Frederick “Toots” Hibbert is a reggae legend, having coined the term Reggae with the release of his 1968 song “Do The Reggay”. His untimely passing came on 9/11/2020, exactly two weeks after releasing his final album, “Got To Be Tough.” Now, a petition has been launched requesting signatures for his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has never really accepted Reggae as an influence in furthering the development of Rock & Roll. Case in point, Bob Marley & Jimmy Cliff are the only Jamaican and reggae acts in the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame states that: “Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.”
Since the Hall of Fame was established in 1983, Bob Marley was added in 1994 and Jimmy Cliff in 2010. A strong case could be made for Toots Hibbert who spent more than 50 years developing, progressing & becoming an influential artist & musician in the reggae community which saw its momentum cross-over into rock & roll, R&B, Hip Hop and more.
Toots collaborated with No Doubt, Manu Chao, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Jeff Beck, and more when Toots and the Maytals won their first grammy in 2004 with the release of True Love. His music has been celebrated & covered by the likes of The Specials, The Clash & Sublime, among others.
Watch: Toots & They Maytals – “54-46 (Thats My Number)” (Live at Reggae On The River)
The 1968 release of “54-46 (Thats My Number)” is considered a defining song of Reggae & was one of the first reggae singles to receive widespread popularity outside of Jamaica. The song was actually written during his 8-month prison sentence for weed possession in 1966 after he won a competition during a music festival.
According to Hibbert in the book Reggae Routes: “The arrest was a thing that was planned, but I didn’t know about it until a policeman told me afterwards. A promoter planned it. They didn’t want me to go to England and hit first. That act affected my career seriously because I was about to go on the biggest tour of my career.”
54-46 was his inmate prison number. Whats worse, is Toots wasn’t even 18-years-old at the time of his arrest and had never even smoked weed up to that point. While he was sentenced to 18-months, he later claimed that he only served 8 months of that sentence because of his age. The result of that experience gave the world a timeless song in “54-46 (Thats My Number)”, as well as the aforementioned “Do The Reggay,” “Pressure Drop,” and “Monkey Man,” all of which was released in 1968.
Watch: Toots & The Maytals – “Do The Reggay” (Live on PressureDrop.tv)
Just scratching the surfaced highlight reel of his 50+ year career in music feels like Toots should have been inducted more than 20-years-ago. We can make our voices heard in support of Toots induction by signing your name to the petition by clicking HERE!
In the meantime, go down the rabbit hole of his music on your preferred streaming platform and make sure you check out the August 28th, 2020 release of his final record, “Got To Be Tough.”
Toots & The Maytals Website
Toots & The Maytals Facebook
Article By: Mike Patti
Photo By: In The Barrel Photo
Watch: Toots & The Maytals – “Pressure Drop” (Live – 11/15/1975)