Reggae royalty Toots Hibbert dies, aged 77

(Image credit: Richard E. Aaron / Getty)

Toots Hibbert, reggae pioneer and singer with Toots & The Maytals has died, aged 77 in a Kingston, Jamaica hospital.

A family statement confirmed, “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 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.”

No cause of death has been confirmed, but Hibbert had been admitted to intensive care on 1 September, suffering with suspected Covid-19. The singer passed away just two weeks after the release of his latest album, Got To Be Tough.

Toots was hugely influential, even credited with inventing the word reggae itself, mispronouncing the Jamaican term “streggae” as “reggae” on 1968 tune Do The Reggay (above).

"In Jamaica we had a slang," he told the BBC. "If we're not looking so good, if we're looking raggedy, we'd call it 'streggae'. That's where I took it from."

Hibbert fronted Toots & The Maytals from the early '60s, clocking up influential hits such as Pressure Drop, 54-46 (That's My Number) and Monkey Man. 

They signed to Island Records in the early '70s, and appeared in the movie The Harder They Come in 1972.

Stars from across the music world are paying tribute.

Will Groves

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