Brothers to the endWednesday, March 03, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
From the day Gary “Dr Dread” Himelfarb first met Bunny Wailer at his father's home in Kingston, the American record label owner knew the diminutive artiste was special.
“He was drinking a cup of juice and looking at me like, 'Is wha' dis white man a do inna mi father place?' But once I got to know Bunny it was vibes… it was always about the vibes with Bunny,” Himelfarb told the Jamaica Observer from his home in northern California.
Wailer died yesterday at Medical Associates Hospital in Kingston at age 73.
Himelfarb, founder of RAS Records and the Grammy winner's former manager and music publisher, said he kept in touch with him until his death.
“It's sad to see such a large figure, not only in reggae music but in the whole spiritual consciousness, go,” said Himelfarb.
From Maryland, Himelfarb was introduced to Wailer in the early 1980s by Neville Lee, head of Sonic Sounds which distributed the singer's music in Jamaica. Though Himelfarb held that role for Wailer in the United States with fledgling RAS Records, he never met him and Lee felt it was time they broke the ice.
Himelfarb eventually became Wailer's music publisher and manager. In the 1990s he helped organise tours of Europe and North America for the artiste who won three Grammy Awards for Best Reggae Album that decade.
The third of those Grammys came in 1997 for Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley's 50th Anniversary, which was released by RAS Records.
“Our relationship just went from strength to strength. We had an intimate, close relationship as brothers,” Himelfarb disclosed.
Wailer was a member of the famed Wailers troika that also included Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, who died in 1981 and 1987, respectively. Each recorded landmark albums; in Wailer's case it was Blackheart Man, released in 1976.
Himelfarb believes that seminal work, which contained songs like the title, Fighting Against Conviction and Amagideon, assured Bunny Wailer his place as a reggae legend.
“Any human being who was able to write and perform the Blackheart Man album deserves to be recognised in a big way,” he said.
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