Bob Marley Dreads Evolution

Written By Bakes

Avid writer on Men's Hair, Grooming, and Lifestyle!

Even decades after his death Bob Marley dreads continue to be studied, referenced in pop culture and a source of inspiration to many. 

His dreads were a symbol of his Rastafarian faith and culture used to communicate freedom from oppression, rejection of western standards whilst bringing unity amongst the masses. 

It’s well documented at this point that Bob Marley dreads were long, thick, and a huge part of his identity which our editorial will look at in detail.  


How and When did Bob Marley Dreads Start?

bob marley dreads throughout the years

How: Bob Marley’s dreads were started by the freeform method which involves hair being twisted and then left alone. No manipulation after this point to the root which is why some locks were bigger than others. 

A perfect example of this hairstyle today would be Jay z dreads who has freeform Dreadlocks and clearly an inspiration from Bob Marley’s hair. 


When: From our archives we can see Bob Marleys dreads began to form during 1973.

Prior to this Bob rocked a full rounded afro and once he converted to Rastafarian culture, he began the process of getting dreads. As you can see from his roots there was little manipulation done. The twisted ends would guide each lock.



A detailed Look

The video below from Knot nation takes us through images of Bob Marley’s dreads at the last stages of his life as well as how his dreads started. Make sure to watch the video below.





The evolution of Bob Marley Dreads


The Afro

Prior to his musical fame as the biggest reggae artist Bob Marley’s hair was worn in an afro.

bob marley afro

During the 60s he started his career alongside Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston in 1963. Bob can be seen in most images during this time in an afro haircut. Short, rounded, and full.




During the early 70s we can begin to see Bobs hair twisted at the ends which would form the foundation for his freeform dreadlocks. Multiple Photos from 72 – 73 feature bobs hair left twisted without any manipulation.

twisted hair

The change of his hair came from his involvement in Rastafarian culture. One of the beliefs Rastas adopt comes from the bible verse Numbers 6:5,

“During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long.

Hence why Rastas grow their hair very long



Above Shoulder Dreads

During 1974 we began to see Bobs dreads starting to form and mature. At this stage we can identify the freeform of his dreads as certain dreads are thicker than others and there is no uniform look.

bob marley dreads in the 70s

In addition to this his dreads are gaining weight which would explain why they are growing downwards towards his shoulders.



Shoulder Length Dreads (Mid 70s)

Now a household name Bob was easily identified by his dreads as they became longer and a staple within reggae music.

shoulder length dreads

The mid 70s also mark the Attempted assassination of Bob Marley with the Gunmen missing the singer but injuring his wife Rita Marley who was shot in the head but due to the thickness of her dreads survived the bullet.



Long Dreads

Any image of Bob during the late 70s before his death will reveal his long dreads coming down to his back and covering his chest.

bob marley hair

People often wonder why Bob Marley’s dreads got so long. Simply put, Strands of hair that are bunched up together in a loc have a lower tendency to break and more importantly hair does not shred as frequently in locks compared to loose hair.

Therefore, Bobs dreads were long and thick!


Do your research if you want similar Dreads

While there is a lot of conflicting information with regards to dreadlocks, we still advise you to do research. The most important things at the initial stage will be to watch videos online and make notes of the peoples dreads you admire.

We should also mention that its best you avoid placing any colour or bleach in your hair for the first few months as your hair begins to develop.



Talk to a loctician and get a Consultation

Whilst we know freeform dreads don’t require much to start as a simple sponge twist and leaving them can begin the process, we still advise you speak to a professional who will access the health of your hair and wash if nothing else.

During the consultations locitians will be able to have a closer look at your hair type, discuss the freeform process, products to use and avoid.

Ensure you save the images of your desired style to your loctician and explain what you’re looking for.


To stay updated on everything happening in men’s style/lifestyle, street culture & music follow @heartafact on Instagram


Leave a Comment