Reggae Legend Toots Hibbert 1942 – 2020

By Andy Kahn Sep 12, 2020 6:29 am PDT

Reggae legend Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals has died at the age of 77. A message announcing his death stated:

It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.

Mr. Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.

Toots had been hospitalized in August his native Jamaica and tested for COVID-19. It was reported that he was put into a medically induced coma.

Born Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert on December 8, 1942 in May Pen in the Parish of Clarendon, he was raised by Seventh-day Adventist parents. He was orphaned at a young age and spent his formative years in Kingston, Jamaica. In the early-1960s, Toots met Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias and Ralphus “Raleigh” Gordon and formed the first incarnation of The Maytals, named after Toots’ hometown. In 1966, Toots was incarcerated for 18 months for marijuana possession.

Toots’ stint in prison was chronicled in what became one of his signature songs, “54-46 That’s My Number.” Another well-known song, 1968’s “Do the Reggay” is considered one of the first uses of the word now commonly spelled “Reggae.” Toots & The Maytals, which included Hux Brown, Rad Bryan, Paul Douglas and Jackie Jackson, included their popular songs “Pressure Drop” and “Sweet And Dandy” on the soundtrack to the 1972 feature film starring fellow reggae musician Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come.

Toots & The Maytals continued fusing R&B and soul with rocksteady and Ska with more notable releases such as “Monkey Man,” and “Pomp and Pride.” In the 1980s, Hibbert put the band on hiatus while pursuing a solo career, reforming the group in the 1990s. Toots & The Maytals’ 2004 album, True Love won the Best Reggae Album Grammy Award and featured an all-star lineup of guests with contributions from Phish’s Trey Anastasio, The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, The Roots, The Skatalites, Manu Chao, No Doubt and others.

While performing at the 2013 River Rock Festival in Richmond, Virginia, Hibbert was severely injured when a person in the crowd threw a glass bottle that struck Hibbert in the head. It was not until 2016 when Toots & The Maytals returned to performing live. Toots & The Maytals released a new album, Got To Be Tough last month.

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