A grandson of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley has, like his grandfather before him, died much too soon. Joseph Mersa Marley, aka Jo Mersa, passed away on Tuesday. He was just 31 years old.
According to reports, Mersa, a Jamaica native, was found unresponsive in his vehicle in an undisclosed area of the United States. Though an official cause of death has yet to be determined, Mersa had reportedly suffered from chronic asthma since childhood. Some early reports out of Florida stated that he died of an asthma attack, but those reports have not yet been confirmed.
Mersa, who was born a decade after his famous grandfather died, attempted to make his mark on the music scene as well. He studied studio engineering at Miami Dade College and released his first album, “Comfortable,” in 2014, when he was 23. His latest album, aptly titled “Eternal,” was released in 2021. According to his Instagram account, he gave his last live performance in Fort Lauderdale on November 13.
The following video shows Mersa covering some of his grandfather’s greatest hits, including “Three Little Birds” and “One Love”:
Bob Marley is fondly remembered as a proud native of Jamaica, a pioneer of reggae music, and a proponent of the Rastafari religion, though he was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church shortly before his death. Bob Marley was also a notorious philanderer who fathered at least 11 children with several different women, even while married. Stephen Marley, the father of Jo Mersa, was the second son born to Bob Marley and his wife, Rita Anderson.
In 1977, Bob Marley was diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma, better known as skin cancer. Against the advice of doctors, Marley refused to amputate his toe, where the cancer was first discovered, and the disease metastasized. He died in May 1981 and was honored with a state funeral in Jamaica. He was just 36.
Bob Marley and Jo Mersa have both been survived by Stephen Marley, 50, who continues to make and perform music from his home in Miami. Mersa is also survived by his wife, Qiara, and daughter, Sunshine.
The prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, issued a statement after Mersa’s passing.
“My heartfelt sympathies to Joseph’s friends and associates and to the Reggae music fraternity and fans everywhere,” Holness wrote via Instagram. “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.”