02/08/2013 01:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 8 Stages of Being a Bob Marley Fan, In Honor of Bob Marley's Birthday

This is reprinted with permission from

They say you never forget your first.

My first Bob Marley CD was Live!, Marley and the Wailers' live album from a July 1975 concert at the the Lyceum Theatre in London. I was in 7th grade and ordered it as part of a "5-CDs-for-a-dollar" deal through one of those Columbia House Music mail-order catalogs. The album came three weeks later in a package with Dave Matthew's Crash, Sublime's 40 oz to Freedom, Limp Bizkit's Three Dollar Bill, Y'all, and Third Eye Blind's self-titled album.

Don't judge: I was 13.

Bob Marley's Live! is an energetic album, opening with Marley gleefully sqwuaking out the first lines of "Trenchtown Rock": "One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain." As an impressionable young teenager coming of age in a world where music tastes were dictated after school by a mouth-breathing Carson Daly on TRL, those lyrics were like gospel to me. It was the moment of my Bob Marley baptism: Riding home on a school bus from middle school, just a few bars into "Trenchtown Rock" as the CD spun away on a 20-second skip protection Discman.

I love Bob Marley. At this point in my life, I've loved Bob Marley for a really long time. But everyone loves Bob Marley. Like The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Sintara, Marley is enshrined on a Mount Rushmore of world-renowned musicians who are utterly impossible to hate. There are few other artists in 20th century music who enjoy such universal appeal. "Bob Marley is overrated" has never been uttered when "Jammin'" or "Easy Skankin'" is queued up on a summer pool party playlist. His music has inspired millions of fat, middle-class Americans to chill out and have another pina colada out on Royal Caribbean cruises for decades.

What is easy to hate, however, is fanboys who become just-a-little-too obsessed with Marley. You know the type: Wookied out in brunette dreadlocks, wearing a hemp beanie, rocking a green-and-yellow Jamaican flag shirt. Footwear of choice: Birkenstocks. Only drinks water out of a Nalgene plastered in stickers. More often than not, this person is mostly likely the spawn of successful upper-middle-class parents, perhaps dentists or car dealership owners.

Over the years, I've noticed how this overly-intense Bob Marley fandom can be a gateway drug for tour-rat life-nowhereness. Trust me, you don't want to end up spending your summer slinging nitrus balloons in amphitheater parking lots. And no one likes a poseur, especially one who pushes his beliefs and tastes on someone else. Everyone knows those faux-Rastafarian "beliefs" you've embraced only exist as a thinly-veiled excuse for getting fucked up.

Since Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, would have been Bob Marley's 68th birthday, I've identified the phases Bob Marley's most intense fanboys tend to go through. They often happen quickly, so don't ignore the warning signs.

The 8 Stages of Being a Bob Marley Fan, In Honor of Bob Marley’s Birthday

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