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Bob Marley would have been 70 today, so meet Preppy Bob Marley

Phil Edwards is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

Bob Marley, preppy

Meet Preppy Bob Marley. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Bob Marley, born on February 6, 1945, would have been 70 today, so it seems fitting to celebrate him by meeting Preppy Bob Marley for the first time.

Many people probably haven't seen this 1964 picture of Bob Marley, and they definitely haven't seen it on a t-shirt. But it proves that, at one point, Preppy Bob Marley existed. Perhaps, in some alternate universe, the famous Jamaican singer kept his early style and only performed at weddings on the weekends, after a long week selling mid-tier commercial real estate.

But that didn't happen in this universe — for a deeply-held reason. Marley's makeover wasn't a cynical rebrand, but the product of his spiritual evolution. Bob Marley: A Biography pegs the singer's hairstyle change to his 1966 stay in Wilmington, Delaware, when he converted to Rastafarianism.

Rastafari grow out their hair because of how they interpret prescriptions in Leviticus 21:5 ("They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh") and Numbers 6:5 ("During the entire period of their Nazarite vow, no razor may be used on their head").

In her memoir, No Woman, No Cry, Rita Marley wrote that Bob was one of the first people to say, "You don't have to straighten your hair, you can wear it natural." That's also why Marley has a famous quote attributed to him: "Trust the universe and respect your hair."

Of course, most of that spiritual and stylistic evolution is lost in the creation of Bob Marley, private equity-backed brand and far-flung merchandising empire. That commercialized vision of the singer makes it even harder imagine a universe where dorm room walls are covered with posters of Bob Marley in a bow tie. His whole life doesn't match the corporate style guide.