Wailers Co-Founder Bunny Wailer 1947 – 2021
Bunny Wailer, who co-founded The Wailers, died today at age 73. The famed reggae musician passed away this morning at the Medical Associates Hospital in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica according to his manager, Maxine Stowe, as per the Jamaica Observer.
Neville O’Riley Livingston was born in Kingston on April 10, 1947. He became friends with Bob Marley as a toddler and the pair went on to form The Wailing Wailers in 1963 with Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite and Beverley Kelso. At first, the group played ska before evolving to reggae. Bunny both sang and played percussion with the group, who eventually changed their name to The Wailers.
Bunny Wailer took part in The Wailers’ first tours of the UK and America and contributed to the group’s first two albums for Island Records: Catch A Fire and Burnin’. In 1973, just as the band was achieving international success, the man also known as Bunny Livingston and Jah B parted ways with The Wailers to focus on solo recordings. Bunny released the acclaimed Blackheart Man via Island/Tuff Gong in 1976.
In 1990, Bunny honored Marley, who died in 1981, with Time Will Tell: A Tribute To Bob Marley. Wailer’s tribute scored the musician the 1991 Grammy award for Best Reggae Album. Livingston also won the same award in 1995 for Crucial! Roots Classics and for his participation in 1997’s Hall Of Fame: A Tribute To Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary.
Livingston continued recording and performing throughout his seven-decade career. Wailer was awarded the Order Of Merit, Jamaica’s fourth highest honor, in 2017. Bunny has dealt with multiple strokes in recent years and has been in and out of the hospital since suffering his latest stroke last July according to the Jamaica Observer.