Bunny Lee, RIP – reggae legend & dub pioneer was 79
While mourning the deaths of Eddie Van Halen and Johnny Nash, we've just sadly learned of the passing of legendary reggae/dub producer Bunny Lee. NME points to Jamaican broadcaster Clinton Lindsay, who revealed that Lee had been battling kidney problems for the past few months and had been in and out of hospitals, though cause of death is not yet known. He was 79.
Born Edward O'Sullivan Lee in 1941, Lee grew up in Kingston and began his music career working as a record plugger for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label in 1962, before going on to start his own Lee's label and produce songs throughout the next few decades for Max Romeo, John Holt, Derrick Morgan, Delroy Wilson, Eric Donaldson, Johnny Clarke, U-Roy, Dr Alimantado, Tapper Zukie, Beenie Man, and much more.
For his work alongside fellow producer King Tubby and backing band The Aggrovators in the 1970s, Lee became known as one of the pioneers of dub music.
BBC 1Xtra reggae DJ David Rodigan wrote, "The Reggae world has lost another iconic figure; Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee was unquestionably one of the most charismatic and inspirational record producers in Jamaican music with a phenomenal catalogue of hits. He drove the music forward across the decades & will be sorely missed."
UB40's Robin Campbell wrote:
Also known as “Striker” and the Gorgon, one of the greatest reggae producers ever, his early work including artists like Slim Smith, Derrick Morgan, Pat Kelly and Stranger Cole.
He went on to rival the early dominance of the Studio One and Treasure Isle labels with hits such as Delroy Wilson’s “Better Must Come”, Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby”, John Holt’s “Stick By Me” and Max Romeo’s “Wet Dream”.
He then became, with his friend King Tubby and then Prince Jammy, the leading Dub producers of the early 70’s.
He also worked with almost every reggae deejay in the late 70’s....all without having his own studio.
One of the most prolific and successful producers, of Reggae, Dub and Dancehall, your music lives on,
Robin Campbell UB40.
Trojan Records wrote, "Jamaican music giant, Bunny Lee, has very sadly passed away. Bunny was massively influential in shaping Jamaican music, starting as a record plugger in the 60’s, then, as a pioneering producer, from the rock steady era through to the dancehall years of the 1980’s."
A 1982 episode of Channel 4's documentary series Deep Roots was dedicated to Lee's work. Watch that, listen to some of his productions, and read a few more tributes below...