b. Franklin Delano Alexander Braithwaite, 4 April 1949, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, d. 2 June 1999, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. In 1963, Braithwaite joined forces with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer as the fourth member of the Wailers, accompanied by two backing singers Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith. The hit, ‘Simmer Down’, topped the Jamaican chart and is widely considered the group’s debut and was successfully followed by the sublime ‘It Hurts To Be Alone’. Confusingly the latter was credited as the group’s debut on the World Disc label and as it featured Braithwaite on lead vocals the singer’s status was elevated among Wailers fans. The group released over 70 tracks with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and Braithwaite featured on a number of these sessions. Although he was often included in the line-up, Studio One promoted the group as a trio and had the Wailers not proved to be as phenomenally successful he would have remained another unsung hero in the Jamaican music industry. Despite their popularity, the economics of keeping the group together proved to be impossible and Braithwaite relocated to Chicago, Illinois, USA in 1965. There he embarked on a career in a medicinal role. In the mid-80s, Bunny Wailer resolved to re-unite the original Wailers for the release of Never Ending Wailers. Braithwaite returned to Jamaica for the sessions that featured the reunion of Wailer, Tosh, Kelso, Smith and Constantine Walker. The group performed over surviving rehearsal tapes that featured Marley’s vocals including ‘I’m Still Waiting’, ‘Dutch Pot’, ‘Music Lesson’ and a remake of ‘It Hurts To Be Alone’. ‘Music Lesson’ was later released as a single and included an unfortunate pronunciation of the word, African in the chorus line, ‘Couldn’t it be one a them great Afrikaners’. Unfortunately, the album was criticised as a ‘cash in’, although it was superior to Bunny Wailer’s almost karaoke tribute to the Wailers on the Grammy award-winning release, Hall Of Fame. Braithwaite returned to relative obscurity in the USA where he occasionally returned to the limelight. In 1997, the singer travelled to Jamaica where he embarked on an unsuccessful solo career. Two years later he joined the list of celebrity murder victims in Jamaica when three gunmen slayed him. Following his demise Braithwaite’s career was widely covered by both reggae and mainstream media.
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