Toots Hibbert was born the youngest of seven children, born on December, 8, 1942 in rural May Pen, Jamaica. His parents were both preachers, and he was raised singing gospel in church. In 1962, Hibbert formed the Maytals as a vocal trio with Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias in Kingston, his soulful vocal style justly rendering him the “The Otis Redding of Reggae.”
Hibbert literally coined the word “Reggae” as a musical term in 1968 with the Maytals’ “Do the Reggay.” His songs have been sampled or covered by KRS-One, Keith Richards, the Clash, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, Sublime, The Specials, etc.
We lost reggae’s founding father back in September of 2020 due to coronavirus complications. Today, on what would have been his 80th birthday, we look back at the musical legacy he leaves behind, captured in ten important songs.
“Bam Bam” (1966)
“We Shall Overcome” (1968)
“I Shall Be Free” (1968)
“Bla Bla Bla” (1968)
“Pomps and Pride” (1972)
“Take Me Home Country Roads” (1972)
“Careless Ethiopians” (1981 and 2004)
“54-46 Was My Number” (1968 and 2004)
“Got To Be Tough” (2020)
The roots reggae icons returned in 2020 with the release of GRAMMY-nominated Got To Be Tough, their first LP in over 10 years.with its verse “Your days are getting shorter / Our youths are getting slaughtered / Things maybe hard, so hard / But we have to overcome it” addresses the exigencies faced by young black men in particular.