The last surviving member of the original Wailers was 73
Bunny Wailer, the last surviving founding member of the legendary group The Wailers, died on Tuesday in his native Jamaica. He was 73.
Born Neville Livingston, Bunny formed The Wailers in 1963 with childhood friends Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in Kingston, and now reunites with them in Heaven. After leaving The Wailers in 1973 following the release of the group’s studio masterpiece Burnin’, Bunny would go onto forge a successful solo career with over 30 albums to his name, though the majority of them are sadly out of print.
“Bunny Wailer, from Kingston Jamaica, real name Neville O’Riley Livingston has passed away, aged 73, in hospital where he had been since suffering a stroke in 2020,” wrote Robin Campbell of UB40 on the band’s Facebook page. “He was a founder and the last surviving member of the world famous vocal trio The Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. After finding international success with their first two albums, Catch A Fire and Burnin’, Bunny left to go solo and enjoyed further success and a long career earning three Grammys and being awarded Jamaica’s Order of Merit in 2017. Rest easy Bunny, your music lives forever.”
Campbell’s words join a chorus of luminaries from reggae and beyond expressing their sadness over the news of Wailer’s passing on their socials, including the estates of Peter Tosh and Bob Marley as well as current Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Do yourself a favor and listen to some Bunny tonight. All three of these conquering lions from The Wailers–Bob, Peter and Bunny–were all equally powerful lights of creativity, inspiration and a love and respect for The Almighty, whoever that may be for you. Livingston’s death, coming a week after losing fellow reggae legend U-Roy, is heavy on our hearts. But listening to the positivity in his music and the message of love and resistance will no doubt fill that heart with joy and gratitude Bunny left us with so much music to rediscover.
Rest easy, Mr. Livingston.
AUDIO: Bunny Wailer Roots Radics Rockers Reggae (full album)
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AUDIO: Bunny Wailer Rock ‘N’ Groove (full album)
AUDIO: Bunny Wailer Struggle (full album)
AUDIO: Bunny Wailer Liberation (full album)
VIDEO: Bunny Wailer at Madison Square Garden 1986