Friday, January 15, 2010

Toots and the Maytals

Toots and the Maytals are a Jamaican vocal group formed in the early 1960's who literally tuned-in the music world  to the reggae, ska and rock steady genres.  They're even credited with coining the word "reggae" from their 1968 single "Do the Reggay".

They're also known for their strong, blended vocals and un-rivaled passion, led always by front man Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, who's soulful style has been compared by many to Otis Reddings'. 

Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt calls this reggae pioneer "one of the most powerful and original soul singers ever", and Toots is ranked 71st on 'Rolling Stone Magazine's' list of Top-100 greatest singers of all time!

Toots is the youngest of seven children, born in May Pen, Clarendon, Jaimaca in 1945...where he grew up singing gospel music in the church choir until 1958.  Four years later he moved to Kingston, where Toots met Henry "Raleigh" Gordon and Nathaniel "Jerry" McCarthy and formed the Maytals.

Backed by producer Clement Dodd and 'Studio One Records', the Maytals' close,harmony gospel-style rivaled Dodd's other rising vocal band 'The Wailers'.  Two years later the Maytals recorded  with 'Prince Buster' and then 'Byron Lee in 1966, when they released the hit "Bam Bam"...which won the most popular song competition at the Jamaican Independant Festival.

A few months later Toots was arrested for Marijuana possession and jailed for 18-months, although he claims it was due to him bailing-out the wrong friend....who skipped town.  During his time inside Toots wrote perhaps his greatest song, "54-46 That's My Number", depicting his ordeal behind bars.

After being released Toots hired producer Leslie Kong, and over the next five years the group put out hits like "Do the Reggay", "Pressure Drop", "Monkey Man", "Sweet and Dandy" and "Pomps and Pride"....which made them international stars.

They were also featured in the 1972 movie soundtrack "The Harder They Come", which 'Vanity Fair' named to its top-ten soundtracks of all time.

After more success with albums 'Funky Kingston' and 'Reggae Got Soul', The Maytals opened for 'The Who' on a 1975-76 North American Tour, which did not go over well.  This led to the group's 10-year break up.  In 1992, Toots and the Maytals re-formed and began recording and touring again.

But, it wasn't until 2005 that the album "True Love" won them the  Grammy for best reggae album, featuring re-recorded old hits,  and the accompaniment of 'Bonny Raitt', 'Willie Nelson', 'Eric Clapton', 'Keith Richards', 'Ben Harper', 'No Doubt', 'The Roots' and 'Shaggy'.

Toots and the Maytals filled the rest of the decade with other collaborative recordings and successful tours, including one last March with Amy Winehouse as part of their shared label tribute to  'Island Record's on its 50th anniversary.  Winehouse was forced to cancel , but that left Toots and the Maytals well enough alone....where they continue playing to sell out crowds.  To this day, they also still hold the record for number-one hits in Jamaica, with 31.

Thanks again,


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