Toots's petition gathers steam

Toots's petition gathers steam

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, November 30, 2020

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The drive to get Toots Hibbert in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame has gathered momentum. An initiative led by reggae historian Roger Steffens and Mike Pawka of niceup.com, it has achieved 3,600 of the 5,000 signatures sought.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer last week, Steffens said once signatures reach, or surpass the 5,000 mark, it will be submitted to administrators at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Foundation which considers acts for induction.

Steffens believes Toots, who died in September at age 77, has a good chance to be the third reggae artiste inducted into the 'Rock Hall'. Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff were installed in 1994 and 2010, respectively.

“There are several people [out] there now who are quite sympathetic to our cause, and given the strength of his final release, just nominated for the Reggae Grammy, I think we have a very good chance that he will be inducted next year,” he said.

The 2021 inductees are expected to be announced by April.

According to Steffens, he suggested that Pawka post a petition on niceup.com lobbying for Toots's induction, shortly after his death. Pawka had contacted Steffens for comments on the singer/songwriter's legacy for a story on his website.

Interestingly, Steffens conducted an extensive interview with Toots at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2007. His longevity and diverse catalogue, he stated, qualifies him for a place in rock music's most hallowed space.

“The reason why I think Toots is so special is that very few artistes in any form of music have consistently made the charts over a period of 60 years. Toots Hibbert, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Barbara Streisand are the few that come to mind,” Steffens noted. “And Toots has made ska, rock steady, reggae and rockers hits, won a Grammy, and headlined festivals to the very end. All without losing an ounce of his power on stage or in the studio. Let him in!”

Got to be Tough, the last studio album by Toots and his group The Maytals, has been nominated for Best Reggae Album at next year's Grammy Awards. It was released in August by Trojan Jamaica/BMG.

They won that category in 2005 with True Love.


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