Robbie Shakespeare, a prominent Jamaican singer and songwriter of reggae music, has passed away at the age of 68.
According to the Jamaica Gleaner, he died in Florida after undergoing kidney surgery.
He is best known for his work as a music producer and prolific bassist.
Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Culture Minister, announced Shakespeare’s death. She said that Shakespeare was one the greatest musicians in Jamaica.
“[Sly and Robbie]She said that she took the bass playing and drumming up to the top as they created music for themselves and other artists locally and internationally.”
BBC Radio 1Xtra Reggae Music Presenter David Rodigan stated that Shakespeare played his bass guitar “like nobody else”.
Robbie Shakespeare was the bass player in Reggae music. His contribution is unmeasurable. RIP Robbie Shakespeare. pic.twitter.com/3JMMtbUrm1
— David Rodigan (@DavidRodigan) December 8, 2021
Shakespeare has collaborated with musicians as diverse as Madonna and Bob Dylan to create a wide range of music.
In Jamaica, Kingston was his birthplace in 1953. He learned to play bass with Aston Barrett from The Wailers after meeting in Shakespeare’s backyard.
After establishing himself as an accomplished musician, he joined forces with Sly Duncan in the late 1970s. Although they had many names for their band, Sly and Robbie became the best rhythm and production duos ever.
Shakespeare is credited with creating Murder She Wrote’s unique sound and Bam Bam, which are two of the most iconic and significant songs in reggae or dancehall.
The group also composed music for movies soundtracks like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Poetic Justice.
Shakespeare was nominated 13 times for Grammys. He won two of them – the 1984 award for best Reggae Recording for Anthem, followed by 1998’s for best Reggae Album For Friends.
Rolling Stone Magazine placed him last year at 17 on their list of 50 best bassists. It stated: “No other musical entity post-Marley has been so omnipresent shaping the sound and bringing Jamaican music to the world.
Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s Prime Minister said via Twitter that “when it comes to Reggae Bass playing, no one is close to Robbie Shakespeare.”
Shakespeare, speaking to BBC 2005, explained his unique bass rhythms.
“Sly may begin with a drum sound, so I ask him: Boy, what’s the tempo? He said, “Sly may start with a drum ton, and I’ll say, “Boy where’s the tempo?”
“And, I might fall while doing my job – everything just falls into its place.”
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