Wailers get Blue Plaque honour

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, September 30, 2019

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The former site of Island Records' Basing Street studio in London will be recognised with a Blue Plaque on Friday, to acknowledge the work of The Wailers (Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh) who worked on two groundbreaking albums there.

According to the website, eventbrite.co.uk, the event is organised by Dr Jak Buela, CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust.

Marley, Tosh, and Wailer (then Bunny Livingston) recorded the Catch a Fire and Burnin' albums at Harry J studio in Kingston, but overdubs and mixing for both were done at Basing Street which was the main recording unit for Island Records which signed them that year.

The albums were released in 1973 to critical acclaim and helped introduce reggae, then a rising sound, to a wider market. A critical overdub was American guitarist Wayne Perkins' searing rock solo on Concrete Jungle, from Catch A Fire.

Catch A Fire and Burnin' were the last albums Marley, Tosh, and Wailer recorded together. Tosh and Wailer left The Wailers in 1974.

George Ramocan, Jamaica's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, commented on the gesture.

“I am very pleased that three iconic Jamaican musicians, the Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, OM, the Honourable Peter Tosh, OM, and the Honourable Neville O'Riley “Bunny Wailer”' Livingston, OM, founding members of the internationally renowned Wailers are being honoured with a Blue Heritage Plaque in London. Without a doubt, the global awareness and impact of reggae music is largely due to the musical creativity and the missionary message of liberation and upliftment promoted by Bob Marley and The Wailers,” he said.

It is the second time this year that a London site connected with Marley will be honoured with a Blue Heritage Plaque. In February, it was announced that one would be placed at the Oakley Street, Chelsea home where he lived in 1977 while recording his epic Exodus album.

Marley died from cancer in May 1981 at age 36. Tosh was murdered at his St Andrew home in September 1987 at age 42.

Wailer, now 72, is a multi-Grammy Award winner.

Homes associated with fellow reggae stars Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs have also been honoured with Blue Plaques. For Brown, who died in 1999, this came in 2012, for a house in which he once lived at Hazeldean Road in Harlesden.

In October 2016, a Blue Plaque was placed at 59 Weald Lane, Harrow Weald, the west London home where Isaacs died six years earlier.

The symbolic blue plaque has been placed at homes of famous people in Britain since the late 19th century. Among them are John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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