Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
Junior Braithwaite
Junior Braithwaite
 June 2, 1999
Age 50

   Original Wailer Junior Braithwaite Murdered In Jamaica 

                     Junior Braithwaite, one of the original members of Bob Marley's seminal reggae 
                     group the Wailers, was murdered Wednesday (June 2) night in the home of a 
                     fellow musician in Kingston, Jamaica. 

                     One of two men who were shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in the incident, Braithwaite 
                     had recently returned to his homeland after living in Chicago for more than 20 years.  
                     Police are investigating the case. 

                     The death marks the second Wailer homicide, following the fatal shooting of co-founding 
                     member Peter Tosh at his Kingston home in 1987. 

                     Braithwaite was a member of the original Wailers, formed in Kingston in the early 1960s with 
                     Marley, Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Beverly Kelso. He sang on the 1965 hit "It Hurts To Be 

                     Though he left the group in 1966, he had reportedly come back to his Caribbean homeland in 
                     hopes of reviving his singing career. His death leaves only Wailer and Kelso as surviving 
                     members of the original quintet. Marley died of cancer in 1981. 

                     -- Stephen Peters 

   Junior Braithwaite, An Original Wailer, Shot And Killed
                 Jamaican police say they have no suspects in 
                 fatal shooting of early Bob Marley bandmate.  

                 Contributing Editor Christopher O'Connor reports:  

                 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 

                                  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) -- 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."  

                 Tosh was killed inside his home in Jamaica in 1987. Marley, 
                 who emerged as the driving force of the group -- which 
                 eventually was renamed Bob Marley and the Wailers -- 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 version. 

                 "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 

Another Wailer killed * Industry mourns shooting of Junior Braithwaite

                                     BY BASIL WALTERS 
                                     Observer staff reporter 

                                     The music industry was last 
                                     night still mourning 
                                     Wednesday night's killing of 
                                     Junior Braithwaite, a founding 
                                     member of the famous 
                                     Wailing Wailers. 

                                     Braithwaite, who along with 
                                     fellow musician, Lawrence 
                                     "Chakka" Scott, was shot 
                                     dead by gunmen in Duhaney 
                                     Park, was described by his 
                                     colleagues as a "decent" and 
                                     "humble" man.  

                                     Braithwaite and five other 
                                     people -- Robert (Bob) Nesta 
                Marley, Neville O'Riley Livingston (Bunny Wailer), 
                Peter (Winston Hubert) McIntosh, Beverley Kelso and 
                Cherry Smith -- started the Wailin Wailers. He was 
                the third member of that immensely talented group to 
                have died and the second to be killed by gunmen. 
                The first was McIntosh (Peter Tosh) who was gunned 
                down in his home in 1987, while Marley fell to cancer 
                in 1981. 

                Musical connoisseur and broadcaster, Bunny 
                Goodison, reflecting on the singer's death, said: "In a 
                lot of developing countries, they treat their cultural 
                icons and sporting personalities with a level of 
                respect and endearment. But in Jamaica, we get so 
                decadent that we say a guy is just a guy." 

                His feelings were echoed by veteran musician, 
                Johnny "Dizzy" Moore who said: "I'm sad to hear. The 
                gun thing has got terribly out of hand, but mi nuh know 
                how dem a go bell the cat. It gone too far."  

                Braithwaite's death now leaves three surviving 
                members of the original group. Bunny Wailer, Kelso 
                and Smith.  

                Constantine Lawrence, affectionately known as 
                "Vision", also did a stint with the Wailers, but he was 
                not a foundation member.  

                Braithwaite will best be remembered for his lead 
                vocals on the Wailers' 1965 breakthrough hit, It Hurts 
                To Be Alone, which he recorded at the tender age of 
                14. It became his signature tune of the four of the 
                Wailers tunes on which he was featured as lead 
                vocalist. The other three are Habits, Straight And 
                Narrow Way and How Many Times. 

                He is the third member of the music fraternity to have 
                died within the past two weeks. 

                The other two were Augustus Pablo and music 
                promoter, Gavin Sharpe. A frequent question being 
                asked since Braithwaite's death is, "why he was not 
                more well known?"  

                This is due to the fact that, like Kelso and Smith, he 
                migrated in 1966 to live with family and relatives in 
                Chicago. After that, the group became Bob Marley 
                and the Wailers, consisting of Marley, Peter Tosh and 
                Bunny Wailer. 

                Braithwaite last performed in Jamaica on Heineken 
                Startime in May of 1997 at the Countryside Club.  

                On that occasion, in the tradition of his musical roots, 
                Braithwaite came away with his reputation intact as 
                the audience could not get enough of him. 

                President of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians, 
                Desmond Young, paid tribute to Braithwaite thus: "It's 
                just unfortunate that he came home with a dream, 
                after spending time aboard, but the dream never 
                really connected. As one of the original Wailers he 
                wanted to get back in the groove, but that was not to 
                be. Condolences to his family and close associates. 
                We all mourn with them." 

                Michael Barnett from MKB, promoters of Heineken 
                Startime, described Braithwaite as a harmless soul 
                who was always positive. He said he was making 
                efforts to have Braithwaite do an album with Kingston 
                Music, but because the singer wanted to do some 
                Wailers stuff, locating the appropriate publishers 
                thwarted the project. 

                "He was never down, always positive. It's really 
                unfortunate to see three of the original Wailers die so 
                tragically. It's a tremendous loss," Barnett said.  

                Junior Lincoln, one of the pioneers in the 
                development of sound systems in Jamaica, 
                expressed shock and sadness at the killing, while 
                veteran sound system disc jockey and recording 
                artiste, the legendary King Stitt said: "Junior was a 
                decent man. I never heard him in any war yet. He was 
                just a humble and a quiet person. Musically, he had 
                something going. He left the Wailers and came back 
                hoping to restart his career. Just a pity he got cut 

                John Alexander, manager of the female singing 
                quartet, Fourth Street Sister, recalled that last 
                summer Braithwaite was working on an unfinished 
                project with that group. "A very humble person trying 
                hard to make a comeback. To see a man like that not 
                recognised and die this way is sad," said Alexander. 

                Singer, Ken Boothe, apparently overcome with 
                emotion, said: "The Jamaican people lack 



 remember your fallen brother:   the life of Junior Braithwaite

            Franklin Delano Alexander Braithwaite, better known as Junior 
          Braithwaite, was born April 4, 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica. On June 2, 
          1999, at the age of only 50 years old, three cowardly gunmen took 
          his life. Most people think that Bob Marley founded The Wailers, but 
          in fact Junior was a co-founder of the band, along with Peter Tosh 
          and Bunny Wailer. When Braithwaite was just a young teenager, as 
          were all of his bandmates, The Wailers released their first single in 
          December 1963, "Simmer Down." The band at the time featured Bob 
          Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Beverly Kelso and Junior himself. 

            According to Roger Steffens, who interviewed Braithwaite in 1985, 
          Junior was only in the group for eight months and only sang lead on 
          such songs as, "Habits," "Straight and Narrow Way," "Don't Ever 
          Leave Me," and "It Hurts To Be Alone." Braithwaite had arguably the 
          best voice in The Wailers as stated by Studio One's Coxson Dodd, 
          "Braithwaite had the best voice in the group when they first came to 

            Junior Braithwaite left The Wailers in late August of 1964 and 
          moved to America trying to pursue a medical career. Years later, 
          Bob Marley discussed the early Wailers' days and commented that, 
          "Junior [Braithwaite] used to sing high. It's just nowadays that I'm 
          beginning to realize that he sounded like one of the Jackson Five. 
          When he left we had to look for a sound that Bunny, Peter and me 
          could manage." 

            Roger Steffens adds that, Junior "lived primarily in Chicago and 
          southern Wisconsin for the next 20 years, but returned to Jamaica in 
          1984 at the request of former partner Bunny Wailer, who enlisted him 
          in his 'Never Ending Wailers' recording project." 

            In 1985, while reflecting back with Roger Steffens about the Wailing 
          Wailer songs, Junior commented, "All of them have their own 
          characteristics, all the tunes. They have different things to say, and a 
          new inspiration come each day, and so I'm saying all of them is 
          appreciated. I consider all of them a blessing or gifts from the Most 
          High, Jah Rastafari." 

            The songs featured on the "Never Ending Wailers" album become 
          that much more crucial because this was some of the last recorded 
          work that Junior ever did. One song in particular, "Together Again" 
          refers to this historic reunion of The Wailers and calls on the need to 
          "Remember your fallen brother, who has accomplished his task." 
          Who could have known that within years of this song, two of its 
          singers would be gone - Peter Tosh and now Junior Braithwaite. 

            In 1986 Bunny Wailer performed his first United States tour ever, 
          including his August 16th performance at Madison Square Garden in 
          New York City. It was here that saw the reunion of the remaining 
          Wailers (minus Peter Tosh who was unavailable for the concert), 
          including Bunny along with Junior Braithwaite and Vision Walker on 
          the song "Together Again." There were plans for a possible full 
          Wailers reunion tour which never materialized because of the death 
          of Peter Tosh in 1987. Imagine what this reunited Wailers would have 
          been like to see in person, truly amazing! 

            Junior Braithwaite attempted to make a solo comeback of sorts, 
          with his May 1997 performance (see a picture of this concert on main 
          page) at the Heineken Startime held in the Countryside Club in 
          Jamaica. According to the Jamaica Observer, Junior had been 
          working on a project with the all-female group Fourth Street Sister, 
          which remains unreleased. 

            The Jamaica Observer captured some reactions to Junior's death 
          by some legendary Jamaican musicians, including King Stitt who 
          was quoted as saying, "Junior was a decent man. I never heard him 
          in any war yet. He was just a humble and a quiet person. Musically, 
          he had something going. He left the Wailers and came back hoping 
          to restart his career. Just a pity he got cut down."   As 
          Wailers-ologist and fan Matthew Smith rightly put it, "Junior's death 
          is just the latest in a line of tragic events that have followed The 
          Wailers since the assassination attempt on Bob and Rita in 1976. 
          Carly [drummer Carlton Barrett], Peter [Tosh], Fam and Carly's 
          [Barrett] father, and now Junior have all been senselessy murdered 
          by the very brothers they have spent their lives singing about and 
          using their music to help." 

            In Roger's interview, Junior gave his views on life and reggae 
          music, "Well, it's [reggae] about truth and rights, it's not about cars 
          and women. It's a more spiritually - because, you see, the whole 
          purpose of creation is that Jah, every man is equal under the sun. 
          And if I'm oppressed, well, I'm just the voice of the people then. But I 
          don't sing about oppression all the time, I sing about love, because 
          that's a part of life too, and about family, and about the joys and the 
          woes. It's like what a poet would do with his poem, he write about 
          ever facet of life on every level. You have gladness, sadness, 
          whatever. So to me it's not really a war against no one in particular. 
          It's about truth and rights and whoever the cap fits has to wear it, 
          man. I don't have any animosity towards or against anyone. I love - 
          because love is the greatest thing. Love, yeah, is the key to even 
          eternal life." 

            Junior's death cuts short a career that was never fully realized, but 
          fans can take comfort in knowing that the songs that he did sing on 
          will live on forever!  

 Many thanks to Roger Steffens for...research that he has tirelessly collected!





 1988     Tosh, Peter                          Toughest                                                           Harmony Vocals
 1991     Marley, Bob                          One Love                                                           Vocals, Harmony Vocals
 1994     Marley, Bob                          Simmer Down at Studio One, Vol. 1                 Vocals, Harmony Vocals
 1994     Wailers                                 Never Ending Wailers                                       Vocals
 1994     Marley, Bob                          Wailing Wailers at Studio One, Vol                   Vocals, Harmony Vocals

  Following leader Bob Marley's death from cancer on May 11, 1981, the Wailers Band struggled
 nearly a decade for direction, hampered from releasing their own music by a Gordian knot of legal
 entanglements. Anchored by world-class bassist Family Man Barrett and his drummer brother
 Carlton (who was murdered by gunmen hired by his wife in April 1987), the Wailers Band
 performed well-received international tours almost constantly through the '80s.~AMG