From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Bunny Wailer, also known as Bunny Livingston (born Neville O'Riley Livingston April 10, 1947 in Jamaica), is a singer songwriter and percussionist and was an original member of reggae group The Wailers along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. His father Thaddeus "Toddy" Livingston lived for some time with Bob Marley's mother Cedella Booker and had a daughter with her named Pearl Livingston.
As he was by some way the least forceful of the trio, he tended to sing lead vocals less often than Marley and Tosh in the early years, but when Bob Marley left Jamaica in 1966 for Delaware, to be replaced by Constantine "Dream" Walker, he began to record and sing lead on some of his own compositions, such as "Who Feels It Knows It", "I Stand Predominant" and "Sunday Morning". His music was very influenced by gospel and the soul of Curtis Mayfield. in 1967, he recorded "This Train", based on a gospel standard for the first time at Studio One.
As the Wailers moved from producer to producer in the late 1960s he continued to be underused as a writer and lead vocalist, although he sang lead on "Riding High", and on one verse of the Wailers cover of the Impressions "Keep On Moving", both produced by Lee Perry. By 1973, each of the three founding Wailers operated their own label, Marley with Tuff Gong, Tosh with H.I.M. Intel Diplo, and Bunny Wailer with Solomonic. He sang lead vocals on "Reincarnated Souls", the B-side of the Wailers first Island single of the new era, and on two tracks on the Wailers last trio LP, "Burnin'" , "Pass it On" (which had been cut a sound-system only dub plate five years earlier) and "Hallelujah Time". By now he was recording singles in his own right, cutting "Bide Up", "Arab Oil Weapon" and "Life Line" for his own label.
Bunny Wailer toured with the Wailers in England and the United States, but soon became reluctant to leave Jamaica. He and Tosh became more marginalized in the group as the Wailers became an international success, and attention was increasingly focused on Marley. Bunny subsequently left the Wailers to pursue a solo career, which continues in the present.
After leaving the Wailers, Bunny became more focused on his spiritual faith. He identified with the Rastafari movement, as did the other Wailers. He has also written much of his own material as well as re-recording a number of cuts from the Wailers catalogue. Bunny Wailer has recorded primarily in the roots style, in keeping with his often political and spiritual messages. The album Blackheart Man is a good example of his roots reggae style, while "Sings the Wailers" successfully reworks many of The Wailers songs with the backing of top Jamaican musicians, Sly and Robbie. He experimented with disco on his album 'Hook Line & Sinker'. He has also had success recording in the typically apolitical, more pop dancehall style. He has outlived his contemporaries in a culture where death by violence is commonplace.
Today, Bunny resides in Kingston and on a farm located in the interior of Jamaica (Saint Thomas), according to Bob Marley's official website. Bunny Wailer and Beverley Kelso are the only surviving members of the original Wailers.
- Blackheart Man, 1976
- Protest, 1977
- Struggle, 1978
- Dubd'sco, 1978
- In I Father's House, 1979
- Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley
- Sings the Wailers
- Crucial Roots Classics
- Hook Line & Sinker
- Dance Massive
- Roots Radics Rockers Reggae
- Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley
- Rule Dance Hall
- Just be Nice
- Rootsman Skanking 1987
- Liberation 1989
- Rock and Groove