The November 22nd, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady is dedicated to Hector “Bunny” Williams.
During this miserable year of 2016, we have lost some of truly great foundation artists in Jamaican music: Vocalist, Nora Dean and producer/artists, Jimmy Riley, Winston Blake and Prince Buster as well as label owner Lloyd A Campbell. Over the last few months this sad year has intensified with the deaths of legendary instrumentalists; Deadly Headly Bennett, Bobby Ellis, and now the vastly underrated drummer, Hector “Bunny” Williams, who died last Thursday, Nov 17th, 2016 at Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay after being admitted two weeks ago for kidney treatment. Though Bunny was born in West Kingston, it was Montego Bay where he learned how to play the drums from Skatalites drummer, Lloyd Knibbs.
From a 1998 interview Lloyd tells the story..
“Well, Bunny Williams, I taught him. And when Skatalites band mash-up, and they had Soul Brothers, I was on the ship those time. And I came back and was [at the] Orange Bowl listening to the band. And Bunny saw me come in, and say, ‘bwai breddah Lloyd, me cyaan manage the ska thing. Me can’t manage it.’ So he gave me back the sticks, and I never go back on the ship. I just stay with Soul Brothers.”
The Soul Brothers were the de facto house band of Studio One after the Skatalites dissolved in 1965, and Bunny Williams would be The Soul Brothers first drummer. Bunny would play on many Studio One classics along with former Skatalites: Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevett, Rolando Alphonso, and Johnny Moore. We heard four songs that Bunny would play behind as a member of the Soul Brothers, beginning with “I Stand Predominant” by Bob Marley and The Wailers. As Lloyd Knibbs states, Bunny was indeed the drummer of The Soul Brothers until Knibbs took over after being on tour. When rocksteady became the ruling rhythm on the island, Bunny, along with Roland Alphonso, Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevett would become an integral members of The Soul Vendors. We started the next set with two instrumental cuts from The Soul Brothers and then three tunes with The Soul Vendors.
To put together this memorial of Bunny Williams, we relied on the testimonies of the artists including Alton Ellis, Dobby Dobson who worked directly the late drummer to help differentiate the exact tracks that Bunny played on during the Studio One years. We also must thank the great Sly Dunbar of Sly and Robbie who in August of this year ranked his top ten All Time Drum Patterns in the Jamaica Observer, and we have included two of them in this long final set of this memorial program.
In July of this year, Bunny was recognised for his contribution to Jamaican music by the Tribute To The Greats organisation. He welcomed the award, telling the Jamaica Observer that, “We need to highlight more of us who people don’t know.”
Hector ‘Bunny’ Williams is survived by seven children and grandchildren. Rest in peace Bunny.