in Jamaica and ongoing racial injustice around the world, and it is widely considered to be Bob’s most militant work.
The album, a meditation on the struggles of the African diaspora and a call for the unification of Africa, features the flags of every country (at the time it was released) on the African continent, and contains some of Bob’s most ardent political songs. Lyrics such as these on the title track, “We're the survivors/ In this age of technological inhumanity/ Scientific atrocity/ Atomic misphilosophy/ Nuclear misenergy/ It's a world that forces lifelong insecurity…Together now/ We’re the survivors,” sound the alarm about oppression and societal ills, while exalting Black pride and unity.
Why Survival 76 Now
Right now, humanity is facing two global illnesses. One is the Covid-19 pandemic and the other is continuing racial, economic and social injustice that infects every society and is interconnected with the way we care for each other and our planet.
Seventy-six years after Bob Marley’s birth, his enduring message that love and solidarity are vital to our very survival has never resonated more strongly with people all around the world. But, in addition to the peaceful messages of “One Love” and “Redemption Song,” we must also heed Bob’s cry that runs through the album Survival to rise up and resist the systems of oppression. Our hope for the future lies in our commitment to “fight against ism and schism,” as he says in the song “One Drop.”
How the Survival Legacy Endures Today
The Marley family carries the torch of Bob’s message through various projects, including the Bob Marley Foundation, with its mission of impacting and transforming lives through social intervention projects related to education, culture, health, youth empowerment, environmental awareness and sustainable community development, and their music. Cedella Marley, the daughter of Rita and Bob Marley and CEO of Tuff Gong International, conceptualized a Survival 76 Cypher, with an updated new take on the iconic 1979 song, performed by Bob’s grandsons, twice Grammy-nominated Skip Marley, and Jo Mersa Marley, as well as Jamaican lyricists Tifa, Agent Sasco, Tanya Stephens, and Kabaka Pyramid.
Survival 76 and Earthstrong
While the annual Earthstrong celebration was unable to include the traditional live show in Kingston, Jamaica, this year (due to the pandemic), Bob’s 76th birthday was marked by global virtual festivities, including a new video of the original Survival directed and animated by Xavier Leblanc of Island Stage Magazine, and a live video of the Survival 76 cypher.
Bob and Rita’s son Ziggy Marley also marked the occasion with a special interview with Malcolm Gladwell about Bob Marley: Portrait of a Legend, which chronicles family life with Bob, and the seminal period of the artist’s career—both of which ended far too soon.