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BUNNY LEE


Artist / Writer


REGGAE

Also known as “The hitmaker from Jamaica,” Edward O'Sullivan "Bunny" Lee is one of reggae music’s most enduring producers. Originally a plugger for Duke Reid, he came into his own after he moved to work with Ken Lack’s Caltone label.

Working with a fluid collection of musicians named The Aggrovators, he forged his own sound inspired in part by Gamble & Huff’s Philly sound, and which was christened by the flying cymbals style of drummer Carlton “Santa” Davis. The music even garnered its own dance crazes.

By the start of the ’70s, Bunny was Jamaica’s number one producer, joining the likes of King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry to permanently break the stranglehold of the big two (Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd). Hits like Pat Kelly’s “How Long,” Delroy Wilson’s “Better Must Come,” John Holt’s “Stick By Me” (Jamaica’s longest running number 1), The Uniques’ “My Conversation” and Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby” (since covered by The Rolling Stones, UB40 and others) all served to consolidate his position as the premier player, and earned him that nickname: “Hitmaker From Jamaica.”

In 1974, Bunny produced the first of a string of hits with Johnny Clarke, who would later be recognised as the first dancehall singer. The Lee/Clarke partnership was so awe-inspiring that other producers actively sought out such a partnership themselves, the most successful being Niney The Observer and Dennis Brown. Bunny’s rhythm tracks became as popular as the songs when he unleashed King Tubby (and his disciples, Prince Jammy and Phillip Smart) on them to remix in their own inimitable dub stylings.

He gave a cut of “My Conversation” to another producer, Rupie Edwards, who promptly created the first ever one riddim album. That riddim was later used by Canadian rap group The Dream Warriors for their international smash hit “Ludie.” Beres Hammond also used the same riddim to hit-making effect. At the end of 2000, “My Conversation” was revamped by Bobby Digital and Stone Love to rule the dancehalls once again.

Bunny’s rhythms are still being sampled and utilised to this day, as artists as diverse as Natty King and Groove Armada’s affiliates Weekend Players can attest, and in October 2008 he was awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for his contribution to the development of Jamaican music. Well deserved, sir!
 

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