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Bob Marley

Bob Marley sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

Bob Marley didn't sing "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

Here's a little ME I wrote

Reggae legend Bob Marley is famous the world over for his genre-defining reggae work, but was one of them the song "Don't Worry Be Happy"? Many people remember it was, but references today show this wasn't one of his.

The song was released in 1988 by Bobby McFerrin, has the same catchy style Marley was known for, and won a Grammy award for the song of the year. It even appears in the Rolling Stone list of the 15 best whistling songs of all time.

But although Marley recorded many, many classics of his own, this wasn't one of them.

Bobby McFerrin

The 1988 original is seen today as the one from Bobby McFerrin and it held the number one spot for two weeks of the Billboard Hot 100 in that year. It's well-known for featuring a video with Robin Williams and Bill Irwin.

The simple reason for the confusion is probably because Marleys hit "Three Little Birds" begins with the line "Don't worry",  and it's main theme throughout is one which is exactly the same as the McFerrrin one. In other words, people store "a reggae song about not worrying" in their minds for both, and because Marley is much better known, store him as the singer for both without paying much more attention to the detail. Or, they hear the McFerrin one and do remember it as not being Marley, but over time the association morphs in the memory for the same reason.