Rita Marley

THE Marleys have decided not to release an official statement regarding a hoax that family matriarch Rita had died.

Reports swirled on social media last weekend that the 74-year-old widow of reggae icon Bob Marley, and an artiste in her own right, passed away on Friday.

The reports were quickly dashed by her family but yesterday Marley's daughter, Cedella, went on social media and put all fears to rest. In a video, Cedella showed her mother, who despite slurring due to a protracted illness, spoke on camera.

“Good morning, good morning, good morning… Mommy: 'Say good morning, mommy',” said Cedella on the 36-second video.

“Good morning. I love you,” Rita Marley responded.

“She loves you. Give thanks and praise, the morning is nice, it's lovely outside. Hope you're listening to Bob Marley Tuff Gong Radio at Sirius XM. That's what's up… Get it, mom,” Cedella added.

“Everytime,” the elder Marley retorted.

A former member of sibling group The Melody Makers, Cedella Marley is CEO of the Bob Marley Group of Companies and eldest child of Bob and Rita.

A close associate of the Marley family told the Jamaica Observer that while she was not authorised to speak on their behalf, she found the situation to be most unfortunate as it caused unnecessary concern and panic for her family and people associated with Mrs Marley.

Rita Marley has several solo hits to her credit, including One Draw, Who Colt The Game, Harambe, God's Plan and So Much Things To Say. She was a member of the I-Three, the vocal trio which supported her husband during his live performances and recordings. The other members were Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Bob Marley died in May 1981 at age 36.

Rita Marley, who was born in Cuba to Jamaican parents, was in 2019 awarded the Order of Jamaica for her contribution to the development of Jamaican music.

She is the latest in a string of Jamaican artistes rumoured to be dead.

In November, Frankie Campbell, head of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA), lashed out at false information on social media regarding the 'death' of singer Derrick Harriott.

“These people who are spreading rumours don't realise how much of a problem they are posing for the friends and family of these persons who they are 'killing off'. When you look at it, these persons have family, many of who would be hearing these rumours and may believe it is true, and they too might have medical issues, and this news could become additional problems. But this practice is growing and with social media it is getting even worse. They have killed Beres [Hammond] at least two times and a few years ago radio stations in New York were playing his music non-stop because they had received word that he died,” Campbell told the Observer.

Saxophonist Dean Fraser and popular radio disc jockey Barry G were also victims of death rumours.

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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