BBtv: Roots Reggae Legends Toots and the Maytals (music)

Today on Boing Boing tv: Toots and the Maytals are true reggae legends (more: Wikipedia, MySpace). Founder Toots Hibbert is credited with coining the word "reggae" in the band's 1968 single, "Do the Raggay." They've had more number one hit songs in Jamaica than any recording artist ever, and received a Grammy for Best Reggae Album of the Year in 2005.

He was a contemporary of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, and was featured in Director-producer Perry Henzel's all-Jamaican-made 1973 movie classic The Harder They Come (Amazon link).

I joined BBtv's London-based music correspondent Russell Porter for a visit on the venerable Mister Toots' tour bus after an amazing set at Outside Lands, and we sat down with him for a conversation about the history of reggae, and what Toots thinks about contemporary hip-hop and dancehall -- and where his legacy leads. The generous vanity intro he did for BBtv is a thing of beauty, we can all die happy now.

Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and daily podcast subscription instructions.

Sponsor Note: This episode, and other BBtv music features this month, are sponsored by the Crowdfire live music social media project. You can find images, video, and audio about the band featured in today's show at Crowdfire -- here's the search link for fan-uploads related to Toots and the Maytals.

Related Boing Boing tv episodes from Outside Lands:
* Broken Social Scene: interview and live performance (music)
* Galactic's "Modern New Orleans Funk" with Xeni and Russell (music)
* Interview with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett (music)
* Andy Gould, rock band manager, dances on the labels' graves.
* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

(Special thanks to Wayneco for the magic bus, to Michael Cacia, and to Virgin America for air travel.)



  1. Bad ass. I really wish I could have stayed for longer. I got dust storms and shitty techno and you guys got hot heat.

  2. Toots kicks booty. I hope he keeps it up for many years to come.

    Mr. Porter looks…ummm…a but tired.

  3. Toots is my hero. Interviews with David Hinds and Toots? This old rude boy wishes he had Russell Porter’s gig.

  4. I was about to mention that “The Harder They Come” isn’t a documentary, but Zeroy beat me to it.

    It’s not a bad flick, but the plot is pretty thin. Probably better for fans of the culture/music than those in search of high quality film making or story telling.

  5. Thanks for getting that interview, guys! Toots is the real deal (although I’m not sure how I feel about the new “bad ass” look he’s been sporting the last few years.) Anyway, if you have a chance to see him live – do it.

    Here’s a link to Toots and the Maytals doing Radiohead’s “Let Down” if you’ve never heard it:

  6. @Bionicrat2: Their cover of Let Down is on a complete song for song cover of Radiohead’s OK Computer by the Easy Star All Stars called Radiodread.

    They also have a cover album called “Dub Side of the Moon.” You can take a guess what that’s a cover of…

    Both are absolutely fantastic. I’ve heard the original albums more times that I can count and I adore reggae, so the remixes are a much welcomed infusion of flavor to familiar themes.

    David Byrne, then Les Claypool, now Toots Hibbert, you’re hitting on some really great artists there Xeni.
    Next you’ll have to track down Michael Franti, Maynard James Kennan, Mike Patton, Kim Nekroman, or Serj Tankian for a chat.

  7. Ya know I saw Toots and the Maytals live at maple leaf gardens in 1976, opening for the bleedin’ Who.
    But it was another four years before I really started to appreciate reggae…Black Uhuru, opening for the clash at the CNE….in 1980…ah, good times.

  8. My only experience with Toots and the Maytals was seeing them booed off the stage when they opened for The Who in 1974 in Cincinnati (please forgive if my memory is shaky it was a long time ago and I was just a little kid)
    The Midwest rock crowd was NOT ready for reggae.

  9. Maybe it was 1974…the TO crowd was more polite, he did not get booed off the stage, but the Who crowd were not there for Toots, and were not very appreciative, IIRC.
    Nobody had even heard of reggae back then, Clapton’s “I shot the sheriff” was the mass intro to “reggae” for the white suburban kids I hung around with.
    Like I said, it was years before I was happily skankin’ to the roots reggae, chantin’ down Babylon and all…

  10. Was this festival only on during the day?

    I ask as Toots and the Maytals when they play festivals in the UK tend to be headliners…. ok not perhaps on the main stage but definitely best ’til last into the night.

    Anyway. Lovely interview with a true giant.

    Got this old skinhead grinning like a fool.

  11. Oh yeah they – and reggae in general – have always been bigger in England, as Jamaica was a part of England till about 1960(?), eh wot?

  12. What a joy, not just to see an decent interview with Toots, but to hear him being asked intelligent questions by someone who really knows his music history and can combine his enthusiasm with his journalist skills to get a good interview (Toots is notorious for giving poor interviews).

    ^^That’s just a way of saying Russell Porter rocks and didn’t have to resort to asking Toots if he liked Amy Winehouse’s versions of his songs like most interviewers do these days.

  13. @ #9 Xeni – the link seems to still be working:

    I think it’s in flash, not an mp3. The play button kicks it in to play the full track. (Although I’m assuming by now you have found in a suitable format and are bouncing around to it.)

    @ #12 Paco – Yes, Radiodread is a great album, but the Toots track is the stand-out.

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