Hibbert grew up in rural Jamaica, where he was exposed to gospel music and began singing in his church choir. In the 1960s, he formed the band The Maytals with Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias, and they quickly became one of the most popular acts in Jamaica.
The Maytals’ music was a fusion of gospel, ska, and R&B, with Hibbert’s powerful and soulful voice at the forefront. They had a string of hits in Jamaica, including “Bam Bam”, “Sweet and Dandy”, and “54-46 That’s My Number.” Their music was known for its infectious rhythms and catchy hooks, and it quickly gained popularity outside of Jamaica as well.
In the late 1960s, The Maytals became one of the first reggae bands to tour internationally, playing shows in the United Kingdom and the United States. Their music had a significant influence on the emerging punk and ska scenes in the UK, and they were embraced by musicians such as The Clash and The Specials.
Hibbert continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and he remained a beloved figure in Jamaica and around the world. He won a Grammy Award in 2004 for his album “True Love”, which featured collaborations with artists such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Bonnie Raitt.
Hibbert was known for his energetic and passionate performances, and he was admired for his ability to convey deep emotions through his music. He was also a social and political activist, using his music to speak out against inequality and oppression.
Tragically, Toots Hibbert passed away on September 11, 2020, at the age of 77. His death was a tremendous loss for the music world and for Jamaica, where he was regarded as a national treasure. He will be remembered as one of the most talented and influential musicians of his generation, a true pioneer of reggae music, and a beloved figure whose music brought joy and inspiration to people around the world.
Things to know:
- Pioneer of Reggae Music: Toots Hibbert was one of the pioneers of reggae music, which emerged in Jamaica during the 1960s. He and his band, Toots and the Maytals, helped to popularize the genre with hits like “Do the Reggay”, “Pressure Drop”, and “54-46 That’s My Number.”
- Grammy Award Winner: Toots and the Maytals won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2004 for their album “True Love,” which featured collaborations with other artists such as Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and Keith Richards.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee: In 2021, Toots and the Maytals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was a posthumous honor for Toots, who passed away in September 2020.
- Influence on Other Musicians: Toots Hibbert’s music has influenced many other musicians, including The Clash, The Specials, and Sublime. His songs have been covered by artists such as Amy Winehouse, The Black Crowes, and The Rolling Stones.
- Order of Jamaica Recipient: Toots Hibbert was awarded the Order of Jamaica, one of Jamaica’s highest honors, in 2012 in recognition of his contributions to the country’s music industry.