February 2, 2014 – Bunny Rugs aka Bunny Scott was born William Clarke on February 2nd 1948 in Mandeville, Jamaica and raised in Kingston. In the mid 60s he joined Charlie Hackett and the Souvenirs, the resident band at the Kitty Club on Maxfield Avenue, before leading the early lineup of Inner Circle in 1969. From 1971 he did a stint in New York where he was a member of the dance band Hugh Hendricks and the Buccaneers and the Bluegrass Experience.
He returned to Jamaica in 1974 and recorded with Lee “Scratch” Perry, initially as a backing singer, then with Leslie Kong’s nephew Ricky Grant as the duo Bunny & Ricky. They released singles such as “Freedom Fighter” and “Bushweed Corntrash”.
He joined Third World in 1976. The group was signed to Island Records and had hits in U.K. and U.S. charts including “Now That We Found Love,” “Always Around” and “Reggae Ambassador.”
The next year, the band released “96 Degrees in the Shade,” one of its most popular albums. The group was signed to Island Records and had hits on British and U.S. charts, including “Now That We Found Love,” “Always Around” and “Reggae Ambassador.” He performed on all of Third World’s records except the group’s debut.
Stevie Wonder, who performed on stage with the band at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1981, co-wrote and produced Third World’s 1982 song “Try Jah Love.”
Clarke and Third World were known for seamlessly fusing reggae with soul and pop music, something they were occasionally criticized for by reggae purists. In a 1992 interview with Billboard magazine, he described the band’s identity this way: “Strictly a reggae band, no. Definitely a reggae band, yes.”
Drummer Willie Stewart, who kept the beat in Third World until 1997, said Monday that the fun-loving Clarke “loved his art but always had a joke.”
In a government statement noting Clarke’s death, Culture Minister Lisa Hanna said: “Bunny Rugs’ voice was distinct. He had a charisma and stage presence that was spellbinding with a smile that was vibrant.”
He had been released from an Orlando Florida cancer treatment center a week earlier when he passed away at his home on February 2, 2014 at age 65.