Bunny Wailer book - Old Fire Stick

Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 20:20:56 -0600 (MDT)
From: Papa Pilgrim <pilgrim@xmission.com>
Subject: NEWS: Demystifying another Reggae Great (fwd) Sender: owner-raw@po.databack.com

forwarded from rmr

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Newsgroups: rec.music.reggae
Subject: NEWS: Demystifying another Reggae Great

Demystifying another Reggae Great

KINGSTON, (Sep. 22) IPS - Unlike Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, his colleagues in the Wailers, Bunny Wailer is known as a man of few words, but a long-awaited autobiography on one of reggae's moodiest performers is likely to clear up the mystery that has shrouded his career.

"Old Fire Sticks," the autobiography of Neville Livingston -- known worldwide as Bunny Wailer or Jah B -- is reportedly in its final stages, according to Roger Steffens, co-author of the book.

"With Peter and Bob no longer with us, the true history (of the Wailers) resides solely in the brain of Bunny," said Steffens. "Luckily for all true Wailers fans, Bunny tells everything about their history together."

While no completion date has been set for "Old Fire Sticks," Steffens disclosed that work on the book is winding down after nearly 10 years.

"It is in the final stages, but there is no release date," said Steffens. "There will have to be several weeks of working with Bunny before we can submit to publishers."

"Old Fire Sticks" is built around 64 hours of interviews Steffens and fellow reggae historian Leroy Jodie Pierson conducted with Wailer, now 52, back in 1990 in Kingston. Steffens revealed that those discussions have been transformed into an 1,800-page transcript.

Steffens, whose Los Angeles archives contain the biggest collection of Wailers memorabilia in the world, has written extensively on reggae's best known group but has a special affinity for the Wailer project, having written liner notes for several of the singer's albums.

Pierson is also known for his work in the blues scene in the United States. After years of studying the blues, he discovered reggae, which he has researched since 1980.

Together, Steffens and Pierson have written a book the former believes will shed new light on Wailer, whose controversial antics have made him one of reggae's enigmatic figures.

Marley, who died in 1981 from cancer, has been the subject of much documentation through books and visual programs. The compilation "Legend" album, which showcases some of his most potent songs, recently topped sales of 10 million units.

Tosh was murdered in 1987 at his Kingston home. The most outspoken and controversial of the trio, his career has been enjoying new life in recent years, thanks to the re-issuing of albums such as "Equal Rights" and "Legalize It."

In August, "Red X," the documentary on his life, was aired on VH1, the popular American cable television channel.

Besides critically-acclaimed albums like "Blackheart Man" and "Rock 'n Groove," not much is known of Bunny outside music circles.

Like Tosh and Marley, he was born in rural Jamaica but moved to Kingston before he was a teenager.

Wailer and Marley lived in the same tenement as boys and by the time they were teenagers in the early 1960s, they had met the gangly Tosh and formed the Wailers which was to have a string of hit songs as a ska group.

Following the release of "Burning," the group's second album for Island Records, Wailer and Tosh left for solo careers.

Wailer refused to tour. But it was those tours that earned Marley and Tosh strong followings in Europe, Asia and to a lesser extent, the United States.

Instead of touring, Wailer released a host of strong albums and songs that have made him a cult figure internationally. But Wailer has never been far from controversy.

Critics have blasted him for exploiting Marley's name by releasing two albums of Marley songs since his colleague's death. Both have won Grammy Awards.

In 1990, he was unceremoniously booed from the stage of a Kingston show, an incident that made international headlines. In 1998, he was sued by the promoters of the Toronto Jazz Festival for failing to perform even though he was paid prior to the event.

Wailer has also had a long-running feud with the Marley estate over royalties from merchandise from Tuff Gong, the company he started with Tosh and Marley. This matter was resolved recently when he was awarded $2 million in royalties by the company handling Tuff Gong's affairs.

As interest in his work continues to mount, Wailer has put his refusal to tour behind him and has performed in the United States as well as Europe and Asia.

"Old Fire Sticks" may be another step in demystifying Bunny Wailer.

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Posted: Thu - February 13, 2003 at 04:34 PM