Toots Hibbert, the Grammy-winning Jamaican singer behind seminal reggae tracks like “Pressure Drop” and “54-46", died on Friday.
Hibbert, born Frederick Nathaniel, was surrounded by family when he died peacefully at hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, said a statement put out on his social media channels.
He had been hospitalized with complications from COVID-19 and put in a medically-induced coma earlier this month, reports the Jamaica Gleaner, though his family have not revealed the cause of death.
Hibbert was the front-man of Toots and The Maytals, a group that ushered in the roots rocksteady reggae sound that was borne in Jamaica in the late 60's and quickly went on to captivate music lovers the world over. Hibbert is also credited with coining the term reggae with the track “Do The Reggae,” which he wrote in 1968 with his backing band.
His music was also informed by the R&B and soul music being produced by Black Americans, and his reggae-infused covers of standards like “I’ve Got Dreams (To Remember)” and “I Can’t Stand The Rain” are celebrated parts of his oeuvre.
Across the globe and in his native Jamaica, Toots was recognized as a musical icon, and tributes have come from all corners in response to the news of his passing.
“There is nobody like him. I will remember him as a passionate performer with the biggest personality ever,” Jack Jackson, bass player for The Maytals, told the Gleaner.
“Toots was always his own self, full of energy, laughter and hard work,” Island Records founder Chris Blackwell said to Rolling Stone, “Toots wrote and performed so many great songs all across the world and had just completed a totally new album which was planned for release this year. It is so sad that he has been taken from all of us.”
A prolific artist and performer for close to six decades, Hibbert released the final album of his career, Got To Be Tough, just this August. It has been nominated for a Grammy.
He is survived by his wife of 39 years and seven of his children.