Interview with Bunny Rugs – January 2014

This Interview is part of an Interview Irie Magazine had with Third World this January 2014. We repost this part of the interview on in loving memory of William Alexander Anthony “Bunny Rugs” Clarke (6 February 1948 – 2 February 2014).

The full interview can be read in Irie Magazine #1, and is available for download here:





IRIE: African Woman is one of my favorite reggae songs of all time. Can you share with us the story behind it?

Bunny. African Woman.. I wrote that song in New York in Central Park and that song is very special to me. Those days, in the early 70’s, you could rent a little boat in Central Park and I would have my acoustic guitar and my Panasonic cassette recorder and a little note pad and a pencil. I would spend all day writing and writing. The actual story that it tells is true, I was going through all those issue at that particular time. It’s a real song.

IRIE: Third World has been together for 40 years strong and through those years your message of LOVE in your music has never change. Why is that?

Bunny. When you really think about it, we have nothing else. To me, I don’t hate anyone and I have never experience hate. I stay far from that. But as you say, we have to explain to the massive exactly what love is, you know, because there are several categories of love. And the first place you have to start is with yourself.

I cannot give you something that I don’t have. You cannot create or build anything on hate. Hate is not a creative avenue for you to express. You have to express whatever you do, whether you are a shoemaker, a mechanic, I don’t care whatever you do. In order to have it done in a satisfactory manner and have it done well, you have to do it through love. I sometimes cook for my wife and I keep telling her the reason why the food taste so good (because she likes when I cook), is because I cook it with so much love. And love manifest itself in so many ways. When I’m cooking for her, and I just use this as an example, it’s a joy! And your ultimate intention is to have it tasty and favorable. You can’t cook tasty and favorable things with hate, my Lord.

IRIE. Can you tell us a little bit about your role as the spokesperson for the Jamaican Children’s Heart Fund?

Bunny. Yes. It is something very close to my heart. There are a number of children in Jamaica who need heart transplant or surgery. There is a team of doctors and nurses from Joe Dimaggio hospital in Miami. They’ve teamed up with some doctors and nurse in England. Chain of Hope is the new name. We’re trying to raise funds every which way we can so that we can have more missions. Every mission, the doctors fly to Jamaica to operate on 8-10 children. Right now, we have about 250 children in need of medical attention. So this is something very close to my heart, my friend!

 IRIE. Are their other historical topics that you would like to write about and put into song?

Bunny. That’s always a difficult question because we have done so much. We have over 23 releases, we have touch on practically every possible subject from the war on Iraq and Iran to starving children in Africa. What we would love to do is just to continue to do what we’re doing now and that is making good music. We love being on tour and on the road performing. We realize how much people love us across the world and that alone in itself is a beautiful blessing, you couldn’t ask for more than that.

IRIE. How has Third World manage to stay together 40 years strong?

Bunny. We’re a very close family. And it has always been the fear if Third World was to breakup, that we didn’t see any another group on the horizon that would replace the type of music that we play and the type of message that we’re always constantly pushing for. And I think what that has done to us is bring us closer together, It was a concern and worry a few years, that there weren’t enough groups being formed out of Jamaica. Like when we would go to Europe, you see young groups playing Ska and fusing it with Reggae. They have a larger instrumental section, trombones, violins, whatever, but that wasn’t happening in Jamaica. Now recently that has changed and there is a Reggae revival movement in Jamaica. Because you have some really nice musicians coming out of Jamaica, like Stephen “Cat” Coore’s  two sons, Shiah Coore and Steve “Jumbo” Coore (Shiah is a producer and plays bass with Damian “Junior Gong” Marley and Jumbo plays guitar in the Zinc Fence Band with Chronixx). There are so much young musicians, it so wonderful to see the youth embrace a group dynamic. Its such a special brotherhood being a part of a musical group. I did a birthday performance in Jamaica, last February, and the young musicians that performed with me, they were amazing so, naturally, I’m feeling better about that.

IRIE. Was music a subject you learned in school while growing up in Jamaica?

Bunny. When I was going to school, music wasn’t a subject. That’s because the Jamaican form of music was just being formed and experimented with by groups like the Skatalites, Alton Ellis, John Holt, the Pyramids, Lee Scratch Perry, early Bob Marley and the Wailers. I’m not sure if music is a main subject being taught in the schools today but the Edna Manley School of Music is a very good school with talented teachers. It’s turning out lots of great musicians. Music wasn’t a part of the curriculum when I was going to school. I went to two Catholic school and the only time we had music is when there was holidays coming up or some outing or something.

IRIE. When you are not with the band and you want to unwind, who do you listen to? Are they any other genres of music you want to explore?

Bunny. When people were listening to Earth Wind & Fire, I was listening to the Jazz Crusaders. I liked instrumental music. When I’m at home I listen to a lot of dub music. I think dub is the highest order of reggae music. It’s the jazz of reggae. Most of the time when I listen to other singers and the songs they sing, the subject that they are talking about… I don’t really want to focus on that. So what I do is listen to dub music, King Tubby meets the Upsetter. What I use to do is in the days when they sold vinyl. You know.. every weekend you go to the record shop and get the new stuff. I would take the record home because how they normally do it is that they have the vocal track on side A. And on side B, was the instrumental mix. What I would do is take the vinyl home and tape the instrumental mix on a Sony reel to reel tape. I would have like 15 hours of just dub music.

Nicholas Da Silva – Irie Magazine


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