Bunny Wailer, reggae star and founder of The Wailers, has died at the age of 73
Bunny Wailer, a reggae star who was the last surviving founding member of legendary group The Wailers, died Tuesday in his native Jamaica. He was 73 years old.
Wailer, a baritone singer by the birth name of Neville Livingston, founded The Wailers with late superstars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in 1963 when they lived in a slum in the capital, Kingston. They catapulted themselves to international fame with the album “Catch a Fire” and from the 1970s onwards also contributed to making the Rastafarian culture known among the better-off Jamaicans.
“Jah-B was an avant-garde always pushing the boundaries of expression, be it song, style or spoken word,” said Brian Paul Welsh, a local reggae musician named Blvk H3ro. “There was and can only be one Neville Livingston at a time.”
Wailer died at Andrews Memorial Hospital in the St. Andrew parish of Jamaica of complications from a stroke he suffered in July, manager Maxine Stowe told The Associated Press.
His death was mourned worldwide as people shared music, memories, and pictures by the famous artist.
“The death of Bunny Wailer, the last of the original Wailers, ended the most vibrant phase of Jamaica’s musical experience,” wrote Jamaican politician Peter Phillips in a Facebook post. “Bunny was a good, conscious Jamaican brother.”
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness also paid tribute to Wailer, calling him “a respected senior statesman on the Jamaican music scene” in a series of tweets.
“This is a great loss to Jamaica and reggae. Without a doubt, Bunny Wailer will always be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the music industry and Jamaican culture,” he wrote.
While touring the world, Wailer was more at home in Jamaica’s mountains and enjoying farming while writing and recording songs on his Solomonic label.
“I think I love the country a little more than the city,” Wailer told The Associated Press in 1989. “It has more to do with life, health, and strength.” The city sometimes takes that away. The land is good for meditation. It has fresh food and a fresh atmosphere – that’s what keeps you going. “
A year earlier, in 1988, he had chartered a jet and flown to Jamaica with groceries to help those affected by Hurricane Gilbert.
“Sometimes people pay less attention to these things (food), but they turn out to be the most important things. I’m a farmer, “he told the AP.
He was the third and final original Wailer. Marley died of a brain tumor in 1981 at the age of 36 and Tosh was fatally shot and killed in Jamaica in 1987 at the age of 42.
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