One of Jamaica’s most respected musical artistes, who helped making reggae popular in the 60’s with hit songs like Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and Funky Kingston, has passed on.
He even claimed to coined the genre name “Raggae”, on 1968’s Do The Reggay.
Hibbert’s family stated he gave up the ghost on Friday. The cause wasn’t revealed, however, he had said to have lately been to the hospital with Covid-like symptoms.
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
He was later placed in a medically induced coma, and a spokesman said Hibbert was “fighting for his life.
The soulful performer scored 31 number 1 singles in Jamaica, BBC reported
At the Barbershop
The musician was given birth to in December 1942 in May Pen, a town about 48km west of Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.
He was the youngest of 7 children, grew up singing gospel in a church choir – however it was in school he grew the interest to become an artiste.
“We would sing before class, sing in the morning.” “And teacher said, ‘Yeah, you’ve the best voice,’ and gave me good encouragement,” Hibbert stated in a BBC programme
His mother, a midwife, died when Hibbert was eight, and his father died just 3 years later. As a teenager, he had to move to Kingston to live with his elder brother John (who gave him the nickname, “Little Toots”). Later, he got a job in a barbershop.
There, he made friends with singers- Jerry Matthius and Raleigh Gordon, with whom he formed the Maytals with.
In 1962, the year Jamaica gained her independence from the UK, they got discovered by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, which resulted to their first record deal- Studio One label.
In a decade, they had released a myraid of hit singles which include Fever, Bam Bam, and Sweet and Dandy.
But the group wave was halted in 1967, when Hibbert got arrested for marijuana possession. He spent 9 months in prison and, upon his release, he recorded 54-46 (That’s My Number) – representing his prison number.
At that time, the word “reggae” never existed. The music, which was a fuse of ska and rocksteady, was then called blue-beat or boogie-beat until Hibbert intervention.
With his 54-46, he was able to cross across outside the shores of Jamaica and penetrating the Europe.
“The music was there and nobody knew what to call it,” he told BBC 6 Music.
Hibbert said there was a slang in Jamaica – if you’re not fine, if you’re looking raggedy, it was called ‘streggae’. That’s where it was taken from.
“I recorded “Do The Reggay” song, people told me that the song made them know that our music is called Reggae. So I coined the word!”
Later, in the 1990s, he formed a new version of the Maytals and toured extensively.He was able to make a more high-profile comeback with his 2004 album- True Love.
It went on winning a Grammy award, uplifting the Hibbert’s career. He then released a solo album, Light Your Light, in 2007 and paved way for the Maytals’ 50th anniversary in 2012.
However, the following year, he had an injury in a concert, and could not perform again till 2016.