Following the news of his passing, reggae fans across the diaspora have been celebrating Bunny Wailer as a legendary singer and percussionist.
However, Wailer was also a renowned songwriter. During his time as a member of the reggae group The Wailers, alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer was credited as the writer of “Love and Affection” (1965) and “Dreamland” (1971), recorded by the group.
But perhaps Wailer’s biggest songwriter credit is “Electric Boogie”, which was re-recorded by “the queen of reggae”, Marcia Griffiths.
The hit song was written and originally recorded by Bunny Wailer in 1976. At the time, Wailer was well established as a reggae singer and Marcia Griffiths was a member of the I Threes, a trio of backup singers, which supported Bob Marley and The Wailers.
In 1983, she released her re-recording of the “Electric Boogie” via Island Records. This version became a minor hit for Griffiths, but a remixed version featured on her album Carousel became an international hit in 1990.
It was this version that made the Electric Slide, a line dance, an international dance craze. The song reached number 51 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it her most successful single. It is currently the highest-selling single by a female reggae singer of all time.
The song and dance have since become a celebratory staple, popular at weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and other special occasions around the world.
According to Essence Magazine, the song changed how Black people around the world celebrate events, specifically weddings.
“”The Electric Boogie” became one of the biggest dance crazes of the disco era even though it was never really a disco song. And now the dance has not only become a mainstay at Black weddings, but also at Black barbeques, Black baby showers, and even Black funerals. We just can’t seem to get enough of it,” the magazine stated.
Bunny Wailer died in Kingston on March 2 at the age of 73.