Bunny Wailer, Reggae Legend and Wailers Co-Founder, Dies at 73

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The last surviving member of the Wailers suffered a stroke in 2020

Bunny Wailer
Neville O’Riley Livingston aka Bunny Wailer, May 2016 (Michael Bunel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Reggae legend Bunny Wailer has died, The Associated Press reports. Wailer was the last surviving member of the iconic reggae band the Wailers, which he co-founded with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in 1963. Jamaica Observer reported that the reggae luminary suffered a stroke in 2020 and had been in and out of the hospital since then. Bunny Wailer was 73 years old.

Bunny Wailer was born Neville O’Riley Livingston in Kingston, Jamaica. He met Marley when they were children in the Nile Mile village of St. Ann Parrish. Later, while being mentored by Joe Higgs in Trench Town, the two met Tosh for the first time. The trio started the Wailers and enlisted vocalists Junior Braithwaite and Beverley Kelso to join the band.

Wailer was one of the constant Wailers members amid a rotating cast through the ’60s and early ’70s. He played drums and sang on classic Wailers records like Catch a Fire and Burnin’, which were both released in 1973. Shortly after, he left the band to pursue a solo career; Wailer issued his debut solo album Blackheart Man in 1976.

In the ’90s, Wailer won three reggae Grammys: Best Reggae Recording in 1991 (Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley), Best Reggae Album in 1995 (Crucial! Roots Classics), and Best Reggae Album again in 1997 (Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary). In 2012, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica honor, bestowed upon “any Jamaican citizen of outstanding distinction.”

 

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