By Anastacia Tsoulcas
Singer, songwriter and percussionist Bunny Wailer, an icon of reggae music, died in Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday morning. He was 73 years old. Wailer was a founding member of The Wailers, alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.
His death was reported initially by Jamaica’s Observer newspaper, which said that he had been unwell since enduring a second stroke in July 2020.
It was confirmed by Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, who said in a statement: “I announce with deepest sadness the passing of the patriarch, brother, friend and Jamaican music icon, the great Bunny Wailer … We mourn the passing of this outstanding singer, songwriter and percussionist and celebrate his life and many accomplishments. We remain grateful for the role that Bunny Wailer played in the development and popularity of reggae music across the world.”
Wailer was born Neville O’Riley Livingston on April 10, 1947, and literally grew up with Marley from early childhood: Marley’s mother and Wailer’s father joined households in Kingston, and had a daughter together.
In 1963, Wailer and Marley formed The Wailing Wailers with their friend Peter Tosh. Singers Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith joined the group, but departed within a period of months to a few years.