The western world first noticed reggae in 1974, via Eric Clapton's cover of I Shot The Sheriff, with audiences soon finding the original, by Bob Marley and The Wailers. This new sound had been brewing in Jamaica since the early 1960s, when The Wailers had their first hit - Simmer Down - a lively appeal for calm in their home town, Kingston.
The Wailers were Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Neville Livingston. Reggae pioneers, proud Rasta men, they won fans and inspired musicians all over the world. Neville became known as Bunny Wailer - he and Tosh left the band just before Bob Marley broke through in England and became a global star.
Bob Marley died in 1981, Peter Tosh in 1987. And now, Bunny Wailer has gone. He was 73. Bunny helped establish his country’s most influential band, The Wailers, who are to reggae what the Beatles are to rock and pop.
Bunny spoke in a resonant deep voice, but he sang the sweet high harmonies you hear on early Wailers records. His solo work went deep into the beliefs that had shaped The Wailers music – and he won the best reggae album Grammy award three times. The world is a better place for the life and music of Bunny Wailer.
Listen to my ABC Radio tribute to Bunny Wailer
Richard is a writer, podcaster, radio and TV broadcaster, an editor, and a lover of music. He tells the stories of how great songs are made, and of the people who make them.