Bunny Wailer (Neville O’Riley Livingston) passed away last week. Together with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, he made up the triumvirate that the music world knew as The Wailers. He had 73 years and outlived his other two band mates by a long shot. Bunny was a singer and a percussionist.
If you want to read about this threesome, I recommend a book entitled The Natural Mystics by Colin Grant, a Londoner of Jamaican parents. Colin Grant has also written an interesting biography of Marcus Garvey called Negro with a Hat. In The Natural Mystics, the author explores the world that The Wailers came from, the harsh poverty of Trench Town, the Obeahs (witchdoctors) of Rastafarianism, together with a colorful cast of rude boys, musicians, political activists, legitimate promoters and producers, carneys, and the magic of being in the right place at the right time with something to say and sing about. Bunny Wailer was an integral part of that seminal sound. He was also the only Wailer to spend serious time in the slammer, eighteen months for the unholy crime of ganja possession. Of that experience, he was quoted as saying, “You have to go to hell to know what the devil’s about.”
Bunny Wailer was a not too shabby cricketer. At the Richmond Prison Farm, three inmates were allowed to be on the team representing the prison. The rest of the side was made up of screws and officials. Bunny regularly padded up to bat for the jail squad and was a crowd favorite. So here’s a short video clip of Bunny Wailer holding forth on the game of cricket. He can and should be remembered as being a founding member of The Wailin’ Wailers, the musician who brought us the album Blackheart Man, a true voice against the inequities of colonialism, and finally the last man standing. For me, his eloquence on cricket and what it meant to the oppressed people of the West Indies was worth it alone. He put these words together while chasing away the backyard dog. Check it out. Rest In Peace, Bunny Wailer.