Bunny Lee Museum Opens on International Reggae Day

Bunny Lee Museum
A bust of legendary Jamaican music producer Bunny Lee. It is one of many artifacts at the Bunny Lee Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. The facility had a soft launch on July 1, celebrated as International Reggae Day.

 

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Bunny Lee Museum, a shrine that encapsulates the legacy of one of reggae’s greatest producers, opened here July 1, celebrated as International Reggae Day.

The soft launch was open to family, close friends and media at the flamboyant Lee’s former recording studio. Lee, who died in October, 2020 at age 79, produced countless hit songs by artists such as John Holt, Johnny Clarke, Roy Shirley, Cornel Campbell and Max Romeo.

Tiffany Thomas, communications officer for the museum, said the facility will officially open in February, acknowledged globally as Reggae Month.

Bunny Lee Museum - Tiffany Thomas
Tiffany Thomas, communications officer at the Bunny Lee Museum in Kingston, stands by an organ once owned by keyboard ace Jackie Mitoo.

“This is really just to mark International Reggae Day. It’s been a long time coming, but we are proud of where we are because to get and maintain some of the old artifacts, took some doing,” she told South Florida Caribbean News.

Bunny Lee Museum Artifacts

Some of the items at the museum include a Hofner bass guitar, once owned by Robbie Shakespeare of Sly and Robbie fame, who died in 2021. Shakespeare was Lee’s leading session musician for many years.

Other pieces are a guitar that belonged to Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haynes of The Skatalites, horns owned by members of The Skatalites, and mixing boards Lee used during the 1970s, when he had most of his hit songs including Stick by Me from John Holt, Better Must Come by Delroy Wilson and None Shall Escape The Judgement by Johnny Clarke.

Known as Striker, Lee was from Greenwich Town, a seafaring community in Kingston. He helped promote songs by producers Duke Reid, Leslie Kong and Clement Dodd in the early 1960s, before starting his own label.

During the late 1960s, he had hit singles with Bangarang by Lester Sterling and Stranger Cole, the risque Wet Dream by Max Romeo and Roy Shirley’s Music Field.

A mural with images of reggae legends including Reid, Kong, Dodd, Chris Blackwell and Prince Buster, dominates one of the museum’s rooms.

Bunny Lee was awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth-highest honor, in 2008.