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Robbie Shakespeare, seminal reggae bassist, dies aged 68

Robbie Shakespeare
(Image credit: Ebet Roberts / Getty)

Seminal reggae bassist Robbie Shakespeare, who alongside Sly Dunbar made up one of the all time great rhythm sections, has died aged 68.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported that the Sly and Robbie star had died in Florida, where he'd recently been in hospital for kidney surgery, before Jamaica's Culture Minister Olivia Grange confirmed the reports, paying tribute to one of the country's greatest musicians.

"[Sly and Robbie] took bass playing and drumming to the highest level as they made music for themselves as a group, and for many other artistes locally and internationally," Grange said in a statement.

Reggae's most famous rhythm section. Sly and Robbie's awesome ability to make the one-drop groove tight and smooth, and a truly empathic musical relationship has inspired generations of bass players and drummers.

Estimated to have played on over 200,000 recordings – many on their own Taxi label – Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare joined up in the mid-'70s having already established themselves as prolific musicians in Jamaica. 

The duo were also a noted production team, having worked with everyone from Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh to Madonna, Grace Jones and Chaka Demus. And Pliers.

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