KINGSTON, Jamaica CMC – Jamaican politicians joined fans and ordinary citizens, Monday, in paying tribute to William Clarke, the leader singer of the world renowned Jamaican reggae group, Third World, who died in a Miami hospital after battling cancer for a long time. He was 65.
Clarke, better known as “Bunny Rugs”, died Monday after battling Leukemia. His death comes a few months after the drop out of the band’s 40th anniversary tour of Europe.
Youth and Culture Minister, Lisa Hanna, said while “we will no longer be able to go to a venue to watch him perform with his beloved Third World, I am grateful and proud of his contribution to music.
“He was a true Reggae Ambassador who, along with the rest of Third World, brought Jamaica’s music to the world,” Hanna said, adding “Bunny Rugs’ voice was distinct. He had a charisma and stage presence that was spell-binding, with a smile that was vibrant”.
Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, took to social media to express his condolence to the family of the late singer.
“Truly saddened about the passing of Bunny Ruggs from Third World. Such a distinctive voice. My condolences to his family,” Holness said.
Curator and director of the Jamaica Music Museum, Herbie Miller, said Bunny Rugs represented one of Jamaica’s very best and that the late musician and band leader transcended national identity and sits on the pinnacle of excellence.
Born in the central parish of Manchester on February 6, 1948, “Bunny Rugs” joined Third World in 1976, three years after the band was formed. He performed on all but the band’s debut album.
Before joining Third World, he was lead singer for another iconic band, Inner Circle, alongside other talented musicians such as Michael “Ibo” Cooper on keyboards, Stephen “Cat” Coore on guitar and William (Willie) Stewart on drums.
Cooper, Coore and Stewart left Inner Circle to form Third World and it wasn’t long before Rugs also joined them in the band that was to make them all famous as Jamaica’s “Reggae Ambassadors.”
Photo courtesy of digjamaica.com.