In 2019, Jimmy Cliff said he was considering Frederick “Toots” Hibbert and the 1962 Maytals album. Never grow old the birth of the reggae genre. The two singers often pushed each other artistically through a friendly race, with Cliff also recruiting Toots and Maytals to appear in The harder they come. After the death of his longtime friend and classmate “Toots”, fellow reggae legend Jimmy Cliff speaks Rolling stone Saturday for the Maytals singer.
Tuts, he’s out there, he’s vibrating now. Toots was one of the artists I really loved and respected because in the past, Toots was one of the people who made me smoke herbs. They used to laugh at me, “Hey, get a tie, man.”
Raises a person, the world will always remember him. He has this amazing, unique voice. At the time when we were doing shows all over Jamaica – we had our little competition with each other, but it was all fun because we were inspired – I sang some Otis Reading songs in my action and the performers that were more inspiring for [Hibbert] they were like Ray Charles. But after those shows, he got so involved with Otis Reading that he started singing Otis Reding’s songs, and then he wrote this great song, a huge hit in Jamaica called “Dad.”
When Toots first came on Beverly Records – because I started many years before him – he auditioned for me and Derrick Morgan, and we turned down Toots. We said, “You sing like a cowboy.” [we mocked how] he was playing the guitar on his left hand … He was injured and left. And a month later he made this huge hit. He went to Coxsone [Dodd], another producer, and made a huge hit. When he saw us, he said nothing. He just looked us in the eye.
“Sweet and Dandy” was a hit before The harder they come, and this is one of my favorite songs on Toots and the Maytals. Tots is such a natural artist that he is not used to mimicking, but he had to imitate this song for the film. So it was difficult for him: he is not a mime, he is natural. So this caused him a little trouble, but after a while he took it off.
Jerry and Raleigh, [The Maytals’ Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias], they were also very good friends of mine. We were so close to all these concerts that we did all over Jamaica. They went down to the river before the show, always trying to find a river [to smoke at]. “Come on Jimmy, take a tie.” But I didn’t smoke, it was such a strange thing.
What a soul, what a personality, Toots. He is like the sun. When he enters, he lights the place. Whether it’s a show or just a walk. He always said hello to everyone. What a spirit this man was, what a soul.
The last time I saw him, he toured my studio, about three years ago, with his male dog. But we talked from time to time, on the phone. It was the same kind of camaraderie as he and I, Desmond Decker, because we were all Beverly artists, even Bob Marley. Tuts, I will always remember his kindness. He was such a nice man.
From our religious origins, our concept of when someone passes – we don’t say they “pass”, we say “cross”, they just go to the other side of existence, there’s no such thing as death – and then they go out there and vibrate for many days before climbing to a higher altitude. But Toots, the way Toots lived his life, I’m sure his soul must move forward. The soul can reincarnate 24 to 24,000 times, depending on how you lived your life. But with Toots, I don’t see Toots returning to this planet. It has evolved. He has fulfilled the task he must fulfill on this planet.
And his new album[[[[It must be firm]. I love his new album! His new album is one of the best he has ever made. He just left us with this great album and left! This is one of his best definitely, without a doubt. He had a few great songs before, but it took him so long to make this new album. But he left us with something great.
His spirit will always resonate with us. His soul will always resonate with us and the people who loved his music.