William Clarke, popularly known as "Bunny Rugs," abandoned the earthly body which had betrayed him and quietly left for the Great Beyond on February 2. Today would have marked his 66th year among us.
Clarke worked with the band Inner Circle and top reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry in Jamaica before joining Third World in 1976. The next year, the band released "96 Degrees in the Shade," one of its most popular albums. The group was signed to Island Records and had hits on British and U.S. charts, including "Now That We Found Love," ''Always Around" and "Reggae Ambassador." He performed on all of Third World's records except the group's debut.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...
Stevie Wonder, who performed on stage with the band at Jamaica's Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1981, co-wrote and produced Third World's 1982 song "Try Jah Love."
Two summers ago, I went to see Third World perform at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT. I had missed them when they came to Hartford some 3 or 4 years previously and I was not going to deny myself this time.
The show was advertised to start at 12 noon and I was there at 12:30 pm. I knew that these shows usually start late - 2 to 3 hours late - but I wanted a front row seat. The band actually took the stage at 11 pm. I kid you not. I fumed, I walked to my car 3 times intent on going home, I asked for a refund of my money, I wondered aloud how such a prestigious band could be associated with anything so sloppily produced, I grew hungry, was just hot and miserable. Despite all of that however, something held me there. Something prevented me from starting the car and driving out.
Come 11 pm, the band finally took the stage and all my anger was forgotten. It was something akin to being pregnant and giving birth: the swollen belly, the aching breasts, the nausea, the discomfort, the horrific pain of childbirth...then, then you see that wrinkled, angry little face and you are in love. Not a perfect analogy, is it? But you get the idea.
It was pure electricity when the band began to perform. Now that he's no longer with us, I wish I had taken more time to appreciate Bunny Rugs. My attention was totally riveted on his band mate, Tony "Ruption" Williams. (His pics do not do him justice. They lie, trust me.)
I do remember that Bunny had a dignified presence. He was clearly a trained professional who knew and loved his craft. He was one part of a well oiled machine and while he was totally overshadowed by the more dynamic drummer, he seemed not to mind one bit. I am grateful that I got to see him perform.
Rest in peace, Bunny Rugs.
In other reggae news...
* February 6 is the birthday of the great Robert Nesta Marley. He would have been 69 years old today.
* We didn't get a chance to comment on the passing of Junior Murvin who died last year from complications from diabetes. Junior Murvin of the sweet falsetto tones who gave us the groundbreaking hit, Police and Thieves .
Murvin, who was born Murvin Junior Smith, is best remembered for his 1976 single "Police and Thieves," a track he cowrote with dub legend Lee "Scratch" Perry and sang in a falsetto that comments on morality and immorality. The Clash recorded a six-minute cover of the song on their 1977 debut, The Clash. The U.K. punks also released a single of their version that same year.Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/...
"That was the first time any white men had attempted to cover a reggae hit," Clash frontman Joe Strummer said.
RIP, Mr Murvin.
A shout out to Stiff Necked Fools from Tuff Gong himself:
Police and Thieves from Junior Murvin: