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Toots and The Maytals

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Kingston, Jamaica

Originally called simply The Maytals, are considered legends of and music. They are from Kingston, Jamaica. 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 1961 at the age of sixteen.

In Kingston, he 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. With musical backing from Dodd’s house band, the legendary Skatalites, the Maytals’ close-harmony gospel singing ensured instant success for the 1964 release, overshadowing Dodd’s other up-and-coming gospel 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 (released in 1974) before recording their second album produced by Byron Lee in 1965. However, the band’s musical career was rudely interrupted in late 1966 when Hibbert was arrested and imprisoned on drug possession charges.

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