Toots Hibbert, the frontman of Toots and the Maytals credited with coining the term “reggae” as a genre descriptor, has passed away at 77.
Hibbert died on Friday according to his family, who did not disclose his cause of death. He had been admitted to University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica after suffering COVID-19-like symptoms.
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… pic.twitter.com/zOb6yRpJ7n
— Toots & The Maytals (@tootsmaytals) September 12, 2020
Born in 1942 in Clarendon, Jamaica, Hibbert was raised by strict Seventh-Day Adventist parents and sang in the gospel choir. They both died young, leaving him to fend for himself at the age of 11. He relocated to Kingston to live with his brother, and worked in a barbershop where he met Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Matthias, who would become his bandmates when they founded The Maytals in 1960.
Hibbert played no small role in shaping early reggae; The Maytals’ 1968 song, “Do the Reggay,” is said to be where it derives its name. Songs like “Sweet and Dandy” and “Pressure Drop” further solidified the sound, which would go on to influence genres like dancehall, dub, hip-hop, jungle and drum and bass concurrent with the rise of sound system culture
Toots Hibbert is survived by Miss D, his wife of 39 years, and seven of his eight children.