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Toots Hibbert - 1942-2020

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 29 / 10 / 2020

Toots Hibbert - 1942-2020


Maarten Schiethart reflects upon the life of pioneering reggae artist Toots Hibbert, who died in September.

Frederick Hibbert died on 11th September, 2020 at the age of 77. Alas, once again the coronavirus killed a great musical hero. Known for his recordings with The Maytals for Studio One and Prince Buster in the early 1960s, as Toots and The Maytals he met with much wider recognition once signed to Island Records in the 1970s. 'Pressure Drop' and 'Funky Kingston' counted amongst the releases you'd need to get once you’d heard the likes of Lee Perry, Max Romeo, Junior Murvin and of course Bob Marley, on the label (with startling offshoots like Mango) which built the epitome of exquisite taste in Caribbean music. The vibrant energy from the Ska Years remained throughout. Toots never went irie or psychedelic as eventually many stalwarts related to Lee Perry did; his heart remained loyal to ska, calypso, soul and doowop. Funky and sweaty live performances gained The Maytals a grand reputation, yet Toots Hibbert lacked the star appeal of Bob Marley. How many records The Maytals sold is beyond my knowledge, but a couple of million at least. One rarely sees a copy of the 'Funky Kingston' LP when crate-digging. Toots won a Grammy Award in 2005, gave the name to the music we now enjoy as reggae and had seven children with his beloved wife Doreen. A true funky family man if ever there was one, Toots lived life to the fullest.

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