Frederick "Toots" Hibbert Biography

Songwriter, Singer (c. 1946–)
Musician Frederick "Toots" Hibbert helped define reggae with his band Toots and the Maytals. Their 2004 album, True Love, won a Grammy in 2005.


Reggae musician Frederick "Toots" Hibbert was born in 1946 in May Pen, Jamacia. He formed the Maytals in the 1960s. The band became known for their harmonies and ska backbeat. Their 1968 single "Do the Reggay" helped give the music genre its name. They also appeared in The Harder They Come, a 1972 movie about reggae. Toots & the Maytals won a Grammy for their 2004 release True Love.

Early Career

Reggae musician, singer, songwriter, innovator Toots Hibbert was born as Frederick Hibbert in May Pen, Clarendon, Jamaica, in 1946.

Hibbert, Nathaniel "Jerry" Mathias and Raleigh Gordon formed the Maytals in the early 1960s. Their music was characterized by a grooving ska backbeat, soulful harmonies and a sun-drenched passion for having a good time. Like such reggae luminaries as Lee "Scratch" Perry and Bob Marley & The Wailers, the Maytals are responsible for some of the biggest hits in reggae history, including "Pressure Drop," "Sweet And Dandy" and "54-46 (That's My Number)."

Acclaimed Musician

In 1966, Hibbert was jailed for possession of marijuana. At that time, he wrote the classic reggae gem "54-46," which referred the number of his cell block. Hibbert was released after 18 months. By this time, R&B and ska music was revolutionizing the music world from New Orleans to Jamaica, and Toots was among the many influential reggae musicians to take notice.

In 1968, Toots & the Maytals' released the hit single "Do the Reggay," which gave the burgeoning genre its name. By 1971, the Maytals were stars in Jamaica. The group was featured in the landmark reggae film The Harder They Come in 1972, which introduced an international audience to the Maytals' appeal.

Toots & The Maytals released True Love in 2004, a retrospective all-star collaboration featuring rock's upper echelon (Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and Trey Anastasio), country icons (Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt), modern ska rockers (No Doubt), new folk-rock disciples (Ryan Adams and Ben Harper) a modern dancehall star (Shaggy), a funk icon (Bootsy Collins), rap innovators (The Roots) along with venerable reggae veterans (Bunny Wailer, The Skatalites). In April 2004, Toots performed material from True Love on Saturday Night Live.

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