Prolific Jamaican reggae bassist and music producer Robbie Shakespeare dies at age 68.

A report by the Jamaica Gleaner states, Robbie Shakespeare died in Florida where he was hospitalized for kidney surgery.

Robbie Shakespeare would be remembered for his contribution to revolutionizing the sound of reggae and dancehall music.

Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Culture Minister announced his death, recounting on some of the footprints he left behind.

In a statement she said, “[Sly and Robbie] took bass playing and drumming to the highest level as they made music for themselves as a group, and for many other artistes locally and internationally,”

Also, David Rodigan a reggae music presenter with BBC Radio said, Robbie Shakespeare “played his bass guitar like nobody else. he made the beat drop, speaker boxes shook and we rocked. His passing is a tragic loss; his contribution to the genre is immeasurable. RIP Robbie Shakespeare.”.

Career and Life

Born in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica in 1953, Robbie Shakespeare learnt to play bass under the supervision of Aston Barret of The Wailers.

Having a successful career for almost 50 years, he collaborated with artists such as Peter Tosh, Bob Dylan, No Doubt, Madonna, and many more.

Robbie teamed up with Sly Dunbar a drummer in the mid-1970’s. They transitioned from one band name to the other until they settled on Sly and Robbie. Sly and Robbie moved on to become one of the most influential rhythm and production duos in the history of reggae music.

To his credit, Robbie helped to create the unique sounds heard in Murder She Wrote and Bam Bam. The two songs are considered some of the most legendary and important in reggae and dancehall.

The Sly and Robbie band also did some wonderful works for the movie industry. The produced soundtracks for movies such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Poetic Justice.

Awards and Recognitions

The wonderful works of the legend did not go unrecognized. He had 13 Grammy awards nominations and won two. In 1984 for best reggae recording for Anthem, and in 1998 for best reggae album for Friends.

In 2020, Rolling Stone magazine placed him at number 17 on its list of the 50 greatest bassists of all time. They said, “No other musical entity in the post-Marley era has been so omnipresent in shaping the sound of Jamaica and bringing it to the world”.

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