Toots and the Maytals
Regarded as the seminal influence on the rock steady, ska and reggae scenes, Toots Hibbert is also living proof that sharing a spliff is a more sensible means of breaking down barriers than senseless bloodshed. The Clash showed its agreement by using its recording of Toot’s 1969 Jamaican dance-hall hit “Pressure Drop” as the B-side of its sardonic 1979 single “English Civil War,” making the connection between the bloody streets of Kingston and the growing racism within the UK. Thugs — be it countrymen or cops — are still thugs — that was the sentiment echoing from Strummer and his crew as they issued the same warning Toots gave his fellow Jamaicans a decade earlier: I say when it drops, oh, you gonna feel it/Know that you were doing wrong. Bob Marley is remembered as reggae’s prophet of peace, but Toots Hibbert remains its enduring spirit of cross-cultural kinship.