KINGSTON, Jamaica (CelebrityAccess) — Neville O’Riley Livingston, known professionally as Bunny Wailer, and the last founding member of the legendary reggae group The Wailers, has died. He was 73.
According to the Associated Press, he died on March 2nd at Andrews Memorial Hospital in Jamaica from complications of a stroke he suffered in July.
“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 social media post. “Bunny was a good, conscious Jamaican brethren.”
Livingston partnered with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh to found the group that would eventually become The Wailers in 1963, performing variously as The Teenagers, the Wailing Rudeboys, the Wailing Wailers before finally simplifying the name.
The next year, The Wailers topped the Jamaican charts with “Simmer Down” and followed it up with a string of hits that included “Trenchtown Rock”, “Nice Time”, “War”, “Stir It Up” and “Get Up, Stand Up”
Their international breakthrough came in 1974 with the release of the seminal “Catch a Fire” which led to The Wailers mounting tours in both the UK and the U.S.
However, that same year, both Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer stepped away from the group over concerns about reconciling the life of touring musicians with their Rastafarian beliefs.
Following his exit from the group, Livingston launched a solo career and experimented with a variety of musical styles, including funk and disco.
In 1994, he 1991 for the album Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley, and followed it up in 1995, winning the Grammy for Crucial! Roots Classics, and again in 1997 for Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary.
In October 2017, he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Jamaican government, one of the nation’s highest honors.