Wailer’s manager Maxine Stowe and Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia Grange confirmed that Wailer died on Tuesday (2 March) at the Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica (per BBC News). No cause of death has been disclosed.
Born Neville Livingstone, Wailer found international fame as part of the Wailers trio, alongside Marley and Peter Tosh.
Wailer, who had been friends with Marley since childhood, performed alongside the global icon on albums such as Catch a Fire and Burnin’, before embarking on a solo career in 1974.
His solo records include 1976’s Blackheart Man, and 1981’s Rock ‘n’ Groove, with “Cool Runnings”, “Crucial” and “Bald Head Jesus” among his best-known songs.
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In 2017, Wailer was awarded Jamaica’s fourth highest honour, the Order of Merit, and was recognised with a Reggae Gold Award in February 2019.
Wailer won three Grammy awards across his career, for Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley in 1991, Crucial! Roots Classics in 1995 and Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary in 1997. All were in the category of Best Reggae Album.
Tributes to the artist have already flooded in across social media, with fans describing the artist as a “legend”.
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea wrote: “Oh man, god bless Bunny Wailer. What a true rocker and noble man. I love him.”
Wailer had been the last surviving member of the original Wailers, after Marley and Tosh died in 1981 and 1987, respectively.