Bunny Wailer cannot die, he has transitioned.” (Asadenaki Wailer)
In shock and dismay, the world has to face the passing of Neville O’Riley Livingston, OM, better known as Bunny Wailer. The last member of the original Wailers has died this morning in the Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, as Jamaica’s Culture Minister Olivia Grange confirmed according to The Caribbean National Weekly. His son, Abijah Asadenaki Livingston, revealed in a Facebook-post that Bunny had been ailing for some time: “due to the stress of Jean Watt aka Sis Jean’s disappearance, my father suffered a second stroke in July 2020 and has since been medically incapacitated.”
It is near impossible to imagine the contemporary Reggae music world without this highly talented, sprightly and deeply spiritual man who was not only a singer and songwriter but also a skilled guitarist and percussionist, successful solo artist, passionate sportsman and loving father. Growing up with his father in Nine Mile (St. Ann Parish), it is there that he met Robert Nesta Marley while both were still children. They even became step-brothers when Bunny’s father Thaddeus and Bob’s mother Cedella moved in as a couple and had a daughter together, Pearl. It is often said that Bunny taught Bob to sing harmonies, and their musical journey started in these childhood days. When Peter Tosh joined them in 1963, the well-known history of The Wailing Wailers unfolded.
Ten years, many tours and countless hits later, Bunny decided to leave the Wailers to pursue his solo career. His debut album Blackheart Man (released 1976) remains a big success until today, among them his signature tune Dreamland, and subsequent works earned him three Grammys: Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley (1991), Crucial! Roots Classics (1995) and Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary (1997). His musical and social impact was awarded in 2012 when he received Jamaica’s fifth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica, and again in 2017, when he was awarded the Order of Merit, the nation’s fourth-highest honour. His legacy was acknowledged and promoted by his inner family circle, most noteworthy by his son Asadenaki, who was instrumental in organizing The Wailers’ Museum as well as The Wailers Statue launch and Bunny’s annual Earth-Strong Celebrations.
In the current context, it is important to note that Asadenaki Wailer today [March 2, 2021] explicitly states in a lengthy Facebook post that Maxine Stowe, who, according to some sources is cited as Bunny Wailer’s manager, has no right to act as such: “I, Abijah Asadenaki Livingston, the son of the Hon. Neville “Bunny Wailer” Livingston, hereby publicly denounce all dealings with Maxine Stowe who functions as my father’s most recent manager.”, so media houses and music publishers are advised to turn to Mr. Livingston’s family for any inquiries.
Born April 10th 1947, Bunny Livingston Wailer would have turned 74 next month. He is rememberd by friends, fans and family alike for his humble personality, unique voice and exceptional spirit.
UPDATE March 3, 2021: BUNNY WAILER’S CHILDREN EXPRESS GRATITUDE FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT
“Our lives changed on March 2, 2021 with the passing of our “Don Dada”. Bunny Wailer as he is known to the world was our beloved father, grandfather, brother, and friend to our family. We, his children, are very appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from you-our extended family.
Jah B was larger than his small stature and was a tower of strength to us throughout our lives. We are honoured and happy that we were able to be there for him as he has been for us when he needed us. He has left us but remains with us through his works, the values he instilled as a father, and for that, we give thanks.
Jah B, Don Dada, Black Heart Man – Bunny Wailer, Neville O’Riley Livingston – we will see you in “that Dreamland”.
We will keep you informed of our plans as we navigate this difficult period so you too can celebrate him.”
Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange: “At the request of the family, I announce with deepest sadness, the passing of the patriarch, brother, friend and Jamaican music icon, the great Bunny Wailer. Bunny Wailer, whose given name is Neville O’Riley Livingstone, passed away at 9am today at Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston. He had been in hospital since December 2020. We mourn the passing of this outstanding singer, songwriter and percussionist and celebrate his life and many accomplishments. We remain grateful for the role that Bunny Wailer played in the development and popularity of Reggae music across the world. We remember with great pride how Bunny, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, took Reggae music to the four corners of the earth. Today, the last surviving Wailer has passed.
His son Abijah said to me this morning that ‘Bunny Wailer cannot die, he has transitioned’. What Bunny Wailer has done for Reggae, as one of the pioneers and standard-bearers of our country’s music, lives on. Let us hold dear Bunny’s music, his memory and his family. I ask that you remember his family, including his wider Reggae family, in your prayers at this time.”
Ziggy Marley: “What your hands do, it’s your own eyes that have seen so won’t you judge your actions to make sure the results are clean… be not selfish in your doings, pass it on” Bunny Wailer Livingston. As we share memories we say a blessed spiritual journey on Jah B. Wailers live on. Peter, Bob and Bunny.”
Capleton: “Condolence to the family of the great legend Bunny Wailer. We give thanks for all your musical contributions. Rest In Power.”
Gramps Morgan: “A VERY SAD DAY for our Reggae World #bunnywailer our legendary Reggae Icon has passed away #wailersforever Condolences to his entire family this one RUFF!!!”
Shaggy: “It’s clear that 2021 will not be a better year than 2020, this is one of the lowest moments in the history of our culture. Bunny Livingston aka Bunny Wailer, founding member and sole survivor of the trio The Wailers, is no longer with us. This is a great loss for reggae, the Jamaican people and Reggae fans around the world. You have made us proud king, rest well! Condolences to the family. R.I.P. Bunny… your music will forever wail!!!
Micah Shemaiah: “Another Dread creator has gone, Blessings to the family and mi Bredda Asadenaki. Gwaan hold firm lion heart the work continues. More and more I see how imperative it is for I N I to preserve this wealth of knowledge and foundation given by the elders. Respect to the Legendary Wailer.”
Xana Romeo: “The reggae community lost a pillar of its foundation today. Condolences to the Wailer family. (…)”
EarthKry: “Rest in Powers the Great Bunny Wailer. We will continue the great works. Thanks for the foundation you have layed. Hail Bob and uncle Peter fi we!”
David “Ram Jam” Rodigan: “It is with a heavy heart that I have just learned of the passing of my long time friend and music maestro, Bunny Wailer. He was the sole surviving member of the greatest Reggae trio and band the world has ever known, The Wailers. An iconic figure who’s solo career resulted in one of the most brilliant and inspiring albums in the entire Reggae lexicon…’Blackheart Man’. His contribution to Jamaican music across the past 60 years is immeasurable. May his soul rest in peace knowing that he leaves us with a truly remarkable repertoire; if there’s one particular song that epitomises him and what he stood for it is ‘Pass It On’.”