Best Of '99: Junior Braithwaite, An Original Wailer, Shot And Killed

Jamaican police say they have no suspects in fatal shooting of early Bob Marley bandmate.

[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

wrong time."

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"

(RealAudio excerpt),

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."

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