Reggae Legend Toots Hibbert Dies At 77

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tags: Caribbean, music, Jamaica, Reggae


One of the biggest voices in reggae has died.


TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS: (Singing) I said pressure drop, oh, pressure, oh, yeah, pressure gonna drop on you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Toots Hibbert was the lead singer and co-founder of Toots and the Maytals. His voice was compared to Otis Redding's, and his stage presence helped introduce the world to Jamaican music. Hibbert died Friday in a Kingston hospital. No cause of death was announced. He was 77 years old. NPR's Andrew Limbong has this appreciation.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: There's a scene in the seminal 1972 film "The Harder They Come" when country kid Ivan, played by singer Jimmy Cliff, catches some heat from his boss for not getting a delivery to a recording studio on time.


LIMBONG: Ivan watches, transfixed. Writer Lloyd Bradley says "The Harder They Come" helped introduce reggae to the rest of the world.

LLOYD BRADLEY: Toots and the Maytals were right in the center of it. And that's been a bond that's kind of never been broken.

LIMBONG: Bradley is the author of the book "This Is Reggae Music: The Story Of Jamaica's Music." And he says Toots Hibbert had the charisma and wherewithal to follow through on that worldwide success.

BRADLEY: So much about this is his presence as a performer.

LIMBONG: Toots Hibbert was born Frederick Hibbert in a small town less than an hour outside Kingston. He grew up singing gospel in church and brought that influence with him when he moved to the big city as a teenager. That's where he met two other singers with whom he formed the group that would become Toots and the Maytals.

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