Legendary Reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert has died at the age of 77.
The frontman of the reggae band Toots and the Maytals, whose real name was Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert, passed away yesterday (September 11) at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
His family confirmed his death in a Facebook statement today. “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,” they said.
“The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.”
“Mr. Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children,” the statement continued.
Toots’ cause of death was not disclosed, but he was placed in intensive care when he was admitted to the University Hospital on August 31 with symptoms of the coronavirus. Further reports said the singer was placed on a ventilator while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test but was “showing signs of improvement.”
The results of the test are still unknown to the public.
Two days ago, Jamaica’s Entertainment Minister, Olivia Grange, described Toot’s condition as “critically ill” but “stable as it has been for the last few days.” She dispelled rumors that he had died and requested that “those who are desirous of giving support and are willing to do so, to donate blood to Mr Hibbert’s account” at the hospital’s blood bank.
Ziggy Marley was among the first of many tributes following the news of Toots’ death. In Tweet today, the singer wrote, “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.”
The Legendary Toots Hibbert has passed 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 RIP MIGHTY & POWERFUL NYAH FYAH BALL 😢 pic.twitter.com/zIofrbYZU0
— Ziggy Marley (@ziggymarley) September 12, 2020
English stand-up comedian Lenny Henry said, “So sorry to hear of Toots Hibbert’s death. His music was a constant in our house growing up via Tighten up albums. His voice was powerful and adaptable to funk, soul, country, AND reggae. Rest in power…”
Toots & The Maytals – Funky Kingston https://t.co/iRNOtswHKN via @YouTube So sorry to hear of Toots Hibbert’s death. His music was a constant in our house growing up via Tighten up albums. His voice was powerful and adaptable to funk, soul, country, AND reggae. Rest in power…
— Lenny Henry (@LennyHenry) September 12, 2020
Toots and his group, the Maytals, have been in the Jamaican music industry for nearly six decades and are considered legends and pioneers of ska and reggae music who have made their mark with prolific hits. Hibbert was the first artist to even use the word “reggae” in the 1968 song Do the Reggay.
Just recently, the frontman participated in the annual Jamaica Festival Song Contest, which he has won three times, first with Bam Bam (1966), Sweet and Dandy in 1969, and again in 1972 with the Pomps and Pride.
Less than a week earlier before his hospitalization, he released his last album, Got to Be Tough. It was the first album to be released by Toots and the Maytals in more than a decade.