Popular Reggae Star & Lead Singer Of Toots & The Maytals Toots Hibberts Dies At 77
Toots Hibbert, lead vocal singer of Toots & the Maytals, passed away at the age of 77. He tested positive for Covid-19.
Toots Hibbert, one of reggae’s profound stars and founder who gave the music its name and later aggravated to an international movement through such classics as “Pressure Drop,” “Monkey Man” and “Funky Kingston,” passed away. He was 77.
Hibbert, frontman of Toots & the Maytals, had been in a comatose state at a hospital in Kingston since earlier this month. He was admitted in an intensive care unit after complaints of breathlessness according to his publicist. It was revealed by media outlets that the singer was awaiting results from a COVID-19 test after showing signs.
News of the five-time Grammy nominee’s ill-health broke just weeks after his last remarkable performance, on a national live-stream during Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence celebrations in August.
A family statement said Hibbert passed away on Friday at University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, surrounded by family.
Ziggy Marley, son of Bob Marley, tweeted about the death saying he spoke with Hibbert a few weeks ago and, “told him how much i loved him we laughed & shared our mutual respect,” adding, “He was a father figure to me.”
A well known wrestler, Hibbert was a bandleader, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and showman whose concerts sometimes came to a close with dozens of audience members dancing with him on stage. He was also, in the opinion of many, reggae’s greatest singer, so deeply spiritual he could transform “Do re mi fa so la ti do” into a hymn.
His hoarse voice, uncommonly warm, was likened to the voice of Otis Redding and made him more accessible to American listeners than many reggae artists. Original tracks such as “Funky Kingston” and “54-46 That’s My Number” held the emotion and call and response arrangements known to soul and gospel fans. Hibbert even recorded an album of American hits, “Toots In Memphis,” which came out in 1988.
Grammy nominations for Hibbert comprised of the best reggae album of 2012 for Reggae Got Soul and best reggae album of 2007 for Light Your Light. Hibbert was ranked No. 71 on a Rolling Stone list, compiled in 2008, of the 100 greatest contemporary singers. In 2012, he received the Order of Distinction by the government of Jamaica for outstanding contribution to the country’s music.
Married to his wife, Doreen, for nearly 40 years, Hibbert had eight children, including the reggae performers Junior Hibbert and Leba Hibbert.