Toots Hibbert, who passed away Friday night at the age of 77, 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.”
Ron Wood, Jagger’s bandmate in the Rolling Stones, recalled, “I’d like to send my condolences to the Hibbert family for my dear friend Toots Hibbert who passed away on Friday. I have very happy memories of playing with him, a lovely man and a great talent. Here we are talking about his song ‘Pressure Drop.’”
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.
Island Records, the label to which Hibbert and Marley were both signed at the height of their careers, wrote: “Very saddened to hear of the passing of Toots Hibbert. Speaking about his friend, Island’s founder Chris Blackwell once said “I’ve known Toots longer than anybody… Toots is one of the purest human beings I’ve met in my life, pure almost to a fault.”
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.