The founding member of the Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh died Tuesday morning in Jamaica.

By Nick Romano
March 02, 2021 at 01:16 PM EST
Bunny Wailer
Credit: David Corio/Redferns

Bunny Wailer, a giant within the reggae music community and a founding member of the Wailers, died Tuesday morning at the Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 73.

Wailer's manager confirmed the news to the Jamaica Observer, saying, "Yes. He died about 8:00 this morning. I'm still right here with him."

A representative for Wailer didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment, but the Wailers released a statement on the band's official Facebook page.

"With great sadness, we announce the loss of our beloved brother NEVILLE 'BUNNY WAILER' LIVINGSTON," the statement reads. "His life was a blessing and his memories remain a treasure, loved beyond words and missed beyond measures. You will never be forgotten.. sleep well king."

A cause of death was not given, though Wailer has been in and out of the hospital since suffering his second stroke in 2020.

Born Neville Livingston on April 10, 1947 in Jamaica's St. Ann Parish, Wailer befriended Bob Marley as a child. Together with Peter Tosh, they formed the Wailing Wailers in 1963, and the group would eventually evolve into the Wailers. Though he didn't sing lead vocals as often as Marley, Wailer did so after Marley relocated to Delaware in the U.S. Some of Wailer's original compositions include "Who Feels It Knows It," "I Stand Predominant," and "Sunday Morning."

In 2016, Wailer told Afropop in an interview, "The Wailers are responsible for the Wailers' sound. Bob, Peter, and myself: We are totally responsible for the Wailers' sound, and what the Wailers brought to the world, and left as a legacy."

Wailer's solo albums include 1976's Blackheart Man and 1981's Rock 'n' Groove. "Dreamland," a cover of El Tempos' "My Dream Island," became a signature song for the musician when he released it on Blackheart Man. He later earned three Grammy Awards for Best Reggae Album with 1990's Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley, 1994's Crucial! Roots Classics, and 1995's Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley's 50th Anniversary.

In October 2017, Wailer was awarded the Order of Merit, Jamaica's third-highest national award after the Order of National Hero and the Order of the Nation.

Wailer was the last surviving member of that original trio. Marley died of cancer in 1981, and Tosh was killed at his St. Andrew home in 1987.

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