After the devastating news of Neville O’Riley Livingstone, aka Bunny Wailer’s death on March 21, last year, the world has been shocked again by the death of yet another member of the Wailers.
In October 2018, Bunny Wailer suffered a minor stroke, resulting in speech problems. After suffering another stroke in July 2020, he was hospitalised at Andrews Memorial Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, where he eventually died on 21 March 2021 at the age of 73,
If you will recall, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were the three main and original artistes in the Wailers Band. The first one to die was Bob Marley himself after he had been diagnosed with a cancerous disease known as acral lentiginous melanoma; He died as a result of the illness in 1981.
After the death of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh was the next to die. He was shot and killed by gunmen in an attempted robbery on September 11, 1987. In the same year, another member of the Wailers band, Carlton “Carly” Barrett, aged 36 at the time, was murdered at his Jamaica home in 1987. Before that Aston “Family Man” Barrett of the Wailers Band also died.
Only last week on November 7, there was news of yet another Wailer, Rita Marley’s alleged death. However, this turned out to be a celebrity hoax. Rita Marley is alive and well.
Messages about her death began to appear on Facebook and Instagram platforms.
News of singer Rita Marley’s death spread quickly earlier this week causing concern among fans across the world. However, the November 2022 report has now been confirmed as a complete hoax and just the latest in a string of fake celebrity death reports. Thankfully, the 76-year-old singer is alive and well.
Rumours of the singer’s alleged demise gained traction on Monday after a “RIP Rita Marley” Facebook page attracted nearly one million of “likes”. Those who read the About page were given a believable account of the Jamaican singer’s passing: “At about 11am ET on Monday (November 07, 2022), our beloved singer Rita Marley passed away. Rita Marley was born on July 25, 1946 in Santiago de Cuba. She will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.”
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Hundreds of fans immediately started writing their messages of condolence on the Facebook page, expressing their sadness that the talented 76-year-old singer was dead. And as usual, Twittersphere was frenzied over the death hoax.
Whereas some trusting fans believed the post, others were immediately skeptical of the report, perhaps learning their lesson from the huge amount of fake death reports emerging about celebrities over recent months. Some pointed out that the news had not been carried on any major Jamaican networks such as radio and television, indicating that it was a fake report, as the death of a singer of Rita Marley’s stature would be major news across networks.
A recent poll conducted for the Celebrity Post shows that 83% still think false Rita Marley death rumours are funny.
On Tuesday (November 8) the singer's reps officially confirmed that Rita Marley is not dead. “She joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized by this hoax. She's still alive and well.Stop believing what you see on the Internet,” they said.
Some fans have expressed anger at the fake report saying it was reckless, distressing and hurtful to fans of the much-loved singer. Others say this shows her extreme popularity across the globe.
Now hear this! This week I was devastated by the news coming from Jamaica via King Isaac. It reads: “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart from the news that The Wailers’ own keyboard player, brother and friend Tyrone Downie passed away. Tyrone joined The Wailers just before the age of 20, making his recording début with the band on Rastaman Vibration. When you hear the keys on Three Little Birds (and many other hits), you should always think of Tyrone. The Wailers and friends would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Tyrone’s family. Rest in Power Tyrone. #R”.
Many tributes have been pouring in on the death of Tyrone Downie
On November 5, the official Wailers’ message came out as follows: "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart from the news that The Wailers’ own keyboard player, brother and friend Tyrone Downie passed away today. Tyrone joined The Wailers just before the age of 20, making his recording début with the band on Rastaman Vibration. When you hear the keys on (and many other hits), you should always think of Tyrone. The Wailers and friends would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Tyrone’s family. Rest in Power Tyrone." .
In the early hours of Sunday (November 6th), it was Tyrone Downie (pictured above) who was the first to publish a post about the death of his father. Shortly thereafter, the official Wailers account also informed about the death of keyboardist, pianist and producer Tyrone Downie. Downie was best known for his involvement as a member of Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Since last Tuesday, social media has been full of countless tributes from family, colleagues, fans and the reggae fraternity.
The first person to call me about Downie’s death was a reggae musician from South Africa, Carlos Djedje. He said that he was very sad to hear the news of Downie’s death and he prayed that no more Wailers die as he still loved their music. He said that he has been following his career from a long time and that he missed the keyboards that man played in the Wailers band.
In 2007, Tyrone Downie did a successful collaboration with Africa’s Alpha Blondy.
This is what AlphaBlondy had to say about Tyrone Downie’s death.
Gifted reggae Legend, another one of the Wailers fly away home to Zion….Brother Tyrone I will always cherish the treasure of working together.
Fifteen years ago, we were recording Jah Victory album at the Studio Marcadet in Paris till very late in the night!!!
I hold in high esteem those unforgettable moments of musical communion, the unique warm atmosphere floating in the studio like a natural mystic blowing in the air, adding your music genious in every song, in every mixture of notes with your gold fingers… It will always be this eternal link between you and I….
Thank you for the slice of the musical journey we spent together….
Thank you for sharing with us your tremendous talent and inspiration!!
Thank you for your divine tribute to Reggae Music!!!
You will always have a place in our hearts, from Bob Marley to many more artistes like me, your musical contribution will live on for ever and ever in this musical arena.
Rest in Peace Brother, May God reward you for all the good vibes you shared with us during this journey,
My condolences to all members of your family.
Now you are on board of Zion Train heading straight to Paradise…
From Jamaica many other tributes came from prominent artistes. From the Marley family, tributes came from Ziggy Marley, Stephen Marley, Rita Marley and Damian Marley who all worked with this prominent keyboard player at some point during his musical career. Other Jamaican artistes such as Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt (who were part of the I-Three with Rita Marley in the Bob Marley and The Wailers Band), Beenie Man, Shaggy, Jimmy Cliff, Buju Banton, Sizzla, Tony Rebel of the Rebel Salute fame, Sean Paul and Capleton all expressed their sadness at such a loss.
I met all the members of the Wailers including Tyrone Downie in 1980, but I now regret that I did not give him much attention as my eyes were focussed on Bob Marley himself. Tyrone Downie was aged 24 at the time and he looked like the youngest member of the Wailers. Now I wish I had spent more time with him. All I can do now is to express my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. Rest in power, TyroneDownie!
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