Friday, in Kingston, Jamaica, Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, a leading singer and songwriter for Toots and the Maytals, died. He was seventy-seven. The band’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have announced his death. “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,” the statement read, said.
The cause of death was not revealed; however, on Aug. 31, his Facebook account reported that Hibbert had been screened and cared for coronavirus in the last two weeks.
For over 50 years, Hibbert’s electrifying soulful performances have excited the lovers of live music and given foreign audiences a distinctive, Jamaican language. Jamaica’s signing beat was named for his 1968 hit “Do the Reggay” but his artist defied boundaries. His vocals blend thrilling gospel, retro soul, rude R&B and classical country, fused by pliant indigenous rhythms from Jamaica. He turned Ann Peebles’ “(I’ve Got) Dreams to Remember,” into a scorching serenade and forever changed John Denver’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain” into a loved one-along anthem. He was able to add the beautiful island lilt to Otis Redding’s “Country Roads” level.
The modest manner and affable character of Hibbert denied his majestic global image. In 2012, it was honored as a national treasure in Jamaica and awarded the fifth highest distinction of the Order of Jamaica.
“For my generation, Toots is the ultimate performer,” said Roy “Gramps” Morgan of the Morgan Heritage reggae party. “The [kind of] artist who leaves everything on the stage, physically and spiritually. Toots is the James Brown of reggae, and one of the best Jamaican singers of all time. You won’t find any singer who sounds like Toots and you are not going to hear that sound again.” ‘The [artist] that leaves everything physically and spiritually on the stage.
Hibbert was born on Dec. 8th, 1942, 45 minutes west of the capital Kingston, in the rural May Pen, Clarendon countryside. Hibbert ‘s parents were predicators and the voices of Jamaica’s Afro-Christian religious traditions, including Revival Zion and the Cuban people, that were important for formed Hibbert ‘s performances, were raised in what he called the “a salvation church.” Also listed are Hibbert by Elvis Presley, the Mahalia Jackson Gospel symbol, and the James Brown Soul Superstars and Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding.
Toots Hibbert won 2005 Grammy later in life for True Love’s best reggae song. Every track on the record collaborated with his biggest fans, including Eric Clapton, Bootsy Collins and The Roots, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards and Shaggy, Marcia Griffiths and Ken Boothe from Jamaica. “True Love is Hard to Find,” said the singer with Toots, and his band is “one of the highlights of my life.” in the title track. Bonnie Raitt, who is on the stage.
The last album in his career, Hibbert released his latest studio album Got To Be Tough on 28th August 2020. On the song, a passionate Hibbert tackles the “Just Brutal,” worldwide massacres, overcomes hurdles in the funky “Struggle,” fight dirty values with dignity over the sparkling “Warning Warning” and stand vigilant, whatever the circumstances on the indomitable title track.
Hibbert was admitted to West Indies University Hospital in Kingston two days after the release of Got To Be Rough.