He had been in hospital since July, after suffering a stroke
Bunny Wailer, co-founder of The Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, has died at the age of 73. The cause of his death has not been announced, but he is known to have been in hospital following a stroke last july.
Born Neville O'Riley Livingston on 10 April 1947, Bunny Wailer became friends with Bob Marley when the two were still just toddlers. By the time they were in their mid-teens, they had formed the singing group The Wailing Wailers along with Peter Tosh and, initially, Junior Braithwaite and Beverley Kelso – although the latter two had long since departed by the time the group, who changed their name first to simply The Wailers and then Bob Marley & The Wailers, began to rack up international hits in the early 70s.
Although The Wailers would be one of the main driving forces that propelled the then-nascent reggae genre onto the international stage, Wailer felt he and Tosh were being marginalised and he left the group in 1974, almost at the height of their success. He then launched a solo career, recording over 25 solo albums – including 1976's critically acclaimed debut Blackheart Man, much of which was inspired by his experiences during a 1967 prison sentence for possssion of marijuana – and running the influential Solomonic label. Over the years, his output spanned roots, dancehall, dub and even (on 1982's Hook Line & Sinker album) soul, funk and rap.
Wailer won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album three times (in 1990, 1994 and 1996), and in 2017 he was awarded Jamaica's Order of Merit. Speaking today, Jamaican prime minister called his death “a great loss for Jamaica and for regggae”.