Toots Hibbert, Toots and the Maytals Singer, Dies at 77

Brenda Watkins
September 13, 2020

He was 77 years old.

"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", the statement continued.

The cause of death was not revealed, but his Facebook account confirmed on August 31 that Hibbert was tested for coronavirus in the last two weeks and placed in intensive care.

Married to his wife, Doreen, for almost 40 years, Hibbert had eight children, including the reggae performers Junior Hibbert and Leba Hibbert.

Hibbert was born in 1942 in May Pen, Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, the youngest of eight children.

The Maytals originally were a vocal trio featuring Hibbert, Henry "Raleigh" Gordon and Nathaniel "Jerry" Mathias, with the group later adding such instrumentalists as bassist Jackie Jackson and drummer Paul Douglas.

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One of his most popular songs was his rendition of John Denver's nostalgic (Take Me Home) Country Roads, in which West Virginia became West Jamaica.

Toots was credited as one of the first persons to the term reggae to describe the genre of music that emerged in the 1960s and elevated Jamaican music to world acclaim.

He was extremely close to Bob Marley, and the two men and their groups - the Maytals and the Wailers, respectively - would often perform together.

As with other reggae stars, Hibbert's following soared after the release of the landmark 1972 film, "The Harder They Come", which starred Jimmy Cliff as a poor Jamaican who moves to Kingston and dreams of a career in music. The bottle hit Hibbert in the head and gave him a concussion, which led to a three-year break in performing.

Just over a week ago, the prolific hitmaker, who has been in the business for close to six decades, released his latest album, Got To Be Tough, on the Trojan Jamaica label.

"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", Marley wrote with a teary-eyed emoji. See his statement below. Since his death, many in the reggae community have shared their condolences, including Ziggy Marley who had some kind words for the legend. Read his full note below. "As I stated earlier, we have lost another giant".

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