Reggae legend Frederick “Toots” Hibbert of the band Toots and the Maytals has died peacefully at the age of 77, his band said in a statement early Saturday morning. While no cause of death has been officially announced, Hibbert had been showing symptoms associated with the coronavirus and went to University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) to receive a coronavirus test last week, where he was put into a medically induced coma. “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,” said the Maytals in a statement.
Frederick “Toots” Hibbert was born in May Pen, Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, and grew up singing gospel music in his church choir. He would go on to found the Maytals with Ralphus “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias, which they named after Hibbert’s hometown of May Pen. Their 1968 song “Do the Reggae” is the first recorded song to include the word “reggae,” and is believed to have inspired the name for the genre we now know as reggae music, introducing it to a global audience. Toots and the Maytals would go on to become one of the most popular vocal groups in Jamaica, winning the Grammy for Best Reggae album in 2005. Toots and the Maytals continued to churn out music until recently, releasing their latest album, Got to Be Tough, on August 25, 2020. Toots is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and seven of his eight children.