Fans of reggae pioneers Toots & The Maytals are gathered in mourning after reports that frontman Toots Hibbert died Saturday as announced by the band’s social media account. The group is considered one of the pioneers of the term reggae and created the first song to use the slang word widely in the late 1960s.
Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert was born on December 8, 1942, in the town of May Pen in Clarendon, Jamaica. Losing his parents early on, Hibbert moved to Kingston as a boy and honed his love of singing. While in Kingston, Hibbert met Ralphus “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias, and they formed a singing trio called the Maytals named after Hibbert’s hometown.
As the band continued to add members throughout the ’60s such as Jackie Jackson, Hux Brown, Rad Bryan, and Paul Douglas, their ska and rocksteady sound also began to develop. In 1968, the band’s song, “Do The Reggay,” flipping the term which was then considered a style of fashion in Jamaica. The term stuck and is now one of the most celebrated genres of music around the globe.
In 1972, the band was renamed Toots & The Maytals and became internationally known on the heels of Jimmy Cliff’s classic film The Harder They Come in 1972, contributing two songs to the movie soundtrack. The band released 10 projects in the’70s, including the album Monkey Man along with a greatest hit collection.
In the 1980s, the band recorded, mixed, and released the album Toots Live in an attempt to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records but a mixup by the record label prevented the registering of the event.
After a solo run by Toots Hibbert in the decade, the 1990s saw a retooled Maytals lineup and the band began recording and touring well in the 2010s. The band released its 24th studio album Gotta Be Tough in August of this year.
On Twitter, Toots Hibbert’s name has been trending with tributes from music lovers and musicians from around the world who were inspired by the band’s uplifting and positive vibes. We’ve collected some of those replies below.
Toots Hibbert was 77.