Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert, OJ (8 December 1942 – 11 September 2020)[2] was a Jamaican singer and songwriter who was the lead vocalist for the reggae and ska band Toots and the Maytals. A reggae pioneer, he performed for six decades and helped establish some of the fundamentals of reggae music.[3][4] Hibbert's 1968 song "Do the Reggay" is widely credited as the genesis of the genre name reggae.[5] His band's album True Love won a Grammy Award in 2005.[4]

Toots Hibbert
Hibbert performing in 2010
Hibbert performing in 2010
Background information
Birth nameFrederick Nathaniel Hibbert
Born(1942-12-08)8 December 1942
May Pen, Colony of Jamaica
OriginKingston, Jamaica
Died11 September 2020(2020-09-11) (aged 77)
Kingston, Jamaica
  • Singer
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • bandleader
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • Hammond organ
Years active1961–2020

Early life edit

Hibbert was born on 8 December 1942 in May Pen, Jamaica, the youngest of his siblings.[6] Hibbert's parents were both strict Seventh-day Adventist preachers so he grew up singing gospel music in a church choir. Both parents died young and, by the age of 11, Hibbert was an orphan who went to live with his brother John in the Trenchtown neighborhood of Kingston.[3] While working at a local barbershop, he met his future bandmates Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Matthias.[7]

Career edit

1960s edit

Hibbert, a multi-instrumentalist,[8] formed Toots and the Maytals in 1961.[6] He could play every instrument used in his band[9] and would later cite Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, and James Brown as key influences.[10] According to Hibbert, Maytals is a reference to the Rastafari term for "do the right thing".[6] There are also statements attributing the source of the name to Hibbert's hometown of May Pen.[10] The band was originally a trio with Gordon and Mathias, and later added Jackie Jackson and Paul Douglas.[11]

Much of Hibbert's early recorded output, such as "Hallelujah" (1963), reflects his Christian upbringing.[4] He was also known to write about Rastafarian religious themes, and in an early Maytals song, "Six And Seven Books of Moses" (1963), he addressed the folk magic of obeah and its use of the occult literature of Biblical grimoires, such as the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.[12]

The Maytals became one of the more popular vocal groups in Jamaica in the mid-1960s, recording with producers Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Ronnie Nasralla, and Leslie Kong. This success included winning Jamaica's National Popular Song Contest three times with songs Hibbert wrote: in 1966 with "Bam Bam", which won a national song competition, 1969 with "Sweet and Dandy" and 1972 with "Pomps & Pride".[13]

In 1966, Hibbert was sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of marijuana.[14] This experience provided the inspiration for one of his best known songs, "54-46 That's My Number".[14] Hibbert was one of the first artists to use the word "reggae" on a record, in 1968's "Do the Reggay".[4]

The quick way to explain the Maytals is to say that in reggae they're the Beatles to the Wailers' the Rolling Stones. But how do I explain Toots himself? Well, he's the nearest thing to Otis Redding left on the planet: he transforms 'do re mi fa sol la ti do' into joyful noise.

Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)[15]

In his 2016 "The Rise of Reggae and the influence of Toots and the Maytals", Matthew Sherman wrote:

"In the winter of 1968, the cool rocksteady beat gave way to a faster, brighter, more danceable sound. Reggae was born. Toots heralded the new sound with the seminal, complex groove monster 'Do the Reggay' advertising 'the new dance, going around the town.' Toots wanted 'to do the Reggae, with you!' …From '69 to '71, Toots could do no wrong recording for Leslie Kong. With the consistent nucleus of musicians, the Beverley's All-Stars (Jackie Jackson, Winston Wright, Hux Brown, Rad Bryan, Paul Douglas, and Winston Grennan) and The Maytals' brilliant harmonizing, Toots wrote and sang his unmistakable voice about every subject imaginable."[16]

1970s edit

The first Toots and the Maytals album released and distributed by Chris Blackwell's Island Records was Funky Kingston. Music critic Lester Bangs described the album in Stereo Review as "perfection, the most exciting and diversified set of reggae tunes by a single artist yet released."[17] Chris Blackwell had a strong commitment to Toots and the Maytals, saying "I've known Toots longer than anybody – much longer than Bob [Bob Marley]. Toots is one of the purest human beings I've met in my life, pure almost to a fault."[18]

In 1970, the band first charted overseas with “Monkey Man” reaching No. 47 in Britain.[4]

Hibbert also appeared in the groundbreaking Jamaican film The Harder They Come, in which his band sings "Sweet and Dandy".[19] The film's soundtrack included the Maytals' 1969 hit song "Pressure Drop".[20] The Harder They Come features fellow musician and actor Jimmy Cliff in the leading role as Ivan, a character whose story resembles Hibbert's.[4]

On 1 October 1975, Toots and the Maytals were broadcast live on KMET-FM as they performed at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. This broadcast was re-mastered and released as an album entitled Sailin' On via Klondike Records.[21]

Late 20th century edit

Toots and the Maytals with Dave Matthews when performing together in 1998

The band's 1980 performance at Hammersmith Palais in London was released as an album, Live, less than 24 hours after it was recorded, making it into the Guinness Book of World Records.[7][22] The band released Knock Out! in 1981,[22] after which the original Maytals trio broke. After a hiatus, Hibbert continued to tour as a solo artist. In 1988, he released Toots in Memphis, for which he earned his first Grammy nomination.[23][11][22] Hibbert restarted his band in the mid-1990s without Gordon and Mathias.[22]

2000s edit

In 2004, Hibbert was featured in Willie Nelson's Outlaws and Angels.[24] Hibbert carried on touring the world, and his band's True Love won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2005.[4] Nelson released a reggae album entitled Countryman (2005) which featured Hibbert on the song "I'm a Worried Man".[25] Hibbert was also featured in the music video for the song, which was filmed in Jamaica.[26]

In 2006, Toots and the Maytals covered Radiohead's "Let Down" for the Easy Star All-Stars album Radiodread, a reggae version of the English rock band's OK Computer.[27] At the end of the year, Hibbert joined Gov't Mule for their New Year's Eve concert, documented in their Dub Side of the Mule release.

In 2009, Hibbert collaborated with MCPR Music and Steel Pulse's Sidney Mills, who produced Jamaican percussionist Larry McDonald's album Drumquestra. His track is called "What about the Children?"[28] The same year he also performed vocals with Iowa reggae band Public Property on their album Work to Do.[29]

Hibbert was also a judge for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[30]

Hibbert collaborated with the U.S. southern rock/blues group, JJ Grey & Mofro. He is featured in their song, "The Sweetest Thing", on their album, Georgia Warhorse.[31]

2010s edit

In 2011, Hibbert was featured in the documentary Reggae Got Soul: The Story of Toots and the Maytals which was airred on BBC.[32] Described as "The untold story of one of the most influential artists ever to come out of Jamaica", it features appearances by Marcia Griffiths, Jimmy Cliff, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Anthony DeCurtis, Ziggy Marley, Chris Blackwell, Paolo Nutini, Paul Douglas, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare.[33][34]

Hibbert at the One Big Holiday 2018, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

In May 2013, Hibbert received a head injury after being hit by a thrown bottle during a performance at the River Rock Festival in Richmond, Virginia, U.S. forcing him to cancel several months of live shows.[35] The bottle was thrown by William C Lewis. Lewis was facing a charge of malicious wounding, but he pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Despite Hibbert pleading in a letter to the judge, "He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail. My own pain and suffering would be increased substantially knowing that this young man would face that prospect," the judge gave Lewis a six-month sentence.[36]

After a three-year hiatus following the incident at the River Rock Festival, in 2016 Toots and the Maytals returned to the stage and began touring again.[37] Hibbert's vocals appear in the Major Lazer and Bad Royale 2016 collaboration, "My Number", which samples his band's earlier song "54-46 That's My Number".[38]

On 25 July 2018, Hibbert performed on the U.S. television show The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with Toots and the Maytals where they debuted an original song entitled "Marley" as well as performing their classic hit song "Funky Kingston" in a live performance.[39]

Toots and the Maytals have been cited as inspiration for other music artists as per career longevity. Jamaican artist Sean Paul explained this in saying, "I've seen some great people in my industry, you know, people like Toots…Toots and the Maytals. Toots, he's a great reggae artist and he's still doing it…He's up there in years and he's doing it. Those kind of artists inspire me. I know I'm just going to keep on doing music as long as I can."[40]

Personal life edit

Hibbert married Doreen as a teenager. They had seven children.[41] Two of his songs, "It's You" and "Never You Change" were written for Doreen when she was 18 years old.[4] His son Clayton followed him into a career in music, performing and recording under the name 'Junior Toots'.[42] His daughter, Jenieve, also followed him into music, most popularly performing as one half of a gospel duo with now ex-husband, Robert Bailey.[43]

Death edit

In August 2020, it was reported that Hibbert was in hospital "fighting for his life" in a medically induced coma.[44][45][20] On 12 September 2020, a statement on the band's Facebook page announced that he had died, at the age of 77.[46] The Gleaner and Rolling Stone later confirmed the announcement, reporting that Hibbert had died at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, in a medically induced coma.[3][47] It was later confirmed that COVID-19 during the pandemic in Jamaica was the underlying cause of his death.[48][49]

Honors edit

In 2010, Hibbert ranked No. 71 in Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".[50] In August 2012, it was announced that he would receive the Order of Jamaica, the country's fifth highest honour.[51]

Discography edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Bush, Nathan. Toots Hibbert at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  2. ^ Mason, Peter (12 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Blistein, Jon (12 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert, Reggae Pioneer Who Infused Genre With Soul, Dead at 77". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Sisario, Ben (12 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert, a Father of Reggae, Is Dead at 77". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  5. ^ Aswad, Jem (22 March 2020). "Legendary Reggae Singer Toots Hibbert, Frontman of the Maytals, Dies at 77". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Toots Hibbert, singer who helped to make reggae one of the great global musical forces – obituary". The Telegraph. 12 September 2020. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  7. ^ a b Savage, Mark (12 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert obituary: The man who invented reggae". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Toots Hibbert, Reggae Star, Has Died". Wall Street Journal. Associated Press. 12 September 2020. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  9. ^ Album sleeve of DJ Derek Presents… Sweet Memory Sounds (2006).
  10. ^ a b Marshall, Wayne (22 March 2020). "Toots and the Maytals: Funky Kingston". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  11. ^ a b Hines, Morgan (12 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert, reggae icon who named the genre, dead at 77". USA TODAY. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  12. ^ Hayes, Kevin J. (2016). Folklore and Book Culture. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 18, 120 n31. ISBN 978-1-7252-3646-2.
  13. ^ "The National Song and National Gospel Song Contests". Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  14. ^ a b "Singing the jailhouse rock Archived 3 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 25 November 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2012
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: T". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved 16 March 2019 – via
  16. ^ Sherman, Matthew (18 September 2016). ""The Rise of Reggae and the Influence of Toots and the Maytals"". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  17. ^ ""Toots and the Maytals." Contemporary Musicians". 6 October 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Red Bull Music Academy Daily". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  19. ^ Aswad, Jem (12 September 2020). "Legendary Reggae Singer Toots Hibbert, Frontman of the Maytals, Dies at 77". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Reggae Icon Jimmy Cliff Sends Positive Vibes As Toots Hibbert's Condition Improves". Dance Hall Mag. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Toots and the Maytals – Sailin' On – Live At The Roxy Theater LA 1975 (CD)". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  22. ^ a b c d "Toots & the Maytals | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  23. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (12 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert, pioneering reggae star, dies aged 77". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  24. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Outlaws and Angels – Willie Nelson". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  25. ^ "Willie Nelson: Countryman Album Review – Pitchfork". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Willie Nelson – I'm A Worried Man Ft. Toots Hibbert". YouTube. 11 August 2011. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2018. Music video by Willie Nelson performing I'm A Worried Man
  27. ^ Tangari, Joe (11 October 2006). "Easy Star All-Stars: Radiodread". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Jazz news: Legendary Reggae Percussionist Larry McDonald Teams up with MCPR Music and Producer Sidney Mills to Present an Innovative Rhythmic Masterpiece Entitled, Drumquestra" (Press release). DP Public Relations. 13 April 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2020 – via All About Jazz.
  29. ^ Phelps, Jason (10 July 2009). "Album Review: Public Property – Work to Do". Little Village. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  30. ^ "Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  31. ^ Threadgill, Jacob (21 September 2017). "High-energy Southern showstoppers JJ Grey and Mofro bring their act to The Jones Assembly". Oklahoma Gazette. Archived from the original on 12 September 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Toots and the Maytals: Reggae Got Soul – BBC Four". BBC. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  33. ^ "Toots & The Maytals – Reggae Got Soul – Documentary Trailer". YouTube. 15 August 2013. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  34. ^ "Honolulu Museum of Art : Toots and the Maytals: Reggae Got Soul". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  35. ^ "'Time Will Tell' Says Toots", Jamaica Gleaner, 13 October 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013
  36. ^ "Man gets jail time despite "Toots" Hibbert's plea". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  37. ^ "Toots And The Maytals Announce First Tour In 3 Years". 13 April 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  38. ^ Cush, Andy (6 December 2016). "New Music: Major Lazer & Bad Royale – "My Number"". Spin. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  39. ^ Tornow, Sam (26 July 2018). "Reggae Originators Toots and the Maytals Take Over 'Tonight Show' With 'Funky Kingston & Marley'". Billboard.
  40. ^ Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM (21 November 2016). "Sean Paul On Eating Pum Pum, Being Jamaican, Other Artist Releasing Caribbean Music + New Music". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  42. ^ "Junior Toots gets spiritual", Jamaica Observer, 28 January 2022. Retrieved 29 January 2022
  43. ^ [1]
  44. ^ "Reggae icon Toots Hibbert in hospital". Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  45. ^ "Toots Hibbert Hospitalized in Intensive Care Unit". Pitchfork. 31 August 2020.
  46. ^ "Toots and the Maytals". Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  47. ^ "Reggae artiste Toots Hibbert has died". 12 September 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  48. ^ "Butch, Toots to be honoured by KSAMC". Jamaica Observer. 13 January 2021.
  49. ^ McLeod, Sheri-Kae (29 September 2020). "Toots Hibbert to be Buried in His Hometown in Clarendon".
  50. ^ "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". Rollig Stone. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  51. ^ Bonitto, Brian (2012) "Tosh gets OM Archived 4 February 2021 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 7 August 2012, retrieved 7 August 2012

External links edit