Fredrick 'Toots' Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals Dead at 77

Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, the legendary frontman of reggae pioneers Toots and the Maytals, has passed away at 77. The singer died Friday evening, and his family released no cause of death. However, Rolling Stone reports the singer was hospitalized in August after showing symptoms related to the coronavirus.

"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," an official statement from Hibbert's family said. "The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief. Mr. Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children."

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Toots and the Maytals recently released a new album titled Got to Be Tough, their first in over a decade, and acts as the closing bell for a career that blazed trails. According to Rolling Stone, Hibbert and the group helped build the genre and craft the sound. The singer even claimed to have coined the term reggae with the 1968 song "Do the Reggay."

Born December 8, 1942, in May Pen, Jamaica, Hibbert got his first taste of music singing in church with his brothers and sisters. His father and mother were both Seventh-day Adventist preachers, dying before Hibbert was a teenager. He then moved to Kingston with his brother, gaining the nickname "Little Toots" in the process. The Maytals came to be in 1962 after Jerry Matthius and Raleigh Gordon discovered Hibbert singing in a barbershop. From there, a storied career began that lasted up until 2019, according to Rolling Stone. The outlet spoke with the singer at the time where he described how he views his place in history.

"I don't know how I had that idea that I would be a prophet," Hibbert told Rolling Stone. "It was the spirit of the Lord moving through me in mysterious ways, it was inside me. To be a prophet you have to believe in yourself, believe in God, believe in what you do. You take your time, and you don't try to show off. A prophet can be a spiritual person or a fortune-teller, but if you tell somebody something and it don't come true, they won't believe you anymore. I try to always tell the truth."

Many music greats and reggae stars have spoken about Hibbert over the years and shared reactions to his death. Keith Richards talked to Rolling Stone in 2004 about Hibbert, lauding the singer as "amazing."

"His voice reminds me very much of the timbre of Otis Redding. When you hear him do 'Pain in My Heart,' it's an uncanny resemblance," The Rolling Stones legend told the outlet. "I think he knows himself. He's his own man, and he knows the contribution he's made, which is why he's still around. You know, whenever I get a call from Toots, I go running."

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Ziggy Marley also shared a touching post on Instagram about the singer, revealing that he spoke with the reggae legend weeks earlier before his passing.

"The Legendary Toots Hibbert has passed i spoke with him a few weeks ago told him how much i loved him and what he means to me, we laughed and shared our mutual respect," Marley wrote. "[I] am fully in sorrow tonight i will miss his smile and laughter his genuine nature [Toots Hibbert] was a father figure to me his spirit is with us his music fills us with his energy i will never forget him."