TOOTS Hibbert recalls a conversation he had with Bob Marley in the late 1960s.
Marley —who was part of The Wailers which also comprised Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh — said he was thinking about embracing the Rastafarian faith.
“The Wailers and The Maytals (Hibbert’s former group) used to perform at the Carib Theatre an’ The Ward Theatre, an’ other concerts in Kingston… At that time, no one even knew about the name Toots yet. Sometimes The Maytals would close, sometimes The Wailers would close the show. We had no problems, no professional jealousy, we were all very good friends,” Hibbert, 75, told the Jamaica Observer.
“Out of all of us though, me an’ Bob were very good friends. Me an’ him used to talk more than I would talk to Peter or Bunny. It was out of one of those conversations that I did the song Marley. He was telling me that he was going to be a dreadlocks Rasta an’ I laughed an’ said, ‘I want to be a comb-locks’ Rasta like Selassie I’ an’ he laughed, just like the words in the actual song,” he said.
The self-produced Marley is on the D&F LLC label and will officially be released this month.
Formed in the early 1960s, The Maytals became reggae stars a decade later, around the same time as The Wailers. Hibbert said he enjoyed great camaraderie with Marley and would correspond with him often, as both were signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records during the 1970s.
“When I did Redemption Song in 1972, it went number one. Marley said he would do a Redemption Song as well. He used a similar rhythm but different lyrics. I loved his Three Little Birds song an’ I told him I might just end up sing it one day. I did it over with his son, Ziggy Marley, for my label an’ I plan to release it soon,” he revealed.
In December 2010, Rolling Stone magazine named both artistes in their 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Hibbert is ranked 71, while Marley is at 19.
Marley, 36, died on May 11, 1981 of cancer. He would have turned 73 today.
Hibbert said his death affected him greatly.
“He was a really good friend; we would uplift and motivate each other with our words. We were never jealous of each other. We would take everything as a joke. It is shocking to me, even now, that he is really dead. He was a great songwriter, a great artiste, a unique soul, a good Rastafarian — an’ just an overall good guy,” said Hibbert.