Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, one of reggae music’s founding fathers and icons of the genre, died on Friday, Sept. 11, at age 77.
His death was confirmed on his band Toots and the Maytals’ social media pages in a statement. “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,” it reads.
The statement goes on to “thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence,” before asking that the public respect his family and friends’ privacy at this time.
While no official cause has been given, Hibbert’s death comes just weeks following word that he was hospitalized and placed in a medically induced coma in an intensive care unit of a private Jamaican hospital after experiencing difficulty breathing. He became sick shortly after his last-known performance for Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence celebrations in August.
Once admitted, Hibbert was given a COVID-19 test due to various risk factors, including his symptoms and age, and was awaiting results at the time of his death. Statements from Hibbert’s camp were released during his time in the hospital that said he was making “positive progress.”
“While reports of Mr. Hibbert being in an intensive care unit at a private facility in the Corporate Area are true, the family would like to assure those concerned that he is making positive progress and is receiving the best possible treatment, while he awaits the results on his Covid-19 test,” the initial message about his hospitalization read. “He is resting and in good spirits, and is showing signs of improvement by the hour.”
Born on/around Dec. 8, 1942, (sources differ on the actual date) in May Pen, Jamaica, the icon was the lead vocalist of reggae band Toots and the Maytals. He also took credit as being the first to use the word reggae, in his song, “Do The Reggay.” Hibbert’s hits include “Pressure Drop,” “54-46 (That’s My Number),” “Monkey Man,” and “Funky Kingston.”
Fans and celebrities paid their respects to the father of the genre on social media.
“The Legendary Toots Hibbert has passed,” wrote Ziggy Marley. “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.”
“Rest in power to a legend who gave us so much 💗,” a fan stated.
“A sad [loss] to Jamaica and the world,” another commented. “Your music broke boundaries, brought people together and was simply good fun,” “Your live shows were some of the best with some much energy. You’ll be missed you legend. RIP Toots thank you.”
Hibbert is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years and his seven of eight children.