Jamaican music has lost another icon, Bunny “Striker” Lee.
A few weeks after the reggae community lost one of its founding fathers, Toots Hibbert, we’re saddened by the passing of another giant in the genre, Bunny Lee. Sources told Urban Islandz on Wednesday that Lee passed away on Tuesday (October 6, 2020) at a hospital in Kingston, moments after midday. We’re told that he suffered what appears to be a cardiac arrest. The producer was age 79 at the time of his death. His family, who are all pretty shaken by his sudden passing, are asking for privacy at this moment.
The mother of four of Bunny Lee’s children, Annette Wong-Lee, confirmed his passing. “The doctors said it was a respiratory failure, like a heart failure. He had gone to change his catheter at the hospital, he had a full time nurse with him, his son, Edward Junior had gone to buy food,” she told Loop. “When Edward Jr called the nurse to check on him, she was crying, and then the doctor called him to say he should ‘come now’, so immediately he knew something was wrong.”
Striker Lee has been battling several ailments in recent years, including diabetes and a heart condition. His family sources say he spent six weeks in the hospital and was recently discharged only to end up back in said hospital.
Bunny “Striker” Lee, whose real name was Edward O’Sullivan Lee, is a legend in Jamaica’s reggae music. He was born in 1941 in Kingston and began his career in the 1960s as a record plugger. It didn’t take long for him to kick off his career as a music producer with his first hit coming in 1967 with Roy Shirley’s ‘Music Field’ on WIRL. Lee went on to produce hits for the likes of John Holt, Peter Tosh, Slim Smith, Buju Banton, The Wailers, and many more big names in reggae music. He also played a pivotal role in Beenie Man’s career when he produced the dancehall icon’s first album, The Invincible Beany Man (The 10 Year Old D.J. Wonder), in 1983. He also produced the hugely popular Eric Donaldson’s 1971 classic “Cherry, Oh Baby.”
Striker Lee was also a pioneer in popularizing reggae music in the United Kingdom. He produced Max Romeo’s hit “Wet Dream” in 1969, which made it to the UK Top 10 hit chart and spent 25 weeks on said chart. He later formed a partnership with Trojan Records, which helped him further penetrated the UK market.
Bunny “Striker” Lee was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Distinction in 2008 for his contributions to reggae music. The reggae music industry has been reacting to his death, including a statement from Trojan Records who calls him a giant in music.
“Jamaican music giant, Bunny Lee, has very sadly passed away. Bunny was massively influential in shaping Jamaican music, starting as a record plugger in the Sixties, then, as a pioneering record producer, from the rock steady era through to the dancehall years of the 1980s,” Trojan said in a tribute to the late producer.
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Jamaican music giant, Bunny Lee, has very sadly passed away. Bunny was massively influential in shaping Jamaican music, starting as a record plugger in the Sixties, then, as a pioneering record producer, from the rock steady era through to the dancehall years of the 1980s. Friendly, astute, affable and always willing to offer assistance to others, he remained a great friend of Trojan since its inception in 1968. He will be hugely missed to all of those who knew him personally or through his incredible catalogue of music. Our thoughts are of course with his family and loved ones at this terribly sad time. Rest in Peace, Edward 'Bunny' Lee – a true Jamaican legend. • Link in bio to read our full Bunny Lee tribute • #bunnylee #bunnystrikerlee #ripbunnylee
The Reggae world has lost another iconic figure; Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee was unquestionably one of the most charismatic and inspirational record producers in Jamaican music with a phenomenal catalogue of hits. He drove the music forward across the decades & will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/SNDbM9k7g5
— David Rodigan (@DavidRodigan) October 7, 2020
Bunny 'Striker' Lee has died. He was one of the most influential producers in the history of reggae music. The original Don "Gorgon". This is such sad news! The world owes this man a great deal. ??? pic.twitter.com/XSdtKfCO27
— Nadine White (@Nadine_Writes) October 7, 2020
Very sad new for everyone at Pressure Sounds, Bunny Lee sadly passed away yesterday. A huge character and creative force in the business. He will be missed. RIP Mr Lee. #musicforever pic.twitter.com/zKjj5zDYjH
— Pressure Sounds (@pressuresounds) October 7, 2020