Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Legendary music producer 'Bunny Striker' Lee has died

Published:Wednesday | October 7, 2020 | 11:50 AM
Edward ‘Bunny Striker’ Lee Sr - File photo

Yasmine Peru, Senior Gleaner Writer

Edward ‘Bunny Striker’ Lee Sr, numbered among Jamaica’s most prolific and influential producers, passed away on Tuesday afternoon in hospital in Jamaica, his widow Annette Wong-Lee confirmed to The Gleaner.

The 79-year-old had been ailing for some time.

“The doctors said it was heart failure,” a grieving Wong-Lee said, adding that the family had spoken to an upbeat Lee twice that same morning.

“His son, Little Striker, had just left the hospital to get some food and also to give the medical staff time to change a catheter that had been giving him an infection. He called to find out if his father was back in his room and the nurse was crying. Then the doctor called and said come to the hospital immediately,” she related.

Lee Jr picked up his mother and a sibling and they all went to the hospital, only to hear that Striker Lee had died. 

Wong-Lee said that she and her children are devastated at how the events unfolded.

“On Monday, the doctors told us that Striker would come home by Wednesday. All his vitals were fine. Even though he has a nurse, Little Striker is always with him at the hospital. On Monday, he combed his father’s hair and the nurse said, ‘Mr Lee, yuh have a good son,’ and Striker said, ‘Yuh mean I have a great son.’ Little Striker is bawling. He can’t stop crying,” Wong-Lee shared.

“It’s so sudden. Even the doctors said they didn’t see this one coming.”

Musical history 

Lee, who is hailed for the integral role he played in introducing the reggae genre to the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, was born on August 23, 1941, and grew up in the Greenwich Farm area of Kingston.

A pioneer of the UK reggae market, Lee was instrumental in producing early dub music, working with his friend and dub pioneer King Tubby in the early 1970s.

He, along with Lee 'Scratch' Perry, broke the dominance of producers Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid.

According to his bio, Bunny Lee began his career working as a record plugger for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label in 1962, and then moved into producing records himself. 

His first hit was Roy Shirley’s Music Field in 1967 and within a year, hits by Lester Sterling and Stranger Cole, Derrick Morgan, Pat Kelly, and The Sensations established him as one of Jamaica’s top producers.

Between 1969 and 1972, he produced many classic hits, including Slim Smith’s Everybody Needs Love, Max Romeo‘s Wet Dream, Delroy Wilson‘s Better Must Come, Eric Donaldson‘s Cherry Oh Baby, and John Holt‘s Stick By Me.

The mid-1970s saw Lee working with his most successful singers, Johnny Clarke, Owen Gray and Cornell Campbell.

This era also saw the emergence of his trademark 'flying cymbal' sound, developed by drummer Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis on Johnny Clarke’s None Shall Escape The Judgement and Move Out Of Babylon.

His achievements have been logged in a British-made film, I Am the Gorgon – Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae.

In 2008, Lee was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government in recognition of his contribution to Jamaican music.

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