Reggae legend Bunny Wailer died this past week. Born Neville O’Riley Livingston on April 10, 1947 in Kingston, Jamaica, Wailer and Bob Marley were childhood friends and would go on to found The Wailing Wailers with Peter Tosh in 1963. At first, the group played ska music but were on the vanguard of a ska offshoot dubbed reggae, which kept the same rhythm but slowed down the tempo.
The group released their self-titled debut, The Wailing Wailers, in 1965 before settling on The Wailers as their name. Livingston contributed vocals and percussion to the reggae pioneers’ subsequent albums including 1970’s Soul Rebels and the band’s first two Island Record releases Catch A Fire and Burnin’, both arriving in 1973. But that same year, Livingston left The Wailers to pursue a solo career. It was around this time he adopted the name Bunny but was also known as Jah B.
In 1976, Bunny released his landmark album, Blackheart Man, essential listening in the reggae canon. Bunny continued to record and tour in the following decades. 1986 saw Wailer releasing the album, Rootsman Skanking, followed by Rule Dancehall in 1987. In August of that year, Bunny performed at Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica. The set included songs from both the aforementioned albums including opener “Roots Man Skanking” and “Cool Runnings” as well as Rule Dancehall’s “Jolly Session,” “Camouflage” and set closer “Haughty Tempo.”
To remember Bunny Wailer, watch his performance at Reggae Sunsplash in 1987 below via the JamBase Live Video Archive:
Set: Roots Man Skanking, Cool Runnings, Ram Dancehall, Jolly Session, Camouflage, Haughty Tempo