Toots Hibbert Honored by Ziggy Marley, Mick Jagger
Toots Hibbert, who passed away Friday night at the age of 77, just two weeks after the release of his latest album “Got to Be Tough,” was one of the last surviving founders of reggae music. The influence of his six-decade career is evidenced by the wide variety of artists paying tribute to him in the hours after his death.
Ziggy Marley, recording artist and son of reggae titan Bob — who was a friend and contemporary of Hibbert’s — wrote, “The Legendary Toots Hibbert has passed. i spoke w/him a few wks ago told him how much i loved him we laughed & shared our mutual respect. He was a father figure to me his spirit is w/us his music fills us w/his energy i will never forget him RIP MIGHTY & POWERFUL NYAH FYAH BALL.”
Mick Jagger, who signed reggae legend Peter Tosh to the Rolling Stones’ label in the 1970s, wrote, “So sad to hear of Toots Hibbert’s passing. When I first heard Pressure Drop that was a big moment – he had such a powerful voice and on stage he always gave the audience his total energy. A sad loss to the music world.”
Keith Richards and Ron Wood, Jagger’s bandmates in the Rolling Stones, both called Hibbert a friend.
Neville Staple of the Specials, the leading group of the late 1970s ska movement in England, wrote, “Devastating news about Toots. This great man of music led the way for so many. May he rest easy and his music continue to light up the World. Travel well my friend!”
The Specials’ contemporaries UB40, and Pauline Black of the Selecter, paid homage as well.
Country legend Willie Nelson, who recorded a reggae album in 2005 that Hibbert guested on, paid tribute on Saturday.
Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, the label to which both Hibbert and Marley were signed at the peak of their careers, said in a statement: “Toots has been a giant of Jamaican music for almost 60 years. He wrote the song ‘Do The Reggae,’ which gave the name REGGAE which took over from SKA. Toots wrote and performed so many great songs all across the world and had just completed a totally new album which was planned for release this year. Toots was always his own self, full of energy, laughter and hard work. Over the years I have spent many days in recording studios with Toots and will always remember a song I produced with him called FUNKY KINGSTON which became one of his big hits. It is so sad that he has been taken from all of us”
The influential reggae label Trojan Records paid homage as well. “Trojan mourns the passing of legendary reggae icon Toots Hibbert, frontman of the groundbreaking reggae and ska group Toots & The Maytals. Our condolences to all his family, friends, and loved ones..”
The long-running British group Massive Attack, which fused R&B, reggae and other styles into its sound beginning in the late 1980s, paid tribute as well, demonstrating the multiple generations that Hibbert influenced.