Jo Mersa Marley: Bob Marley’s grandson found dead aged 31, cause of death - who was his father Stephen Marley?

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Jo Mersa Marley was a Jamaican reggae artist and the grandson of Bob Marley

Joseph "Jo Mersa" Marley, the grandson of reggae music legend Bob Marley and son of Grammy Award-winning musician Stephen Marley, has died at the age of 31.

News of his death was confirmed by Rolling Stone and was first reported in a tweet by journalist Abka Fitz-Henley.

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What was the cause of death?

Marley was reportedly found "unresponsive" in his vehicle in the USA, after suffering from a suspected asthma attack on 27 December 2022. He had reportedly suffered from asthma his entire life.

While the official cause of death has not been released, South Florida radio station WZP said he had died after suffering an asthma attack. It said: "Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that Jo Mersa Marley, son of Stephen Marley and grandson of Bob Marley, has passed away unexpectedly from an asthma attack. He was found in his vehicle earlier this morning. Known for his hit “Burn It Down” the reggae artist leaves behind his wife and daughter. We send our deepest condolences to the Marley family during this difficult time.”

Jo Mersa Marley Instagram

Marley was born on 12 March 1991 in Kingston Jamaica and moved to Miami at the age of 11.

He made his music debut in 2010, with the track "My Girl" on which he collaborated with his cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley. He released his first EP titled Comfortable in 2014. His debut album Eternal arrived in 2021.

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Marley was adamant about making his own way in music separate from his famous relatives. He said in an interview with Rolling Stone: “I am one of the new generation of Marleys, but I am still experimenting at the same time. My plan is to do something new with my roots.”

Bob Marley in concert. Credit: Keystone/Getty ImagesBob Marley in concert. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images
Bob Marley in concert. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images | Getty Images

Who was Bob Marley? 

Bob Marley, born in 1945, is considered to be one of the pioneers of reggae and was well known for his distinctive voice. He is considered to be a global symbol of Jamaican music, culture and identity.

He is well known for his songs ‘I shot the Sheriff’, ‘No Woman, No Cry’, and ‘One Love’. His greatest hits album, Legend, was released in 1984 and became the best-selling reggae album of all time. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was ranked No 11 on the list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone.

Bob Marley died in 1981 aged 36 due to cancer after being diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma in 1977. He had 11 children in total, four with his wife Rita - who he married in 1966, two adopted from Rita’s previous relationships, and several others with different women.

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Who was Jo Mersa’s father Stephen Marley?

Stephen Marley is an eight-time Grammy Award winner, and son of Bob and Rita Marley. He was born in 1972, and began his musical career in 1979, as part of the child band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

Stephen and his brother, Ziggy, performed alongside Bob and the Wailers at the 1978 One Love Peace Concert. However, after spending years as a producer and backing his brother, Stephen became a solo artist, and released Mind Control (2007), Revelation Part I: The Root of Life (2011), and Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life (2016).

Stephen Marley in 2004. Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty ImagesStephen Marley in 2004. Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
Stephen Marley in 2004. Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images | Getty Images

Tributes for Jo Mersa

Jamaica’s Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, said that she was “deeply saddened by the news”.

On Twitter she wrote: “We were graced by Joseph, whose stage name was Jo Mersa, performing at our Jamaica 60 Launch in Miramar, Florida, USA in May. His untimely passing at the young age of 31... is a huge loss to the music as we look to the next generation. May he find Eternal Peace as we mourn his loss during this season of goodwill when we celebrate with family and friends our love for each other.”

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Mark J Golding, Jamaica’s leader of the opposition and president of the People’s National Party also paid his condolences. He wrote: "I’ve just learned of the tragic loss of Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley. A talented young reggae artiste, son of Stephen Marley & grandson of Bob Marley at only 31 yrs old. The loss of a child is a devastating blow no parent should face, my condolences to Stephen & the entire family."

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