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Toots and the Maytals

Toots and the Maytals, originally called simply The Maytals, are considered legends of ska and reggae music. Their sound is a unique, original combination of Gospel, Ska, Soul, Reggae and Rock. Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, the leader of the group, was born in May Pen in the Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. He was the youngest of seven children. He grew up singing gospel music in a church choir, but moved to Kingston in the early 1960s as a teen.In Kingston, Hibbert met Henry "Raleigh" Gordon and Nathaniel "Jerry" McCarthy, forming a group whose early recordings were attributed to The Flames. Fixing on the nickname of the lead singer, the name Maytals was chosen for the group. The vocal trio recorded their first album, 'Never Grow Old' - presenting the Maytals, for producer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd at Studio One in 1962-63. With musical backing from Dodd's legendary house band, the Skatalites, the Maytals' close-harmony gospel singing ensured instant success for the 1964 release, rivaling the success of Dodd's other up- and-coming trio, The Wailers.

The original album augmented by studio out-takes from the Studio One sessions was re-released by Heartbeat / Rounder Records in 1997, and is essential listening for Maytals and Skatalites fans. After staying at Studio One for about two years, the group moved on to do sessions for Prince Buster before recording their second album for Byron Lee in 1965.

The band's musical career was however interrupted in late 1966 when Hibbert was framed, arrested and wrongfully imprisoned on charges of marijuana possession. Hibbert's record has since been expunged. Following Hibbert's release from jail towards the end of 1967, the band officially changed their name to Toots and the Maytals and began working with producer Leslie Kong on a string of hits including 54-46, 'Pressure Drop' and 'Do the Reggae', the 1968 single widely credited with coining the word Reggae on wax and naming the genre. The group's first international hit 'Monkey Man' followed in 1970. By 1972, the group was featured in the 1972 cult classic Perry Henzel film and soundtrack that marked Reggae's greatest first breakthrough - 'The Harder They Come', starring Jimmy Cliff. Released by Island Records, the album was named as one of Vanity Fair's Top 10 Best Soundtracks of all time.

Following Kong's death in 1971, the group continued to record with Kong's former sound engineer, Warwick Lyn and Chris Blackwell of Island Records, releasing three best-selling albums, and enjoying international hits with 'Funky Kingston' in 1973 and 'Reggae Got Soul' in 1976. Toots and the Maytals' compositions would be given a second airing in 1978-80 during the Reggae-Punk and Ska revival period in the UK, when The Specials included 'Monkey Man' on their 1979 debut album and The Clash produced their version of 'Pressure Drop'. Having toured throughout the world for many years, Toots and the Maytals disbanded in the early 1980s, but reformed in the early 90s and continue touring and recording to this day.

A three time Grammy nominee, Toots and the Maytals won the 2005 Grammy Award with 'True Love' for 'Best Reggae Album'. The album featured re-recorded classics hits alongside popular and legendary artistes including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, No Doubt, Ben Harper, The Roots and Shaggy.The Toots and the Maytals catalogue has been covered by artistes from Amy Winehouse to Sublime as the artiste's influence on popular music remains relevant. The albums 'Light Your Light' and 'Flip & Twist' albums were released in 2008 and 2009 respectively. A prolific artiste, Toots is always in studio when not touring and has three special releases planned for 2012 including 'Unplugged' on Strawberry Hill (acoustic cd/documentary dvd set), 'Toots Rock Reggae' and a 'Ska 50 EP' to commemorate Jamaica's 50th anniversary. One of the greats from the Reggae Pantheon... Toots and the Maytals is a living legend.ail

 

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