Veteran reggae star Bunny Wailer dies aged 73

2 March 2021, 17:44

Bunny Wailer
Jamaica Obit Bunny Wailer. Picture: PA

The singer formed The Wailers in 1963 with late superstars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Bunny Wailer, the reggae luminary who was the last surviving member of The Wailers, has died at the age of 73, his manager said.

Wailer, a baritone singer whose birth name was Neville Livingston, formed The Wailers in 1963 with late superstars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

They were catapulted to international fame with the album Catch a Fire.

In addition to their music, the Wailers and other musicians popularised Rastafarian culture among better-off Jamaicans starting in the 1970s.

Bunny Wailer performing in 2005
Bunny Wailer performing in 2005 (Collin Reid/AP)

Wailer’s death in his native Jamaica was mourned worldwide as people shared pictures, music and memories of the renowned artist.

“The passing of Bunny Wailer, the last of the original Wailers, brings to a close the most vibrant period of Jamaica’s musical experience,” wrote Jamaica politician Peter Phillips in a Facebook post.

“Bunny was a good, conscious Jamaican brethren.”

Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness paid tribute to Wailer, calling him “a respected elder statesman of the Jamaican music scene”, in a series of tweets.

“This is a great loss for Jamaica and for Reggae, undoubtedly Bunny Wailer will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music industry and Jamaica’s culture,” he wrote.

While Wailer toured the world, he was more at home in Jamaica’s mountains and enjoyed farming while writing and recording songs on his label, Solomonic.

″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.″

A year before, he had chartered a jet and flew to Jamaica with food to help those affected by Hurricane Gilbert.

″Sometimes people pay less attention to those things (food) but they turn out to be the most important things. I am a farmer,″ he told the AP.

The three-time Grammy winner died at the Andrews Memorial Hospital in the Jamaican parish of St Andrew, his manager Maxine Stowe told reporters.

The cause of death was not immediately clear. Local newspapers had reported he had been in and out of hospital after surviving a stroke nearly a year ago.

By Press Association