It’s with deepest sadness to learn of the passing of one of my most favourite artists, the patriarch and Jamaican music icon, the great Bunny Wailer.
I mourn the passing of this outstanding singer, songwriter and percussionist and celebrate his life and many accomplishments.
The legend, whose real name was Neville O’Riley Livingston, had been the last surviving member of The Wailers, following Bob Marley’s death from cancer in 1981, and Peter Tosh’s murder during a robbery in 1987.
Bunny Wailer played a key role in the development and popularising of reggae music across the world.
Wailer literally grew up with Marley from early childhood: Marley’s mother and Wailer’s father joined households in Kingston, and had a daughter together.
In 1963, Wailer and Marley formed The Wailing Wailers with their friend Peter Tosh. Singers Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith joined the group, but departed within a period of months to a few years.
By 1974 both Wailer and Tosh had departed from The Wailers, in part because the music industry seemed intently focused on making Marley a solo star. Wailer’s subsequent hits included the songs “Cool Runnings” and “Ballroom Floor,” as well as his 1976 album, Blackheart Man.
Wailer won three Grammys in the early 1990s; in 2017, he was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Merit, one of his country’s highest honours.May his soul rest in eternal peace!