KINGSTON, Jamaica – Neville “Bunny Wailer” Livingston, one of two survivors of the Wailing Wailers, got a rousing ovation when he was presented with a citation by organizers of Tribute to The Greats, an annual awards show that took place July 27 in Kingston, Jamaica.
The legendary group, which included Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, were honored for their contribution to the development of Jamaican music, at Curphey Place.
As cameras flashed, the 71-year-old Wailer managed a smiled, cheered by the audience which included flag-waving Rastafarians.
Wailer’s movement is significantly restricted by a stroke he suffered last October. But he was determined to attend the function which also recognized the work of The Mighty Diamonds, guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, singer/guitarist Charmaine Lemonious, singer Gem Myers, broadcaster Norma Brown Bell and music collector and sound system operator Louis Davis.
“It’s a great feeling seeing him here, really great. Bunny Wailer is a living legend,” said Kingsley Goodison, who started Tribute to The Greats 22 years ago.
Beverley Kelso is the other survivor of the original Wailing Wailers. She lives in the United States.
Of the other members, Marley died in 1981; Tosh in 1987; Junior Braithwaite in 1999 and Cherry Smith in 2008.
The Wailing Wailers were formed in Trench Town in 1963 and originally recorded for producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd. Their initial hit songs were done in the ska era and included hits like Simmer Down, Lonesome Feeling, One Love, and It Hurts to Be Alone.
The group whittled to a trio by the late 1960s when they became The Wailers. Marley, Tosh and Wailer were leading figures for reggae, a sensational new sound that championed Rastafari.
After two critically-acclaimed albums, (Catch A Fire and Burnin’) for Island Records, Tosh and Wailer left the group for solo careers in late 1973.
Like the Wailers, The Mighty Diamonds’ roots are in Trench Town. Founded in 1969, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary; their classic songs are I Need A Roof, Right Time and Pass the Kutchie.
Smith, 64, is a prolific musician who has recorded and toured with Marley, Wailer, Burning Spear, Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill.
Other awardees included former Trojan Records marketing executive Anthony “Chips” Richards and pioneer singer Owen Gray..