RIP Toots Hibbert, reggae legend, dead at 77 - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Reggae legend Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert has passed away. His family announced on twitter and Facebook that he “passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.” Hibbert’s cause of death was not revealed, however he had been hospitalized at the end of August, as he was waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test. He was 77, and is survived by his wife “Miss D,” Doreen, seven of eight children and grandchildren.

Born in Jamaica, Hibbert had a soulful style of singing and was an electrifying live performer. Along with Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias, Hibbert formed The Maytals as a vocal group in 1962. In their early days, they began working with legendary reggae producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One in Jamaica. Toots and The Maytals hit their music stride in 1968 with the song “Do The Reggay,” the first song ever to use the word “reggae.”

Toot’s first big hits included “Bam Bam” in 1966, and “Monkey Man” in 1970, and was followed over the years by now reggae classics like “Funky Kingston,” “Reggae Got Soul,” “Time Tough,” “54-46 (That’s My Number),” and “Pressure Drop,” a song that would go on to be famously covered by The Clash and Robert Palmer.

Another one of the many highlights of his career came in 1988, when Toots went to Memphis to record Toots In Memphis at Ardent studios, a solo record that was produced by Jim Dickinson. Supported by the great reggae rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Toots covered classics including “Love And Happiness,” “Knock On Wood,” and “Hard To Handle.”

In August, Toots & The Maytals released Got To Be Tough. Their first new album in a decade. In 2007, Toots & The Maytals visited WXPN and performed a Free At Noon at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. You can listen to it below.

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