(CMR) Legendary musician and Jamaican reggae pioneer Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert has died at the age of 77 after testing positive for the coronavirus.
He died at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew on Friday where he had been hospitalized for more than a week in intensive care.
The legendary musician fronted the reggae and ska band Toots & the Maytals from the early 1960s Hibbert “passed away peacefully” in Kingston, Jamaica surrounded by his family, the group announced on Friday.
Hibbert is credited with popularising reggae music and even naming the genre – his 1968 single “Do the Reggay” is the first song to use the term.
Other popular tracks include Pressure Drop, Sweet and Dandy, and 54-46 That's My Number.
In a statement, the band and Hibbert's family thanked medical staff “for their care and diligence”. He is survived by his wife and seven of his eight children.
His death comes just weeks before the release of Got to Be Tough, the band's first full-length album in more than a decade.
Described as “the world's greatest living reggae singer” in a Rolling Stone profile last month, his vocal style has been compared to Otis Redding. The magazine lists him as one of the 100 greatest singers of all time.
The youngest of seven children, Hibbert’s parents were both Seventh-Day Adventist ministers and he grew up singing in church. He moved to the country’s capital of Kingston as a teenager and formed the first version of the Maytals in the early 1960s.
Hibbert’s death comes just weeks after Toots and the Maytals released their new album, Got to Be Tough, the band’s first full-length LP in more than 10 years and now a capstone for Hibbert’s remarkable six-decade career. Hibbert was instrumental in not only bringing reggae to the world, but crafting its sound and — by his own account — coining its name on his 1968 song “Do the Reggay.”