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Joseph “Jo” Mersa Marley, son of Stephen Marley and grandson of reggae superstar Bob Marley, passed away at the age of 31 on Tuesday, his representative confirmed to Rolling Stone.
Mersa Marley’s cause of death hasn’t been confirmed by authorities, though a South Caribbean radio station claimed the up and coming reggae musician was found in his vehicle Tuesday morning after suffering an asthma attack.
“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,” WZPP radio posted on Instagram.
Born in Jamaica, Jo Mersa Marley moved to Miami at age 11, where he began to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
His first single, “My Girl,” paved the way for future hits like “Burn it Down,” “Made It,” and “No Way Out.”
“Then when I was around 12, my cousins and I went on the Melody Makers’ Roots Rock tour. Uncle Ziggy bought my cousins an Apple laptop and we used the Garage Band software and made our beats on it,” Mersa Marley told the Jamaica Observer in 2014.
“We recorded from the microphone, put on our headphones and that became our studio for a good three years. That is when my songwriting started to get more focused.”
Jo Mersa Marley leaves behind an unfinished legacy
Seeking to develop his own sound, Jo Mersa Marley wasn’t content with simply living in the shadow of his father Stephen Marley’s sensual sound. Nor did he want to simply mimic his grandfather Bob Marley, whose inspirational music complimented his revolutionary mind.
He released two EPs, “Comfortable” (2014) and “Eternal” (2021), along with being featured in several of his relatives’ songs.
Tributes to the late musician flooded social media.
Absolutely shocked to the core
What a delightful young man, we spent some time on tour in America a few times in recent years a real Marley to the core.
Wicked Sound, Beautiful Soul
Rest In Paradise Jo Mersa Marley
— ALI CAMPBELL (@UB40) December 28, 2022
The president of Jamaica’s leading opposition party, the People’s National Party, called Jo Mersa’s death a “tragic loss.”
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. pic.twitter.com/BJf1NLH6Qc
— Mark J. Golding (@MarkJGolding) December 27, 2022
Jo Mersa Marley is survived by his wife and daughter.