Obituary Toots Hibbert The Man Who Coined The Word Reggae

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Obituary Toots Hibbert The Man Who Coined The Word Reggae

Toots Hibbert, frontman of the legendary reggae band Toots and the Maytals, has died at the age of 77.

One of Jamaica’s most influential musicians, he helped popularise reggae in the 1960s with songs like Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and Funky Kingston.

He even claimed to have coined the genre’s name, on 1968’s Do The Reggay.

Hibbert’s family said he had died on Friday. The cause was not disclosed, but he had recently been taken to hospital with Covid-like symptoms.

The musician was later placed in a medically induced coma, and a spokesman said the musician was “fighting for his life.”

A charismatic and soulful performer, Hibbert scored 31 number one singles in Jamaica.

Thanks to his full-throated vocals, he was often referred to as “The Otis Redding of Reggae” – but he was always Toots.

Barbershop beginnings

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The musician was born in May Pen, a town about 30 Miles west of Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, in December 1942.

The youngest of seven children, he grew up singing gospel music in a church choir – but it was school where he formed his ambition to become a performer.

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“We had to sing before class, sing in the morning,” he told BBC 6 Music in 2018. “And teacher said, ‘Yeah, you have the best voice,’ and gave me good encouragement.”

His mother, a midwife, died when he was eight, with his father dying three years later. As a teenager, he moved to Kingston, where he lived with his older brother John (who had nicknamed him “Little Toots”) and found work in a barbershop.

There, he struck a friendship with singers Jerry Matthius and Raleigh Gordon, with whom he formed the Maytals.

Obituary Toots Hibbert The Man Who Coined The Word Reggae

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