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» BREAKING NEWS, GUEST RUNDOWNS » TOOTS HIBBERT TALKS ABOUT HIATUS AND THE MAYTALS U.S. TOUR, IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW SINCE ONSTAGE ATTACK!

TOOTS HIBBERT TALKS ABOUT HIATUS AND THE MAYTALS U.S. TOUR, IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW SINCE ONSTAGE ATTACK!

By Patricia Meschino—
Toots Hibbert

Toots Hibbert

Veteran Jamaican singer Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, lead singer of Toots and the Maytals, whose six-decade career was halted in 2013 following an injury at a Virginia music festival, begins his much anticipated return tour of the U.S. on June 15 at Observatory North Park in San Diego, Calif.

While performing at Richmond’s Dominion Riverrock Outdoor Sports and Music Festival on May 18, 2013, Hibbert was hit in the head by an empty glass vodka bottle thrown by a drunken audience member, suffering lacerations to his forehead.

William Lewis

William Lewis was charged

The following day Hibbert launched an acoustic tour supporting his Grammy nominated Reggae Got Soul Unplugged on Strawberry Hill (Metropolis) at Long Island’s Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Two days later, following a series of medical evaluations, he was advised to cancel the remaining tour dates and return home to Kingston. In June 2013 Hibbert’s Virginia and Los Angeles-based lawyers filed a $20 million dollar lawsuit against Venture Richmond, producers of the three-day music and sports event (along with Sports Backers); a settlement was reached in March 2016 without public disclosure of the terms.

FILE - In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Toots Hibbert, of Toots and the Maytals, performs at The Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, Ala. Hibbert has settled a lawsuit he filed against the organizers of an outdoor festival in Richmond, Va., after he was struck in the head with a vodka bottle in 2013. None of the parties involved would disclose details of the settlement. (Photo by John Davisson/Invision/AP, File)

FILE – In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Toots Hibbert, of Toots and the Maytals, performs at The Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, Ala. Hibbert has settled a lawsuit he filed against the organizers of an outdoor festival in Richmond, Va., after he was struck in the head with a vodka bottle in 2013. None of the parties involved would disclose details of the settlement. (Photo by John Davisson/Invision/AP, File)

In an exclusive interview with Billboard at his Kingston home studio on May 20, Toots’ first since that 2013 injury, the singer commented on the Virginia episode and the resulting three-year break from touring, performing and recording. “This hasn’t been a good time at all; after being away for so long, I have to work harder to gain confidence, to get back to where I was. I am exercising more, eating properly, and up until now I see the doctor for my head,” Hibbert revealed, before adding, “you are very lucky… I said something about what happened there, because I don’t want to talk about it.”

The Maytals

The Maytals

What he does want to talk about, unsurprisingly, is his music. “This studio is called Reggae Center and what comes from here is good ideas and great songs so I am happy to be recording again,” acknowledges Hibbert, whose 1968 hit “Do The Reggay” was the first song to mention by name Jamaica’s signature rhythm. He instructs his engineer seated at the mixing board to play two recently recorded tracks: a forthcoming single “Crazy Conscious” which features the Mexican Institute of Sound on an irresistible reggae-Mariachi band mashup, and “Three Little Birds,” a rousing ska rendition of Bob Marley’s 1977 hit, featuring Bob’s eldest son Ziggy. “I sang ‘Three Little Birds’ because of the respect I have for Bob; we performed on many shows together over the years and it brings back great memories,” reminisced Hibbert, who will perform alongside Bob’s sons Damian and Stephen aboard the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise, hosted by Damian, on Nov. 14. “Bob’s sons are like my nephews and they respect me as their uncle so the cruise will be like a family tour,” he declares.

The Maytals’ Jamaican chart toppers “Pressure Drop” and “Sweet and Dandy” were included on the 1973 soundtrack to The Harder They Come (Mango Records), which brought their music to audiences beyond Jamaica’s shores. The trio disbanded in the early 1980s; Toots reformed the group in the 1990s and they’ve remained a consistently successful touring outfit. Numerous artists have covered Maytals hits including Amy Winehouse (“Monkey Man”), The Clash (“Pressure Drop”), and Sublime (“54-46”).

TheMaytals1973

William Morris Endeavor handles Toots and the Maytals’ bookings worldwide. Hibbert’s management team is Kingston/Miami based Andrea Davis, Joel Menzin and Jeff Wooding, respectively based in Los Angeles and Portland, OR. Menzin and Wooding were co-A&Rs on Hibbert’s 2005 Grammy Award winning album True Love (V2 Records), which features Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Bootsy Collins and The Roots,among other luminaries, singing Maytals classics with the reggae legend.

“We have plans to document and develop greater recognition for Toots’ legacy and celebrate his longstanding power in a market that has changed dramatically over the years,” comments Davis. “The fans are anxious to hear the classics they’ve missed but there will also be surprises to welcome Toots and The Maytals back into the live space; I am confident that he will exceed the expectations surrounding his return tour.”

Despite some apprehension towards returning to the stage after a three-year absence, Hibbert is thrilled to finally be reuniting with his vast international following. “Sometimes I think about what can happen out there, so I hope no one throw any more bottles when they are drinking because I don’t know how I am going to deal with it,” he disclosed. “I realize that people out there respect me and will be glad you called my name. They are waiting for me to bring joy in them heart again and I am hoping to meet them and get some happiness, too.”

Toots Hibbert

Toots Hibbert

Toots and Maytals 2016 Tour Itinerary:

6/15 – San Diego, CA / Observatory North Park
6/16 – Santa Ana, CA / The Observatory
6/17 – Los Angeles, CA / The Fonda Theatre
6/18 – Boonville, CA / Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
6/20 – Seattle, WA / The Showbox
6/22 – Victoria, BC / Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival
6/23 – Vancouver, BC / Commodore Ballroom
6/24 – Portland, OR / Revolution Hall
6/26 – Queens, NY / Groovin’ In The Park
8/13 – Chicago, IL / Reggae Fest Chicago
8/14 – Detroit, MI / Majestic Theatre
8/15 – Toronto, ON / Danforth Music Hall
8/17 – Montreal, QC / Corona Theatre
8/19 – Hyannis, MA / Cape Cod Melody Tent
8/20 – Portland, ME / State Theatre
8/21 and 22 – Nantucket, MA / The Chicken Box
8/24 – Burlington, VT / Higher Ground Ballroom
8/28 – Kingham, ENGLAND / The Big Feastival
8/29 – London, ENGLAND / House Of Common
8/31 – Briston, ENGLAND / Motion
9/1 – Cardiff, WALES / The Tramshed
9/2 – Brighton, ENGLAND / Brighton Dome
9/6 – Canterbury, ENGLAND / The Marlowe Theatre
9/7 – Norwich, ENGLAND / UEA
9/8 – Nottingham, ENGLAND / Rock City
9/9 – Newcastle Upon Tyne / The Boiler Shop
9/10 – Manchester / Manchester Academy
11/14-16 – Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise

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