Jamaican reggae pioneer Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert died at the age of 77, his band Toots and The Maytals announced in a social media post Saturday morning.
According to the statement posted to Twitter, Toots “Passed away peacefully” while “surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.”
Though the statement did not list a cause of death, Toots had been in the hospital since late August, when the band announced he was admitted to an intensive care unit and awaited the results of a COVID-19 test.
“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,” the statement continued. “Mr. Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.”
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… pic.twitter.com/zOb6yRpJ7n
— Toots & The Maytals (@tootsmaytals) September 12, 2020
Known as one of its pioneers, Toots was the first to use the term “reggae” on record with The Maytals’ 1968 single, “Do The Reggay”. From then until now, Toots never stopped playing music, with he and the Maytals releasing a record, Got To Be Tough, just last month, marking their first in over 10 years.
Several musicians have already publicly paid respects to the reggae legend, including Ziggy Marley, who noted, “He was a father figure to me his spirit is w/us his music fills us w/his energy i will never forget him.”
The Legendary Toots Hibbert has passed i spoke w/him a few wks ago told him how much i loved him we laughed & shared our mutual respect. He was a father figure to me his spirit is w/us his music fills us w/his energy i will never forget him RIP MIGHTY & POWERFUL NYAH FYAH BALL 😢 pic.twitter.com/zIofrbYZU0
— Ziggy Marley (@ziggymarley) September 12, 2020
Warren Haynes took to social media as well, providing a heartfelt message about Toots, who he described as “The greatest Jamaican soul singer.”
“I say that not to downplay his immense role in the creation of Reggae music,” Haynes continued, “but to point out that as a singer his voice stands among the giants like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke etc.”
Read Haynes’ full post below and scroll down to watch Toots perform with Haynes and Gov’t Mule on the Toots and The Maytals original, “Pressure Drop“. The video comes from Mule’s New Year’s Eve 2006 performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York, NY.
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RIP Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert “Toots” was, in my opinion, the greatest Jamaican soul singer. I say that not to downplay his immense role in the creation of Reggae music- he coined the term Reggae- but to point out that as a singer his voice stands among the giants like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke etc. which is not to say that the other Reggae giants weren’t great soul singers in their own rites as well, but Toots was the “real fucking deal”. Hearing him sing, were it not for his Jamaican accent, he could have been from Macon, or Memphis, or Muscle Shoals. Which is not to mention his vast contribution as a songwriter. Artists like Bonnie Raitt, The Clash, Keith Richards, The Specials, Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Willie Nelson, Robert Palmer, and of course Gov’t Mule and the Derek Trucks Band are just a few of the many artists who have covered Toots’ songs. I consider myself fortunate to have recorded with Toots a few times and performed with him even more. My mind goes back to the Beacon Theater- NYE 06/07 when Gov’t Mule performed an entire set with Toots which we would later release as a DVD/CD package lovingly titled Dub Side of the Mule which also features, among others, Gregg Allman, another great soul singer. That night stand out as a special evening in a long list of special evenings I’ve/ we’ve had at the Beacon Theater. My visual memories of that performance will stay with me forever as will the other experiences I was lucky enough to share with Toots, including his singing on our record Shout!, and when he sat in with Gov’t Mule and we were supposed to play Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long but Toots started singing I’ve Got Dreams To Remember—lucky we knew that one too—and when we played on the cliffs together in Negril, Jamaica. These are all experiences I’ll never forget. About 30 seconds after getting the word that Toots had passed I was on the phone with my compadre Gordie Johnson who is one of the biggest Reggae aficionados I know and who also joined us that memorable NYE at the Beacon (for just that reason). He and I have very similar musical tastes and philosophies and have
Gov’t Mule ft. Toots Hibbert – “Pressure Drop” – 12/31/06
[Video: Gov’t Mule]