Last week I had planned to dedicate this Thursday throwback to Bob Marley because it is his birthday today, but finally I decided that it would be a special edition dedicated to one of Jamaican’s finest voice Bunny Rugs. Third world’s lead singer Bunny Rugs born William Clarke has passed away on February 2nd after fighting against leukemia for serval months. This was one of main reason why I thought I had to write about Third World today, and more precisely about Bunny Rugs. Besides, it is also his birthday today. Unfortunately, didn’t live long enough to celebrate his 66th earth strong. However, he had the opportunity to see his band celebrating their 40th anniversary last year.
Bunny Rugs joined third world in 1976 and this is probably when their career took a new turn. The band didn’t hesitate to mix the roots reggae with other popular genres of music such as soul, rhythm and blues, funk which gave their music a distinctive crossover style that could be defined as new roots. One of their most notable hits, ’96 Degrees,’ featured on their album of the same name, is a perfect example of it. They also collaborated with music prodigy Stevie Wonder, who produced “Try Jah Love” that allowed them to gain exposure in the US during the 80’s.
Watch Third World performing ’96 Degrees’ at 1983 Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica.
As it is Bunny Rugs’ and Bob Marley‘s birthday today, it also seems like people grew interests in their music. You can see below, ’96 Degrees In The Shade’ and ‘Legend’ have reached the top of Reggae Albums charts on iTunes. Tarrus Riley‘s “Love Situation,” released on February 4th, only comes in third 3rd place on the top chart. By the way, if you haven’t got ’96 Degrees,’ you should really get it. This album is a must have.
Another classic that I really love from Third World, is the 1978 hit song titled “Now That We Found Love.” A really funky Reggae track, which has also been remixed by international Dancehall artist Sean Paul in the 90’s (Bunny Rugs ft. Sean Paul – Now That We Found Love (Remix)).
If you prefer Roots Reggae, with a more laid back groove, don’t worry. They’ve got it on lock too! Check out ‘I Roots (Roots With Quality).’ And remember, “Jah Jah music never fail I yet. […] Roots it up with quality”
Bunny Rugs also lead a solo career since the 80’s. Last year, Bunny Rugs had released a Roots Reggae single entitled “Afrika Unite,” under Fourth World Records,which advocates love and unity in the motherland Africa as the title says it all.
I had the chance to meet Third World this summer at the Rototom Reggae Sunsplash festival in Spain. They were touring the world to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Even though Bunny Rugs was not part of this tour, I am sure he was glad to see it happening. He was replaced by AJ Brown. I never had the opportunity to see Bunny Rugs performing live and never will, but I really enjoyed the positivity Third World spreads and I hope the band will still be active for many years. The death of Bunny Rugs is a great loss for reggae music. He will be missed. Rest in peace William ‘Bunny rugs’ Clarke.