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Toots & The Maytals

Toots & The Maytals

Origin: Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Seminal Jamaican group Toots & The Maytals came together in the early 1960s. After oscillating between gospel, ska and rocksteady, the trio embraced a nascent genre on their their 1968 single, Do the Reggay - which marked the first time the term "reggae" was used on record. Comprised of Frederick ''Toots'' Hibbert, Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias and Henry ''Raleigh'' Gordon, the Maytals went on to record such classics as Monkey Man, 54-46 Was My Number and Pressure Drop during the 1970s. Since then, Toots' warm and heady style has done much to turn public awareness on to the musical richness of Jamaica.

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Seminal Jamaican group Toots & The Maytals came together in the early 1960s. After oscillating between gospel, ska and rocksteady, the trio embraced a nascent genre on their their 1968 single, Do the Reggay - which marked the first time the term "reggae" was used on record. Comprised of Frederick ''Toots'' Hibbert, Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias and Henry ''Raleigh'' Gordon, the Maytals went on to record such classics as Monkey Man, 54-46 Was My Number and Pressure Drop during the 1970s. Since then, Toots' warm and heady style has done much to turn public awareness on to the musical richness of Jamaica.

The city callsToots & Maytal

Frederick ''Toots'' Hibbert was born in May Pen, in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. The youngest of seven children, he grew up singing gospel music in church. In 1961, at the age of 16, he left for Kingston, where he met Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias and Henry ''Raleigh'' Gordon.

Teaming up under the name The Maytals, the three singers recorded their first album under the aegis of producer Coxsone Dodd. Presenting the Maytals (1964) benefited from the backing of house band The Skatalites.

During this fruitful period, The Maytals released a string of hit singles which helped consolidate their status as top vocal group in Jamaica. The trio also contributed back vocals for ska kingpin Desmond Dekker.

After leaving Dodd, the three vocalists worked in different studios, teaming up with star producers Prince Buster and Byron Lee. Building on their gospel and ska roots, The Maytals successfully tried their hand at rocksteady, a subgenre which was all the rage between 1966 and 1968. They were now more popular than ever.

Prison break

Unfortunately, that same year, Hibbert was arrested for possession of marijuana and spent the next 18 months in jail. His compadres patiently waited for him to return. As soon as Toots had served his time, The Maytals rushed into the studio to record a triumphant return single, 54-46 Was My Number - named after Hibbert's actual prison number...

In 1968, Toots and co. carried on with historic single Do the Reggay, which coined the name of a new musical genre evolved from ska and rocksteady. Two years later, they saw new single Monkey Man cracking the Top 50 in Great Britain. One of their most popular tracks, Pressure Drop, appeared on the soundtrack of the 1972 reggae cult movie, The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff.

Now working under the moniker Toots & The Maytals, the group released the adventurous Funky Kingston in 1973, followed by In the Dark the next year, and Reggae Got Soul two years later. In the late 1970s, with ska and reggae enjoying a renaissance of sorts in Great Britain, the trio broadened their fan base. Thanks to The Clash covering Pressure Drop and The Specials recording their version of Monkey Man, The Maytals's music was (re)discovered by a new generation.

Fresh start

Recorded at a London Hammersmith Palais concert in 1980, Toots Live perfectly encapsulated the band's high octane stage act. The next year, The Maytals released a final studio effort, Knockout, before Toots disbanded the trio. He embarked on a solo career in 1982. By the time Toots came to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal for the first time, in 1990, he had assembled a new version of The Maytals.

With the following decade came more touring and recording. True Love was released in 2004 on major league label V2. This collection of duets with pop, rock and reggae artists brought Toots together with the likes of Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton and Ben Harper.

In 2009, Toots & The Maytals made their second appearance at the Festival. The Jamaican singer was presented with the Antonio-Carlos Jobim Award, prior to the Reggae Summit concert, of which he shared the bill with Burning Spear. The Jamaican singer was presented with the Antonio-Carlos Jobim Award.

Toots & The Maytal

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