The last Wailers survivor died this week

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Reggae star Bunny Wailer dies at 73

Bunny Wailer, world star and founder of the Wailers, along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh has died at the age of 73, according to a statement by a Jamaican government official. Bunny Wailer, born Neville Livingston joined his ancestors. The Jamaican star returned to his roots after rising to global fame with Bob Marley to diversify reggae with a powerful sense of creative freedom.

The last surviving founding member of The Wailers: Bunny Wailer

Wailer, born Neville Livingston, was a founding member of the pioneering reggae group the Wailers, along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Wailer, Tosh and Marley formed the group the Wailing Wailers in the Trench Town neighborhood of Kingston when the trio were still teenagers in 1963.

What Wailer manages to do is creative independence, coupled with an international presence. The wider music world continued to want to know what it was doing; his stay in Jamaica allowed him to do so without interference. By choosing not to work within the mainstream system, or even in some cases recognize it, Wailer bought himself the freedom to experiment and interact with his Jamaican audience in the first place. This allowed him to explore and contribute to the development of grassroots reggae, rather than staying on the company-defined carousel, and he was celebrated as one of the few prominent reggae artists to transcend the genres within music. Bunny Wailer's Sings the Wailers album updates some of the trio's early hits while staying true to the originals, skillfully demonstrating how so much modern Jamaican music fits together.

Each of the founding members of the group had their own role to play. "Peter Tosh was the real activist, then Bob was the poetic revolutionary humanist," Goldman said. “Bunny was considered the spiritual mystic. "

After meeting Joe Higgs, a singer known as the godfather of reggae who became their mentor, the group added Junior vocalist Braithwaite and backing vocalists Beverly Kelso and Cherry Green. The new group, now known as The Wailers, recorded "Simmer Down" in December 1963, a song written by Marley calling for peace in the slums of Kingston. The track rose to number one in Jamaica and was followed by the single “Duppy Conquerer” and the debut album “The Wailing Wailers”, which was released in 1965.

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The group then went on a short hiatus when Wailer spent 14 months in jail for possession of marijuana and Marley married and moved to the United States. After reuniting, the band released their second album "Soul Rebels" in 1970. The ensemble then caught the attention of producer Chris Blackwell, who signed them to his label Island Records. The group released the albums "Catch A Fire" and "Burnin '" with Island before Wailer decided to leave the group in 1973, citing conflicts between an international touring schedule and his Rastafarian faith.

When he left the Wailers between Burnin 'and Natty Dread, the decision didn't seem easy. He and Marley had been friends since childhood and had a common half-sister, Claudette, born to Wailer's father and Marley's mother. But to anyone who knew Wailer, it was no surprise: he didn't want success in itself so much, he wanted it in his own way. The benchmark of what was possible under these conditions was Blackheart Man, his first solo album in 1976, and one of six truly awesome roots reggae albums.

Jamaican PM honors reggae superstar

Jamaican Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Minister Olivia Grange said Wailer died at Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston after being hospitalized since December. No cause of death was given in the statement which Ms Grange said was made at the request of Wailer's family. Wailer suffered a stroke in July 2020 and has spent most of the time in hospital since then.

“We mourn the passing of this exceptional singer, songwriter and percussionist and we celebrate his life and his many accomplishments,” said Grange. "We remain grateful for the role Bunny Wailer has played in the development and popularity of Reggae music around the world."

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness also released a statement honoring the reggae music star who has traveled the world sharing music from his native Caribbean island.

“Bunny Wailer has had a huge impact on the world, paving the way for a global movement and a love for Rocksteady and reggae music,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. "His legendary performances have touched the hearts and souls of millions of fans in Jamaica and around the world."

Celebrate a remarkable career

As a solo artist, Wailer has released dozens of albums, including his debut album "Blackheart Man" in 1976, during a career that spanned more than four decades. His solo work is characterized by music in the reggae roots style, which reflects his deep devotion as a committed Rastafarian. Wailer won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album three times in the 1990s. In 2012, the Jamaican government awarded him the Order of Jamaica, followed in 2017 by the Order of Merit, "the highest honor. of the country ”, according to the statement of the Prime Minister.

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In 1981, Marley died of cancer at the age of 36. Then, Tosh died at age 46 after being shot by a gunman in 1987. As the last surviving member of the Wailers, Bunny Wailer told the Washington Post in 2006 that he was happy with his legacy.

“I'm happy to know that I'm serving the goal of getting reggae music where it is,” he said. "I am proud to be a part of it".

Of course, another aspect of Wailer's change of course from the traditional music business has been his total immersion in the rastafarian. An integral part of his personal and deeply spiritual life, his total independence allowed him to express his faith as he saw fit. The shiny, somewhat regal white dresses or officer's uniform style suits became something of a hallmark: the first time I met him he was smoking weed in a froth-type pipe. sea, large enough but very beautiful, with a hearth on which was carved a rastaman. The brilliant Bunny Wailer simply took reggae forward on his own terms.

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Tags : Bob MarleyCelebrity
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