Bunny Wailer, who co-founded seminal Jamaican group The Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, has died at the age of 73. His death on Tuesday morning was confirmed by his manager, Maxine Stowe, to the Jamaican Observer. A cause of death was not provided.
Born Neville O’Riley Livingston, Bunny Wailer met Marley and Tosh when the three were children in Kingston, Jamaica. The trio formed the nucleus of the early Wailers lineup, which released its debut album, The Wailing Wailers, in 1965.
The Wailers – The Wailing Wailers – Full Album
Livingston, Marley, and Tosh eventually recorded the classic album Catch a Fire in 1973 as their major-label debut. The album catapulted the Wailers to success in the burgeoning international reggae market, but Tosh and Livingstone both left the group that year as producer Chris Blackwell and Island Records increasingly sought to present The Wailers as Bob Marley’s backing band.
Bunny Wailer, a devout Rastafarian, continued to be prolific as a solo artist, beginning with the release of his debut solo record, Blackheart Man, in 1976. As the Jamaican Observer notes, “In 2017, the Jamaican Government awarded Bunny Wailer an Order of Merit, the country’s fourth highest honour. The Government again recognised his contribution to Jamaican music in February 2019 with a Reggae Gold Award.”
Bunny Wailer was the last surviving member of the original Wailers. Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36, while Peter Tosh was gunned down in 1987 at age 42.