Second Grammy win for Toots and The MaytalBy Kevin Jackson, Jamaica ObsERVER
March 15, 2021 – Singer Leba Hibbert is overjoyed that Got to Be Tough, the last studio album released by Toots and The Maytals, won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album yesterday.
The event was held virtually at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The band’s leader was her father, Toots Hibbert, who died last September due to complications from COVID-19.
“This is so bittersweet. He died and didn’t get to accept the award himself. However, we are celebrating his win and we are grateful,” Hibbert, who also provided back-up duties for her father, told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the announcement
“This signifies more recognition to my father’s work and more fans. This is a great record and the songs speak about the times that we are living in. I’d say his win is historical,” she added. Continue reading →
Kingston, Jamaica – In the early days of Jamaican popular music, our female singers and songwriters played a major role in propelling our music onto the world stage. In fact, the first major international Jamaican hit recording was by one of Jamaica’s female pioneers, Millie Small, with her 1964 million-selling single “My Boy Lollipop.” Its success opened the doors for such artists as Phyllis Dillon, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Hortense Ellis, Pam Hall, Rita Marley, Carlene Davis, J.C. Lodge, Cynthia Schloss, Lorna Bennett, Dawn Penn, Sheila Hylton, and Nadine Sutherland, all of whom established themselves as mainstream recording and performing artists.
For some strange reason, however, the early achievements of our female artists did not result in the kind of follow-through seen by their male counterparts. For many years, we have failed to produce top-class female Reggae recording artists and performers. With the exception of the local and international successes of Diana King, Patra, Sasha, Foxy Brown, and Lady Saw, female Reggae and Dancehall artists have become a very scarce commodity over the last 25 years.Continue reading →
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry Talks Bob Marley, Dub, Reggae, Production
Berklee Online’s Pat Healy talks with 84-year-old Lee “Scratch” Perry about his one-of-a-kind legacy and career. This bizarre and winding interview is available in all its strangeness and entirety at Hypebot.com
Pat Healy: “As a music producer, he arguably invented reggae in the late 1960s and early 70s, and he inarguably invented dub in the mid-1970s at his famed Black Ark Studio in Jamaica. He was Bob Marley’s mentor, producing some of his first recordings. It’s possible he also invented sampling, using the sound of a crying baby to begin his song “People Funny Boy” in 1968, a scathing song against one of his rival producers.” Scratch has collaborated with the Clash, Beastie Boys, George Clinton, and Keith Richards, among others.
The conversation that follows takes a lot of twists and turns and some of his answers were so different from the questions asked. So, to help, the writer* interrupts every now and then to provide context. For example….
PH: You grew up with what, four siblings?
LP: Yeah, I grew up with revolution. *PH: So yeah, he grew up with revolution. Okay, back to the interview … LP: I grew up with revolution in my brain, revolution in my leg, and revolution in my head.
Were there songs in your family before you went off to Kingston, music that you liked? Well, I liked “Charlie Brown,” like pop music. Yeah, I was loving pop music and [songs like, “Yakety Yak” by the Coasters] “Take out those papers and the trash, or you won’t get no spending cash.” I am a lover of pop music. So I reckon my number one spot is Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson? You’d been recording for years before you heard him, right? Well, I love stars that are uncommon. I’m really a pop music lover. I really love hip-hop music. I love hip-hop music even more than reggae music. Reggae music is okay. I love the American artists, them so much because the American artists have super very good voice [laughs]. So I was always listening to good singers. I love good singers; I love real singers. I watched Bob Marley in that duration before reggae becomes so common. So, most of the stars that I have put up were coming from the American singers. You know what I mean? So, I mean to say if you want to hear about something like “Me love Jamaica because they’re my people,” but they actually are too nice to me and they’re like raggamuffin, and me no like raggamuffin. Me like special artists. James Brown is my friend [laughs].
James Brown? Yeah, was my friend.
Yeah Rolling Stones are my friend. I don’t like to see what will happen to the Americans because most of the American singers, I learned from them and I love them. I don’t know what will happen to the good singers in America to find a way out, to find freedom, because if all of the American singers die, I will cry.
Yeah, I mean singers are our last shot. It will be too boring without the American singers.
*PH: Okay, here is the first interruption! So, at this point, he is talking about how he’d be sad if all of the American singers died because he is referring back to a theory that he revealed when our conversation first started, that the coronavirus is affecting America so badly now because the American government gave Bob Marley cancer. Are you following? He is actually not the only one to believe the second part of this. Most biographers of Bob Marley will acknowledge that there was definitely a suspicious amount of interest the FBI and CIA had in the reggae superstar, and that the agency considered him a threat. Maybe he would inspire a great uprising? Maybe his songs were too political. Most biographers will acknowledge that yes, there is at least some credible evidence that the American government had something to do with the 1978 assassination attempt against Bob Marley, but there is little credible evidence to support the theory that a device the American government had placed in Bob Marley’s shoe caused the cancer that killed him in 1981. However, there are some people who believe that. Lee “Scratch” Perry seems to be one of those people. And he also seems to believe that the virus is karmic retribution.
LP: American scientists and American Obeah men and American beasts gave Bob Marley cancer, in a year. They gave Bob Marley cancer and them could not find the answer. Why did they give Bob Marley cancer? If they give Bob Marley cancer, then Bob Marley give them the virus [laughs].
THE TRAGIC DEMISE OF “MYSTIC MAN” PETER TOSH – V5#5 1987
By M. Peggy Quattro
The mystery surrounding the violent death of Reggae Superstar PETER TOSH is as complex and mysterious as the man himself. The many reports, stories, assumptions, and speculations leave a shroud of doubt and suspicion in staggering proportions.
What a dark day for Reggae and a sad and shameful day for mankind.
What is known to date is that on the evening of Friday, September 11, 1987, three gunmen on motorcycles entered Tosh’s Plymouth Avenue residence in Barbican, Kingston, Jamaica. Apparently known by Tosh, the three were in the house for a short while before the massacre began. What a dark day for Reggae and a sad and shameful day for mankind. One of the killers, Dennis Lobban, turned himself into the Kingston Police only days later, following a warrant issued for his arrest and the involvement of Interpol (the international police force.) Two others are still being detained, their names as yet unannounced.
A Robbery Gone Wrong
The first to be fired upon was Marlene Brown, long-time girlfriend and Tosh’s current manager and accountant. Winston “Doc” Brown was shot and killed on the spot, with Peter being shot several times and reportedly beat about the head. He died hours later at the University of the West Indies Hospital. Radio personality Jeff “Free I” Dixon also received shots to the head resulting in his death days later. Also wounded were Free I‘s wife Joy, Peter’s drummer Carlton “Santa” Davis, and another friend named Michael Robinson. Continue reading →
Spragga Benz’s Son, Carlton Grant, Jr., Killed by Kingston Police
Article and Photo by Brittany Somerset
Sept. 5, 2008 Kingston, Jamaica – A source in Jamaica, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, spoke exclusively to Brittany Somerset about the tragic, untimely demise of 17-year-old Carlton “Carlie” Grant, Jr, son of Reggae veteran Spragga Benz, who was allegedly murdered by police in downtown Kingston, late in the evening on August 23, 2008.
It’s reported that at approximately 11:50 p.m., Carlie and a friend were leaving a video game rental store on the corner of Church and East Queen St. The friend begins, “Carlie was stopped on his bicycle while coming from the store with a teenage friend. Police stopped him and told him to get off his bike, and he obeyed. He identified himself. He said, ‘I’m Spragga Benz’s son.’ The police smirked as if in disbelief. They did not think Spragga’s son would be in the ghetto, but he was visiting family. The police fired one shot into the air, and told them to run. Carlie’s friend took off running. Carlie stayed where he was, with his hands in the air. One of the policemen whispered something to a second officer, and the officer then shot him at point blank range in the face. They executed him. All reports of Carlie having a gun, firing at police, or running, are completely false. Carlie stayed at the scene, and declared himself. After they shot him once in the face, and when he collapsed to the ground, he was shot a second time. This was murder.” Continue reading →
Update 9/11/2020:It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Toots Hibbert last night, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Toots was surrounded by family inside Kingston’s UWI Hospital when he lost his battle with COVID. The world mourns and offers condolences to the Hibbert family, Toots’s band & crew, his friends, and fans. Rest in peace, kind sir, your legacy lives on.
This intro below was written before Toots’ passing. It announces his new album, Got To Be Tough, his first in 10 years, released on Aug. 28, 2020. Follow the link to the story by Jason Fine included below for one of the best articles you’ll ever find on the life & music of Frederick “Toots” Hibbert. ~M. Peggy Quattro
TOOTS HIBBERT, the Godfather of Ska & Reggae Soul, returns to his roots on Got to be Tough, his first album in 10 years, released Aug. 28, 2020. Tracks on the new album include the title track, as well as “Warning Warning,” “Freedom Train,” and “Three Little Birds” featuring Ziggy Marley. The album is produced by Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr. Toots plays guitar and bass, Sly Dunbar is on drums, and one of the engineers is legend Delroy “Fatta” Pottinger.
Below is the intro to a recent article by Rolling Stones writer Jason Fine. It is the best story I’ve ever read about Jamaica’s music legend, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert. His family and friends call him “Nyah,” those who know and love him call him “Fireball.” Take a journey with Jason as he hangs out with Toots in 2016 to witness first-hand his musical magic and to record this interview of a lifetime. Those who know Toots – and those who want to – will surely enjoy the detail, history, and humor Jason brings to life in this Rolling Stone’s article. Trust mi, I laughed till I cried as Jason illustrates with words why Toots Hibbert is a treasure… our treasure. We are so blessed to have him in our lifetime. Enjoy!
“He’s a person of such historical significance, like an Elvis or a BB King,…” ~singer/musician Bonnie Raitt
A Reggae King Rises Again
Toots Hibbert is one of the pioneers of reggae — and wrote many of its classic hits. After a devastating injury, the man they call Fireball is back to reclaim his throne
By Jason Fine – Rolling Stone.com, Aug. 18, 2020
It took two years of phone calls and confusing negotiations to get myself invited to visit Toots Hibbert at his fortress-like pink stucco compound in the Red Hills section of Kingston, Jamaica. When I finally arrived, he wasn’t home. No one around seemed to know the whereabouts of the world’s greatest living reggae singer. His grandson, an aspiring reggae artist who calls himself King Trevi, was perched on some concrete steps and suggested that maybe Toots went to the gym. A woman hanging laundry on a rope strung across the dirt yard thought he’d gone to the country. Someone said he might be napping. Continue reading →
Prelude 2020:Jimmy Cliff plays an important part in my evolutionary journey inside Reggae and Reggae Report. He was the first Reggae artist I ever heard in 1976 and became my first Reggae friend while working with Don Taylor in 1981. When the magazine took off in ’83, Jimmy most kindly invited me to stay at his home whenever I went to Kingston to conduct business. He wasn’t there most of those times but my hospitable friend Shiela and their young sons, Sayeed and Hassan, were. ♥ This interview – and accompanying cover shot for V4#2 – were done with Jimmy at his New Kingston home in 1986. ↓
Jimmy Cliff is, without a doubt, the most internationally known Reggae artist alive. In more than 20 years in the music arena, this active, talented youth from Somerton, St. James, Jamaica, has developed exemplary discipline and staying power.
The Early Days
At age 14, James Chambers left for Kingston. But following his first recording, “Daisy Got Me Crazy,” in 1962, James Chambers became Jimmy Cliff – teenage Ska star! Under the wing of famed producer Leslie Kong, Jimmy Cliff skyrocketed to early success with “Hurricane Hattie.” He toured the Caribbean and performed at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair before moving to England to seek his fame and fortune.
Even before his involvement in the sensational cult film TheHarder They Come, Jimmy racked up several international hits in his early years, including “Wonderful World” and “Vietnam.” He toured and thrilled audiences in South America, England, and Europe. Continue reading →