Toots and the Maytals

Episode this artist appeared in



Brief History



Toots and the Maytals, originally called The Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group and one of the best known ska and rocksteady vocal groups. The Maytals were formed in the early 1960s and were key figures in popularising reggae music. Frontman Toots Hibbert's soulful vocal style has been compared to Otis Redding, and led him to be named one of the 100 Greatest Singers by Rolling Stone.

Their 1968 single "Do the Reggay", was the first song to use the word "reggae", naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. As Island Records founder Chris Blackwell says, "The Maytals were unlike anything else ... sensational, raw and dynamic."

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 1961 at the tender age of sixteen.

In Kingston, Hibbert met Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” McCarthy, forming a group whose early recordings were attributed to “The Flames” and, possibly, “The Vikings”. Having renamed the group the Maytals, the vocal trio recorded their first album, “Never Grow Old – presenting the Maytals”, for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One in 1962-63.

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 to continue touring and recording successfully.