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William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke, Lead Singer of Legendary Band Third World, Dies

bunny clarkeTributes have been pouring in for William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke, lead singer of the Third World band, who died in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday.

“He had a charisma and stage presence that were spellbinding, with a smile that was vibrant. I personally will never forget him singing Try Jah Love and 96 Degrees in the Shade,” said Lisa Hanna, minister of youth and culture in Jamaica.

Opposition Spokeswoman on Youth, Sports, Information, Culture and Gender Affairs, Olivia Grange, said: “Bunny Rugs will always be remembered as one of the truly talented and devoted pioneers of Jamaican reggae music, and as one of finest voices to have graced the Jamaican music landscape.”

Clarke, who reportedly died from complications from leukemia, was a mere four days short of his 66th birthday on Feb. 6, a date he shares with Bob Marley, the reggae icon.

After taking over Third World lead duties from Milton ‘Prilly’ Hamilton, Rugs went on to record more than 20 albums with the band, extending from 1976’s “96 Degrees in the Shade” through to the 2010 “Patriots”.

Among the slew of well-known songs that Rugs sang lead on are “Committed”, “Now That We’ve Found Love” and “Try Jah Love”.

With the death of its lead singer, Third World faces the same dilemma Inner Circle (a band Rugs also sang with) did in 1980 when Jacob Miller died in a car crash on Hope Road, St Andrew.

With Clarke too ill to tour with Third World during its ongoing 40th anniversary tour, AJ ‘Boots’ Brown filled in for European festival dates.

These included performances at the Reggae Geel Festival in Belgium and Reggae Sun Ska in France.

This year, Third World is slated to perform on the Blue Mountain Festival in rural St Andrew on Feb. 22 and also has a clutch of summer dates on the US West Coast.

Yesterday, Frankie Campbell, chairman, Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates and bassist/manager of Fab 5 band, said: “Obviously, Bunny Rugs’ sound is the sound of Third World. He had a unique sound. A lot of Third World’s success is largely due to his unique sound.”




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2 thoughts on “William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke, Lead Singer of Legendary Band Third World, Dies

  1. Kasimu Bey says:

    Will never forget your contributions and creative measure playing and singing reggae music, your heartical charitable gifts, your love and consciousness of the
    plight of black people at home in Jamaica and abroad. Above all ini will forever remenber your love and service to JAH ALMIGHTY, SELASSIE I….Rastafari the shining light of Truth in your heart and the glad smile upon your face. I say with humble sympathy and compassion sublime peace to your wife and your eight children, your friends, relations and all the members of TWB, your bredrn, frends, famly peers and fellow musicians at your passing. I soul is shocked that you are gone but I am joyed that paradise is yours. FORWARD UNTO ZIONI, RASTAFARI!!!

  2. Anna Fisher says:

    RIP Bunny Rugs, what a blessing to record and tour with you. Fell in love with the band the first time I heard your music on the radio in the late 70's. Give thanks for your friendship, love and respect. Deepest condolences to your family and the Third World family. Your songs inspired my students in the classroom and my children at home. Forever in my heart, Jah love!

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