Legendary reggae producer Bunny Lee has died at the age of 79, it has been confirmed.
Born Edward O’Sullivan Lee in Kingston, Jamaica, Lee was pivotal in introducing reggae to an international audience. He began his prolific career as a record plugger for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label in 1962 before beginning to produce records on his own. By the late ’60s, he was one of Jamaica’s top reggae producers, working with acts such as Lester Sterling and Stranger Cole, Pat Kelly, the Sensations, and more.
Lee produced Eric Donaldson’s 1971 song “Cherry, Oh Baby,” later covered by the Rolling Stones, and would go on to produce for Delroy Wilson, John Holt, Beenie Man, and more, shaping the sound of reggae and dub in the process. Lee produced King Tubby’s 1974 album Dub From the Roots as well as 1975’s The Roots of Dub, which led to a partnership deal with Trojan Records, quickly increasing the genre’s popularity in the UK and across the globe.
In October 2008, the Jamaican government honored Lee with the Order of Distinction to recognize his contributions to reggae music over his decades-long career. “He will be hugely missed to all of those who knew him personally or through his incredible catalogue of music,” Trojan Records said in its statement. “Friendly, astute and affable, he was always willing to offer assistance to others.”