Check out a tribute article about Bunny Wailer, that we wrote for the Perfect Sound Forever e-zine by clicking here.

The Life Of Bunny Wailer

  Bunny Wailer is the most underrated member of the Wailers. But just by listening to one of his albums, or even one of his songs, one can tell that Bunny is just as great as Bob Marley or Peter Tosh.

  Bunny was born, Neville Livingstone, on April 10, 1947 in Jamaica. He met up with Bob Marley in grade school, and a life-long friendship was born. Bob's mother (Cedella Booker) and Bunny's dad (Toddy Livingstone) also moved in together, making Bob and Bunny step-brothers. Bob released his first singles in 1962 for producer Leslie Kong, and in 1963, the Wailing Wailers formed, with Bob, Peter Tosh, Beverly Kelso, Junior Braithwaite, Cherry Smith, and of course Bunny Wailer. Their first single together was the classic "Simmer Down" for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label. Soon though, Beverly, Junior, and Cherry were all gone from the group, leaving only Bob, Bunny and Peter.

  In 1966, Bob left for Delaware to make enough money to form his own record label, with Constantine "Dream Vision" Walker (Rita's cousin) replacing Bob on lead. Bob returned to Jamaica in 1967, reformed the band (Bob, Bunny, and Peter), formed a new label, Wail'N'Soul'M, and renamed the band, the Wailers.

  In June of 1967, Bunny was arrested for possession of ganja (he was carrying none at the time), and served one year and two months in prison, until September 1968. In 1970, the Wailers joined up again with Bob's former producer Leslie Kong, to release an album's worth of songs, such songs as "Soon Come", "Caution", and "Do It Twice". Also in 1970, the Wailers met up with producer/performer Lee Perry. This period is arguably the Wailers best material, and produced such classics as, "Duppy Conqueror", "Mr. Brown", and "Man To Man (Who The Cap Fit)", and many others. This relationship with Perry soon deteriorated, and the Wailers and Perry split ways, but not before picking up Perry's studio band (The Upsetters). Now the Wailers consisted of Bob, Bunny, Peter, and the Barrett brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man". Other members of the Upsetters (Glen Adams and Alva Lewis) came and went, but the Barrett brothers, Bob, Peter, and Bunny were the heart of the band. During the period of 1967 to 1972, the Bob, Bunny, and Peter, along with Bob's wife Rita, recorded and composed songs for Johnny Nash's record company, JAD Records.

  In 1972, Bunny Wailer also forms his own Solomonic label, releasing "Search For Love" as his first single. The Wailers were then signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records label in 1972, with the help of Danny Sims (of JAD Records). In December of 1972, the Wailers released "Catch A Fire" in the UK to critical acclaim. The album featured new and old material. In early 1973, the album was released worldwide, and the Wailers then went on a lengthy tour of Europe in May of that year. The Wailers returned back to Jamaica, getting ready to do a tour of the United States. However, Bunny refused to tour for various reasons, and was replaced by the Wailers old mentor and vocal coach from the Studio One days, Joe Higgs. The tour lasted from June to August, and the Wailers went back to Jamaica to record their second album (along with Bunny) for Island Records, "Burnin'". Shortly after the release of Burnin', Bunny quit the band to pursue a solo career, but the rest of the band did a few dates in America and Canada in October of '73, and in mid-November.

  Around December of 1973 more tensions grew within the band, and Peter Tosh was the next to leave. He worked on a solo album, "Legalize It", which was released in 1976. In 1974, Bob reformed the band under the heading, "Bob Marley & The Wailers" (which was now minus Bunny and Peter), whom he replaced with a female trio, known as the I-Threes (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths) and released his first solo album in 1974, "Natty Dread". Peter Tosh also formed his own label in 1974, calling it Intel-Diplo H.I.M. which stood for Intelligent Diplomat for His Imperial Majesty.

  Bunny released his first solo album, "Blackheart Man" in 1976, with both Bob and Peter featured on it. Fans now knew that Bunny wasn't just a back-up singer, but could stand on his own as lead vocalist. Year after year Bunny consistently released album after album. There was talk of a Wailers reunion, with Bob, Bunny and Peter, but it never took place, because Bob died of cancer in May of 1981. After this Bunny devoted his career to furthering Bob's message to the world. Then in 1984, Bunny joined Peter, along with Junior Braithwaite and Vision Walker (Rita Marley's cousin and former Wailer), to record a new Wailers album at Bob's Tuff Gong studio, using Bob's voice, which had been on two-track tapes recorded from 1968 to 1971. This album was to reclaim "the Wailers' legacy". The album was put on hiatus in 1987, due to the assassination of Peter Tosh. Finally in 1993 though, due to Bunny's hard work, the album was released and entitled, "The Never Ending Wailers". Bunny also devoted his career to furthering Bob's and Peter's message.

  Bunny's solo albums have been the source for many Wailers' first, by releasing a dub album (Dub Disco Volumes 1 & 2), a dancehall album (Rule Dance Hall and Dance Massive), and a rap-reggae album (Just Be Nice).

  Usually, when artists release an album, they go on a massive tour to promote it, but this was not the case with Bunny. He only did scattered shows in Jamaica, but finally did tour the United States in 1986. Today, Bunny still doesn't tour all that much, but when he does, his shows are magnificent! Bunny's hard work has been rewarded by winning 3 Grammy awards.

  On April 10, Bunny will celebrate his 50th Birthday. He has been in the music business for over 30 years, and as each year goes on, he only gets better and better. The Wailers' music lives on...

      - (c) 1997 by Seth & Daniel Nelson

Bunny's Solo Albums

The above pictures are only a sampling of Bunny's albums, because in addition to these, he released several other of the above albums under different titles, and only released on his Solomonic label in Jamaica. For a complete discography of Bunny (and all the Wailers!) visit the WWWailers Discography by clicking here.

Bunny On Lead

Although Bob Marley can be heard singing on the majority of Wailers tracks, Bunny also did his share of singing lead. Here are some of those songs, where Bunny sings the lead:

o Diamond Baby (aka Linger You Linger)

o Let Him Go

o What Am I Supposed To Do?

o Rolling Stone

o Dreamland

o Brain Washing

o Riding High

o Mr. Brown (Bunny does eerie ghost voice in beginning)

o Pass It On

o Hallelujah Time

o Never Ending Wailers Album (Bunny leads on almost every song)

Check out a tribute article about Bunny Wailer, that we wrote for the Perfect Sound Forever e-zine by clicking here.

Hope you enjoyed this special Bunny Wailer issue! Tell us what you think by e-mailing us here.