100 Greatest Singers
December 8th, 1942
Key Tracks "Funky Kingston," "Monkey Man," "Pressure Drop"
Influenced Joe Strummer, Robert Palmer
Bonnie Raitt calls reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert "one of the most powerful and original soul singers ever," singling out his "gruff, classic style." In the late Sixties, Hibbert and his band, the Maytals, cut classic singles such as "Sweet and Dandy" and "Monkey Man," which set a template for a couple of generations of ska revivals and garnered the Jamaican singer well-earned comparisons to Otis Redding. "A hundred years from now," Hibbert says, "my songs will be played, because it is logical words that people can relate to." He didn't need fancy songs to come across: His most famous tune is "Pressure Drop," which is just five lines repeated over and over. But his greatest performance could be "54-46 Was My Number," his defiant, deeply funky memory of a short stint in prison. It was definitive proof that A-level soul wasn't limited to the North American mainland.