Rolling Stone reports that Bunny Wailer, the last surviving founding member of The Wailers, has died at age 73, as confirmed by his manager Maxine Stowe. He died earlier today at the Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica according to Jamaica Observer, and no cause of death has been released yet. He’d been in failing health since 2020 when he suffered his second stroke.
Born Neville Livingstone in the Nine Mile district of Jamaica’s St. Ann Parish, Bunny became a musical icon revered the world over for his work with The Wailers, which included childhood friend Bob Marley and later addition, Peter Tosh. The then-trio soon added singer Junior Braithwaite and backup vocalists Beverley Kelso and Cherry and began releasing a string of international hits, which included “Simmer Down,” “Stir It Up,” “Is This Love,” “Jamming,” “Could You Be Loved,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” and “Redemption Song.”
Rolling Stone notes that while Marley and Tosh were the group’s principal songwriters, it was Wailer who provided the band with not just its name but also its unforgettable harmonies. The group was instrumental in bringing Jamaican music to the world, touring the UK with Johnny Cash in the early 1970s. Wailer left the group in 1973 after the group’s new producer Chris Blackwell sought to rebrand them as “Bob Marley’s backup singers.” Wailer embarked on his own successful solo career with Blackheart Man. Wailer eventually won three Best Reggae Album Grammys, in 1991, 1995, and 1997.