Last Surviving Original Wailers Member Bunny Wailer Dead at 73
Born Neville Livingston, Wailer rose to fame alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in the 1970s
Bunny Wailer, the last surviving original member of legendary Jamaican reggae trio the Wailers, died on Tuesday at a Kingston hospital at the age of 73.
Born Neville Livingston in the Nine Mile district of Jamaica’s St. Ann Parish and affectionately called Jah B, Wailer rose to fame alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in the 1970s as a member of a group that was sometimes referred to as “Jamaica’s Beatles.”
Though most people think of Wailer, Marley and Tosh in loose clothes and dreadlocks, the trio wore suits and had short-cropped hair when the Wailers formed in 1963 when its founding members were teenagers.
“Bunny Jah B Wailer’s body has left us but he knows just as we know that his legacy, music and spirit will never die,” Ziggy Marley told Rolling Stone. “His contribution to our music not only as a member of the Wailers but as a solo artist has been been an enormous influence for me personally and to many more around the world. Pass It On.”
“Bunny Wailer has made a tremendous impact on the world setting the stage for a global movement a love for Rocksteady and reggae music,” Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in an official statement. “His legendary performances have touched the hearts and souls of millions of fans in Jamaica and across the world. Many generations have been privileged to have been exposed to his conscious music.”
Known for the harmonies he could add to Marley and Tosh’s lead vocals, Wailer — who took exception with Snoop Dogg appropriating Rastafarianism during his Snoop Lion days — was an accomplished solo musician and won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991, 1995 and 1997.
″I think I love the country actually a little bit more than the city,″ Wailer told The Associated Press in 1989. ″It has more to do with life, health and strength. The city takes that away sometimes. The country is good for meditation. It has fresh food and fresh atmosphere — that keeps you going. Sometimes people pay less attention to those things [food], but they turn out to be the most important things. I am a farmer.”
No official cause of death was given for Wailer’s passing, but the reggae icon had been in and out of the hospital since suffering his second stroke in 2020. Marley died in 1981 of a brain tumor at age 36, and Tosh was fatally shot in Jamaica in 1987 at 42 years old. The original trio split in 1974.
Many a Wailers record will be spun today and this week, with good cause.
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