Toots Hibbert

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The Honourable
Toots Hibbert
Toots Hibbert performing with Toots & the Maytals
Orlando, Florida Photo: Karl Simpson
Background information
Birth name Frederick Nathaniel Hibbert
Born (1942-12-08) 8 December 1942 (age 75)
May Pen, Jamaica
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Genres Ska, rocksteady, reggae, roots reggae
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, bandleader
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Associated acts Toots & the Maytals

Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert, O.J. (born 8 December 1942) is a Jamaican singer and songwriter, known as the leader for the reggae and ska band Toots & the Maytals.


Toots and the Maytals with Dave Matthews when performing together in 1998
Members from Toots & the Maytals and Dave Matthews Band when performing together in 1998. Paul Douglas (left), Carter Beauford (back), LeRoi Moore (front), Toots Hibbert (right).

Hibbert was born in May Pen, Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, the youngest of seven children, he grew up singing gospel music in a church choir. Hibbert moved to Kingston as an teenager in the early 1960s, met Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Matthias, and formed The Maytals. The Maytals became one of the more popular vocal groups in Jamaica in the 1960s, recording with producers Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Ronnie Nasralla and Leslie Kong. This success included winning Jamaica's National Popular Song Contest three times with songs Hibbert wrote: in 1966 with "Bam Bam", 1969 with "Sweet and Dandy" and 1972 with "Pomps & Pride".[1]

In 1966 he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of marijuana.[2] This experience provided the inspiration for one of his best known songs, "54-46 That's My Number".[2]

Hibbert was one of the first artists to use the word reggae, in 1968's "Do the Reggay". Reggae is listed in the dictionary as:[3]

reggae [reg-ey] (noun) - a style of Jamaican popular music blending blues, calypso, and rock-'n'-roll, characterized by a strong syncopated rhythm and lyrics of social protest. Origin of reggae: Jamaican English, respelling of reggay (introduced in the song “Do the Reggay” (1968) by Frederick “Toots” Hibbert)[3]

Excerpt from "The Rise of Reggae and the influence of Toots and the Maytals" by Matthew Sherman:[4]

In the winter of 1968, the cool rocksteady beat gave way to a faster, brighter, more danceable sound. Reggae was born. Toots heralded the new sound with the seminal, complex groove monster "Do the Reggay" advertising "the new dance, going around the town." Toots wanted "to do the Reggae, with you!" …From '69 to '71, Toots could do no wrong recording for Leslie Kong. With the consistent nucleus of musicians, the Beverley’s All-Stars (Jackie Jackson, Winston Wright, Hux Brown, Rad Bryan, Paul Douglas and Winston Grennan) and The Maytals’ brilliant harmonizing, Toots wrote and sang his unmistakable voice about every subject imaginable.[4]

The first Toots and the Maytals album released and distributed by Chris Blackwell’s Island Records was Funky Kingston. Music critic Lester Bangs described the album in Stereo Review as “perfection, the most exciting and diversified set of reggae tunes by a single artist yet released.[5]Chris Blackwell had a strong commitment to Toots and the Maytals, saying “I’ve known Toots longer than anybody – much longer than Bob (Bob Marley). Toots is one of the purest human beings I’ve met in my life, pure almost to a fault.[6]

Hibbert also appeared in the groundbreaking Jamaican film The Harder They Come. The film's soundtrack included the Maytals' 1969 hit song "Pressure Drop".

On 1 October 1975 Toots and the Maytals were broadcast live on KMET-FM as they performed at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. This broadcast was re-mastered and released as an album entitled “Sailin’ On” via Klondike Records.[7]

Much of Hibbert's recorded output reflects his Evangelical Christian upbringing. Hibbert has been known to write about Rastafarian religious themes as well, and in an early Maytals song, Six And Seven Books of Moses from 1963, he addressed the folk magic of obeah and its use of the occult literature of Biblical grimoires, such as the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.

A multi-instrumentalist, Hibbert can play every instrument used in his band.[8]

21st century[edit]

Toots still tours the world, and his band won the Grammy for best reggae album in 2004.

In 2005, Willie Nelson released a reggae album entitled "Countryman" which featured Hibbert on the song "I'm a Worried Man”.[9] Hibbert was also featured in the official music video for Willie Nelson’s "I'm a Worried Man”, which was filmed in Jamaica.[10]

In 2006, Toots & the Maytals covered Radiohead's "Let Down" for the Easy Star All-Stars album Radiodread, a reggae version of the English rock band's OK Computer.

In 2007 Hibbert was featured in the official concert video release of “Willie Nelson and Friends - Outlaws & Angels”.[11][12]

In 2009, Hibbert collaborated with executive producer Malik Al Nasir of MediaCPR and Steel Pulse's Sidney Mills, who produced Jamaican percussionist Larry McDonald's album Drumquestra. His track is called "What about the Children?", a house track with accompanying video shot on location in New York. The same year he also performed vocals with Iowa reggae band Public Property on their album Work to Do.

Hibbert was also a judge for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[13]

Hibbert collaborated with the Jacksonville, Florida southern rock/blues group, JJ Grey & MOFRO. He is featured in their song, "The Sweetest Thing", on their album, Georgia Warhorse.

In 2011, Hibbert was featured in the documentary released by Director George Scott and Producer Nick De Grunwald called “Reggae Got Soul: The Story of Toots and the Maytals” which was featured on BBC.[14] Described as “The untold story of one of the most influential artists ever to come out of Jamaica”, it features appearances by Marcia Griffiths, Jimmy Cliff, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Anthony DeCurtis, Ziggy Marley, Chris Blackwell, Paolo Nutini, Paul Douglas, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare.[15][16]

Hibbert joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a performance of "Louie Louie" during their New Year's Eve performance on 31 December 2011 held in St. Barts by Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich. The private bash was invitation only and around 300 guests including George Lucas, Martha Stewart, Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Buffett attended the party at Abramovich's $90 million estate.[17]

In May 2013 Hibbert received a head injury after being hit by a thrown bottle during a performance at the River Rock Festival in Richmond, forcing him to cancel several months of live shows.[18]

The bottle was thrown by William C Lewis. Lewis was facing a charge of malicious wounding, but he pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Despite Toots pleading in a letter to the judge, "He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail. My own pain and suffering would be increased substantially knowing that this young man would face that prospect," the judge gave Lewis a six-month sentence.[19]

Toots Hibbert is in no way related to former Everton stalwart Tony Hibbert.

Toots and the Maytals have been cited as inspiration for other music artists when it comes to career longevity. Jamaican artist Sean Paul explains this by saying, “I’ve seen some great people in my industry, you know, people like Toots…Toots and the Maytals. Toots he’s a great reggae artist and he’s still doing it…He’s up there in years and he’s doing it. Those kind of artists inspire me. I know I’m just going to keep on doing music as long as I can.”[20]

Hibbert provides uncredited vocals for the Major Lazer and Bad Royale collaboration, "My Number", which samples Hibbert's earlier song "54-46 That's My Number".


In August 2012 it was announced that Hibbert would receive Jamaica's fifth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica.[21]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Singing the jailhouse rock", Jamaica Observer, 25 November 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2012
  3. ^ a b "reggae". Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.
  4. ^ a b Sherman, Matthew. "The Rise of Reggae and the Influence of Toots and the Maytals." The Rise of Reggae, and the Influence of Toots and the Maytals. The Dread Library, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
  5. ^ "Toots and the Maytals." Contemporary Musicians. . 6 Oct. 2016 <>.
  6. ^ Katz, David. "Toots and the Maytals’ Live: From Stage to Wax in 24 Hours." Red Bull Music Academy. Red Bull Music Academy, 19 June 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
  7. ^ Toots and the Maytals (1975) Sailin’ On. Obiterdictum. Web. Retrieved 15 November 2016. <>
  8. ^ album sleeve of DJ Derek Presents… Sweet Memory Sounds (2006).
  9. ^ Deusner, Stephen. “The Red-Headed Stranger goes...reggae.” Pitchfork. Condé Nast. 24 Jul 2005. Web. <> Retrieved 20 Dec 2016
  10. ^ WillieNelsonVEVO. "Willie Nelson - I'm A Worried Man Ft. Toots Hibbert." YouTube. YouTube, 11 Aug. 2011. Music video by Willie Nelson performing I'm A Worried Man. (C) 2005 UMG Recordings, Inc. Web. 20 Dec. 2016. <>
  11. ^ “Willie Nelson and Friends - Outlaws & Angels”. Eagle Rock Entertainment. DVD. 2007. Retrieved 20 Dec 2016. <>
  12. ^ “Willie Nelson and Friends - Outlaws & Angels”. Eagle Rock Entertainment. DVD. 2007. Retrieved 20 Dec 2016. <>
  13. ^ "Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  14. ^ “Toots and the Maytals: Reggae Got Soul”. BBC Four (documentary). Directed by George Scott. UK. 2011. 59 min. Retrieved 15 Dec. 2016. <>
  15. ^ Tootsandthemaytals. "Toots & The Maytals - Reggae Got Soul - Documentary Trailer." YouTube. YouTube, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2016. <>
  16. ^ “Toots and the Maytals: Reggae Got Soul”. Honolulu Museum of Art. Film Showing - Doris Duke Theatre. 01 July 2015. Web. Retrieved 15 Dec. 2016. <>
  17. ^ "Red-hot party | Page Six". 2 January 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "'Time Will Tell' Says Toots", Jamaica Gleaner, 13 October 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013
  19. ^ "Man gets jail time despite "Toots" Hibbert's plea – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Crime News". 13 December 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  20. ^ “Sean Paul”. The Breakfast Club. Nov 21, 2016. Web. <> Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  21. ^ Bonitto, Brian (2012) "Tosh gets OM", Jamaica Observer, 7 August 2012, retrieved 7 August 2012

External links[edit]