Sun | Sep 26, 2021

Letter of the Day | Bunny Wailer was manifestation of Trench Town’s soul

Published:Monday | March 8, 2021 | 12:08 AM
Bunny Wailer
Bunny Wailer


My neighbourhood in Trench Town was a cauldron of creativity in the 1960s. I recall in my walks in the community, it was ordinary to see Toots and Riley at Eighth Street, Bunny and/or Scully at Sixth Street, Alton Ellis and his sister Hortense at Fifth Street, Delroy Wilson at Third Street, and lower down near the area called ‘Federal’, a group consisting of many, pitching voices that were being tuned to harmony on the fly. In the group was a fellow everybody called Nesta, a tall man called Peter McIntosh, who had a fondness for coloured beach shirts and sunglasses. It was rumoured at the time to be so, because of his origin from Westmoreland. And there was another fellow who shared height with Nesta, who was called Bunny, or ‘Livi’.

The tall fellow was always opinionated; Nesta was always compromising; and Bunny had the aura of a sage who knew more than everyone else, and who posed with the look of a man who knew where everything was going. The others in the harmonising clan would just hang and go lockstep with the core trio’s direction.

My memories of Bunny was that of a singer who could sing but was cool with harmonizing which brought a shine to his countenance when the first,third and fifth notes were being sung correctly. Up to this day, my friends still maintain that the best harmonising version of the Wailers is the one led by Bunny, when Nesta went on a hiatus to the United States, on the song Dancing Shoes, when Bunny, Constantine ‘Vision’ Walker, and Peter McIntosh sang as the Wailers.

Singing in harmony always seem to be very important to Bunny as the Wailers emulated the Impressions and challenged the tight harmonies of other local groups of the day like Gaylads, Uniques, Paragons, and Techniques, among others.

Bunny was the last of the great trio, whose impact on Jamaica is yet to be understood fully. The Wailers were the manifestation of the soul and trials of Trench Town. They expressed in song and verse, telling the outsiders that within the enclave, there were unbroken spirits and people of promise, who could show the rest of us the way.

Go in peace, Mr Neville Livingstone, to join Mr Robert Nesta Marley, and Mr Peter McIntosh in that dreamland of harmony. Your work is done on earth, it was time to fly away home to join your friends to create the greatest harmonising Wailers in that land that you all talked about.