Saturday 18 November, 2017

Bunny Wailer gets Jamaican Order of Merit

Neville O’Reilly Livingstone, popularly known as ‘Bunny Wailer’, collects his award from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at King's House on Monday. (PHOTOS: Llewellyn Wynter)

Neville O’Reilly Livingstone, popularly known as ‘Bunny Wailer’, collects his award from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at King's House on Monday. (PHOTOS: Llewellyn Wynter)

The lone front-line surviving member of the iconic reggae group, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Neville O’Reilly Livingstone, popularly known as ‘Bunny Wailer’, ‘Bunny Livingstone’ and most affectionately as ‘Jah B’, has been conferred with the Jamaican Order of Merit (OM) for his contribution to popular music.

Bunny Wailer has long been a stand-out figure on both local and international reggae stages.

Born in 1947, ‘Jah B’ is a singer, songwriter and percussionist, who, along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, were members of the Wailers.

A three-time Grammy award winner, he is considered one of the long-time standard-bearers of reggae music.

A firebrand advocate of both reggae music and the Rastafari religion, Bunny Wailer proudly marched up to accept his award from Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, at Kings House at the head of Monday’s presentation of the annual national awards.

Emerging from the community of Nine Mile in St Ann, where he met Bob Marley as toddlers, and through adult relatives around them and later Peter Tosh, an intertwined family connection developed, with Livingstone’s father producing a child with Marley’s mother, and Tosh producing a son with a sister of Bunny Wailer.

Despite his extensive role with the Wailers, Bunny has carved out an impressive solo career as primarily a ‘roots’ artiste in keeping with his strong political and spiritual messages. His album ‘Blackheart Man’ has been cited as a prime example of his hard-hitting roots reggae style of music.

After leaving the Wailers, he noticeably experimented with disco on an album ‘Hook Line & Sinker’.

With the backing of music industry stalwarts like instrumentalists, Sly and Robbie, and producers like Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, and later, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Bunny Wailer delivered classics like ‘Dancing Shoes’.

He won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991, for the album ‘Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley’; in 1995 for ‘Crucial! Roots Classics’; and in 1997 for ‘Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley's 50th Anniversary (RAS)’.

He was also featured among a number of Jamaicans on the album ‘True Love’ by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004, for Best Reggae Album.