Reggae Icon Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert Dies At 77

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Reggae icon Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, frontman of Toots and The Maytals, died Friday night. He was 77.

According to a statement from the band, Hibbert was “surrounded by his family” at a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica.

No cause of death was disclosed but late last month The Maytals tweeted that Hibbert was in intensive care “receiving the best possible treatment, while he awaits the results on his COVID-19 test.” According to an update on Sept. 2, Hibbert was in “stable condition” and “receiving around the clock treatment to ensure his body can recover.”

Born in Jamaica, Hibbert sang gospel in a church choir and went on to form The Maytals with Henry Gordon and Nathaniel Mathias in 1962. The name changed to Toots and the Maytals a decade later.

The name “reggae” is said to have come from the 1968 Toots and the Maytals single “Do The Reggay.” The group had more than 30 hits in Jamaica, including “Pressure Drop,” “Sweet and Dandy” and “54-46 (That’s My Number)” – the latter written by Hibbert during a stint in jail.

Hibbert continued as a solo artist before reviving The Maytals with a new line-up in the early ‘90s. He earned a Grammy nomination in 1988 for Toots In Memphis and Toots and the Maytals earned four Grammy nominations, winning Best Reggae Album in 2004 with True Love.

The band released a new album, Got To Be Tough, at the end of August.

Among those paying tribute to Hibbert on social media were Willie Nelson, The Who, Cat Stevens, Blondie and Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness. 

Mick Jagger tweeted: “When I first heard Pressure Drop that was a big moment – he had such a powerful voice and on stage he always gave the audience his total energy. A sad loss to the music world.”

Ziggy Marley shared: “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.”

Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years Doreen and seven of his eight children.