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Toots & The Maytals

While they never achieved the commercial success or cultural impact of the Wailers, Toots & the Maytals were nearly as important in the history of Jamaican music; like the Wailers, the Maytals thrived as ska gave way to rocksteady and then evolved into reggae, they boasted one of the island's finest singers and most charismatic frontmen in the great Toots Hibbert, and they worked with many of the most important producers and sidemen on the island. The Maytals were also the band that most clearly demonstrated the links between Jamaican sounds and American R&B (Hibbert's rich, emotive vocal style was informed by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and other soul icons), and the group's catalog contains a number of crucial, frequently covered tracks, most notably the classic "Pressure Drop."

Toots & the Maytals were founded by Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, who was born in May Pen, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica in 1945. Hibbert was the youngest in a family of seven children, and first took up singing as a member of the church choir. In 1961, Hibbert set out for Kingston, and struck up a friendship with Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias and Henry "Raleigh" Gordon, a pair of singers with a smattering of recording experience. The three formed a vocal group, and in 1962 they were discovered by producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, who signed them to his Studio One label. After releasing a debut single, "Hallelujah," under the name the Vikings, the trio became known as the Maytals, and beginning with "Fever," they issued a number of singles that were compiled into the 1963 album Never Grow Old. The Maytals' Studio One sides featured accompaniment by the legendary Jamaican band the Skatalites, and were dominated by strong, gospel-influenced close harmonies and Hibbert's soulful lead vocals. After two years with Studio One, the Maytals briefly worked with producer and ska pioneer Prince Buster before signing on with another Jamaican record man of note, Byron Lee, in 1965. The Lee-produced material showed the Maytals were developing a more mature and polished approach, but the group hit a serious roadblock in 1966, when Hibbert was arrested for possession of marijuana; he was convicted, and would serve a year behind bars.

In 1967, Hibbert was a free man, and he reunited with Matthias and Gordon, renaming the group Toots & the Maytals. Hibbert's stay in prison coincided with ska fading from the musical landscape in Jamaica as the proto-reggae sounds of rocksteady took its place. The new style suited Toots & the Maytals, and they signed with producer Leslie Kong, with whom the group would record some of its biggest hits, including "Pressure Drop," "Sweet and Dandy," "Monkey Man," "54-46 (That's My Number)," and "Do the Reggay," the latter often cited as the song that gave the new style of music its name. When "Monkey Man" became a British hit in 1970, Toots & the Maytals began enjoying success outside Jamaica for the first time, and in 1972, "Pressure Drop" and "Sweet and Dandy" were featured on the soundtrack of the film The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff. The movie was a smash in Jamaica and became an art house sensation in the United States, as the film and its soundtrack album helped make American listeners aware of the growing reggae phenomenon.

In 1971, Leslie Kong died, and Warwick Lyn, Kong's primary recording engineer, took over as the group's producer; Chris Blackwell, whose Island Records label was enjoying success releasing reggae material in the U.K. and U.S. (particularly Bob Marley & the Wailers), also joined their production team, and before long he would sign the group to Island, releasing a revamped version of the album Funky Kingston in the United States in 1975. That same year, Toots & the Maytals made their American concert debut opening a tour for the Who, though their stateside audience gave Toots a cool reception. With the 1976 album Reggae Got Soul, Island hoped to open up Toots & the Maytals to the R&B audience in America, but while the album was well received, their American following remained little more than a lively cult. Toots & the Maytals focused on pleasing their Jamaican and British fans with their next two albums, 1979's Pass the Pipe and 1980's Just Like That, and they made their way into The Guinness Book of World Records with their next release, Live; recorded during a concert at London's Hammersmith Palais, an early limited-edition release of the LP was available in shops within 24 hours of the performance it captured. By this time, a new generation of fans was discovering the Maytals after the Clash covered "Pressure Drop" and the Specials included "Monkey Man" on their debut album.

Following the release of the 1981 album Knock Out!, the trio split up, and Matthias and Gordon retired from the music business, while Hibbert continued as a solo artist. While Hibbert stayed busy as a live act, he didn't record again until 1988, when after playing a well-received set at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, he was approached by the head of Mango Records about cutting an album of American soul and R&B classics. Toots in Memphis paired Hibbert with the powerhouse Jamaican rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and members of the Hi Records and Stax Records studio bands. The album was enthusiastically received by critics and earned Hibbert a Grammy nomination. In the mid-'90s, Hibbert assembled a new version of Toots & the Maytals without Gordon and Matthias, and toured extensively while recording a handful of albums for various reggae specialist labels. Toots & the Maytals made a high-profile comeback in 2004 with the album True Love, in which Toots re-recorded a number of his best and best-known songs with a stellar collection of guest stars, including Eric Clapton, No Doubt, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, and the Roots. After this Grammy-winning collection of duets, Hibbert stepped back to the spotlight on his own for 2007's Light Your Light, and in 2012 his latest edition of the Maytals set out on a global acoustic tour to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their recording debut. A pair of concert albums, Reggae Got Soul: Unplugged on Strawberry Hill and Live! appeared that same year. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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daryl.gray47
I always thought of Toot as raggae music His first hit Raggae Got Soul was like a raggae anthem
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Toots will always be a big part of my soundtrack. He's been with me through so many milestones already
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;-). Gatherings become parties when you hear toots. Parties become hootinannies . Take care cause the next step is a lot of fun but benders can be a bit rough
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dlindsay510
Yeah man 54 46 maytals
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grizzlyjusti c e
I luv all the a**holes that feel the need to school everyone on the difference between ska and reggae, so on, so on. Just let the people enjoy the music, whatever they want to call it...
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KINGSMEN not THE TROGGS.... duh :p
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sorry... the song was 'Louie Louie'...
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MY SONG :)... How many versions of this song are out there??? Motorhead does one. who were the original, The TROGGS?
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I have been so blessed to get to see Toots perform live. Thanks to SNWMF for that!
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Nice song I never this one before it so good music,coming from ,Roots,& Maytals,,!!!
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Ah yes sing it TOOTS! Experienced his unplugged show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, SOCAL in Nov, 2012?, just before he got hurt East, but his previous 'plugged' shows were, as usual, pure soulful music and talent!
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jjrice.2010
Jah Rastafar-I
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Reggae born history, song speak to evryone soul ,spiritual peace fr th soul, mindful jus relax and let it go
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ironbar69
Reggae Got Soul!
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To matthemaui, I am a huge Phish fan, and I love this so much!
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I got my first toots and the maytals in 1970. My big sister hitchhiked from Perth, Western Australia, across India, Aphganistan. . etc to London Town. She lived in Brixton and sent her little brother (me) his first reggae album. Toots and the Maytals.I was a lucky boy. Changed my life.
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Last week, my laptop was stolen. I have been in withdrawals for 7 days ----------- no pandora----- - - . It is a bad life without music mon. (I bought a new laptop yesterday)
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so hard......hi g h e r and higher...... . . .
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Toots always makes me smile.


And tap a toe
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Toots is the best live act I have seen. He gives an amazing amount of energy to the audience. Been to 5 of his concerts and I hope to see more!
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Love me some Toots & Red Stripe...... . . . . D o Never Test
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Love this old ska and reggae!
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No Stevo, the British ska revival of the late 1970's evolved from reggae. The original ska dates to the early 1960's in Jamaica. The writer is correct: first ska then rocksteady then reggae.
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Bonne musique j'aime toute les chansons! !!
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Reggae did not evolve from ska, ska evolved from reggae.
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A cassette of toots and a boom box transformed a wing of the Orlando airport into a full on dance party back in 1984. Our senior trip to Disney was made longer by a cancelled flight. That tape made the delay one of the highlights. Strangers stopped to dance with us. Some stayed a while! Toots is pure fun. 9 years later I told him that story at a bar in the Virgin Islands, we laughed, drank and he sang for some of the same people that were in the airport. Love Toots and the Maytalls
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Sing it to me Toots!!
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classic
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He is the best!
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I recognize Toots voice from a mile away!
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eastmanm69
Good Lord this song makes me so happy yet in
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great work on the lyrics....NO T !
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Coined the word "reggea" and Ska at its best...Thank you Toots Hibbert
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3rd wave ska punk is better!
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brazilcd2
Classic! Big up!
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wizkidhoops
wrong lyrics
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Happy Music!!!
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These guys are the king of ska! People this is ska not reggae learn the difference.
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One of the best ever. Tops Marley any day.
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I met Jerry fr toots snd the maytals in 1988 singing some of his hits they sound good
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If they are in concert, go see them because they are 1 of the originals of ska
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These guys can probably party pretty good heh!?!? Can we go tthe beach now ?
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cjh48rasta
Yes I
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mrschaffins
wow
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Great stuff here.
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true reggae
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lovely melodic reggae.
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No rival to the energy Toots puts into a live show. Love the leather pants too.
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Toots say everyone want heaven no one want dead. Toots say equal rights and justice... Smitty say I and I One Love. Respectfully The1Roseman
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outstanding
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