Keyboard player for Bob Marley and The Wailers dies at 66

Tyrone Downie, who first contributed to the group's 1976 hit, "Rastaman Vibration, died Saturday at a hospital in his native Jamaica.

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Tyrone Downie, a keyboardist widely known for his work with Bob Marley and The Wailers, has passed away. He was 66.

According to People, Downie died on Saturday, Nov. 5, at a hospital in his native Jamaica after “feeling ill.” His specific cause of death remains unknown.

Downie, who studied at Kingston College, joined The Wailers in the mid-1970s.

Tyrone Downie
Tyrone Downie, best known for his work as a keyboardist for Bob Marley and The Wailers, has passed away in Jamaica at the age of 66. (Photo: Screenshot/ Evans Media)

Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Marley founded The Wailers in 1963. They changed their name to Bob Marley and The Wailers in 1974, which is around the time that Downie joined the band and made his first musical contribution to “Rastaman Vibration,” their highest-charting 1976 album and only LP to peak in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200.

Downie continued to collaborate with the group on five subsequent studio albums, from “Exodus” in 1977 to “Confrontation” in 1983, Bob Marley and The Wailers’ final project, which was released two years after Marley passed away in 1981 at age 36. 

Marley’s official Twitter account, which his estate manages, shared a tribute to Downie after learning of his passing.

“Reflecting on brother Tyrone Downie, Bob’s keyboardist, who made his transition yesterday. Rest in peace brother,” the post read, according to People.

Kingston’s Tuff Gong studio, which Marley founded, also tweeted about Downie’s death.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Wailers keyboardist, Tyrone Downie,” the message read, People reported. “Tyrone joined the Wailers just before the age of 20, making his recording debut with the band on Rastaman Vibration. We are blessed to count him as a member of the Tuff Gong Family.”

Over the years, Downie also performed with artists and acts that include Sly & Robbie, The Caribs, The Abyssinians, Beenie Man, Peter Tosh, Tom Tom Club, Burning Spear and Steel Pulse.

“Organ-D,” the keyboardist’s only solo album, was released in 2001.

Downie is survived by his partner Bernadine Simpson, nine children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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