Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley, son of musician Stephen Marley and the grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley, has reportedly died. He was 31.
The Jamaican American reggae artist was allegedly found unresponsive in a vehicle, according to an initial tweet by journalist Abka Fitz-Henley on Tuesday.
Mark J. Golding, a Jamaican politician, the Opposition Leader, and president of the People’s National Party, mourned Marley’s death on Twitter, writing, “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.”
Marley was born in Jamaica in 1992 before moving to Miami at age 11. He was surrounded by music and as a kid, even taking the stage with his father, as well as Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (the group comprising his uncle Ziggy and aunts Sharon and Cadella). Often, as Marley told Rolling Stone in a 2014 interview, he and his cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley (Ziggy’s son) were tasked with singing the Medley Makers’ 1989 song, “Look Who’s Dancing.”
Marley began writing his own music in middle school and released his first official song “My Girl” (a collaboration with Daniel Bambaata) in 2010. Four years later, Marley dropped his debut solo EP, Comfortable, and in 2016 he joined his father on “Revelation Party,” a song from Stephen’s album Revelation Part 2: The Fruit of Life. His most recent project, Eternal — which featured collaborations with reggae and dancehall artists like Busy Signal, Black-Am-I, and Kabaka Pyramid — arrived in 2021.
His grandfather was a pioneer in the reggae movement and known for songs including “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Is This Love,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “No Woman, No Cry” and more.
Bob Marley died in 1981 of melanoma at only 36. He had 11 children with seven different women.
Stephen Marley additionally has a daughter, Mystic Marley, who is also a musician. Stephen’s siblings include musician Ziggy Marley and entrepreneur Rohan Marley.
Jo Mersa spent his early years in Jamaica before he moved to Florida in high school. He studied studio engineering at Miami Dade College, according to a 2014 Jamaica Observer story.