[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Friday, June 4.]
One of the five original members of Bob Marley's seminal reggae band,
the Wailers, became the second member of the quintet to be killed, when
he and another man were fatally shot Wednesday in Kingston, Jamaica,
according to local police.
Investigators said Junior Braithwaite "was in the wrong place at the
Braithwaite, who was 52, died around 6:45 p.m. of a single gunshot wound
to the head, according to Cpl. Roland Layne, a spokesperson for Kingston police. Layne said two men
attacked Braithwaite and his friend, Laurence Scott, at Scott's house on
Rosend Avenue in Kingston. Scott was killed, too.
Layne said no arrests have been made in the shooting and no suspects
have been identified. He said police believe the motive was connected to
guns the assailants thought were being kept at Scott's home. Police were
involved in a shootout with another man at the same address in May; that
man, whom Layne did not identify, was killed and police recovered firearms
at the time, he said.
Braithwaite had no involvement with the guns, according to Layne. "He
was just visiting his friend," the corporal said. "He was in the wrong
place at the wrong time."
Braithwaite sang lead on an early Wailers single, "It Hurts to Be Alone"
which was a hit in Jamaica; but he left the group in 1966. The remaining
lineup — singers Marley, Peter Tosh (born Winston Hubert MacIntosh) and
Neville O'Reilly "Bunny" Livingstone (who later became Bunny Wailer) #151;
formed the core of what is generally considered to be the most important
group in reggae's history and the one that gained the music worldwide
popularity with such songs as "Stir It Up," "I Shot the Sheriff" and
"Keep on Moving" (RealAudio excerpt).
Tosh was killed inside his home in Jamaica in 1987. Marley, who emerged
as the driving force of the group #151; which eventually was renamed Bob
Marley and the Wailers #151; died of cancer in 1981.
Lem Oppenheimer, vice president of Easy Star Records, an independent
New York record label that specializes in roots reggae, said the group
in its original form was much different than the later, more popular
"Generally, it was a different sound having five members," Oppenheimer
said. "The harmonies were much stronger at that point. They were doing
a lot more ska back then."
Braithwaite and another original member, Beverly Kelso, left the group
around the same time. Although Braithwaite never released solo albums
and, according to the Associated Press, lived in Chicago, removed
from the music business, for 20 years, he sang back-up vocals on tracks
by Marley and by Tosh throughout the 1970s.
"The Wailers were always a tight-knit group," Oppenheimer said. "He was
considered one of them, even after he left the group."