RENOWNED reggae historian Roger Steffens is blasting local authorities for the absence of a Reggae Music Hall of Fame. His comments come in wake of the efforts he initiated to have the late Toots Hibbert inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Only two other Jamaican artistes have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, reggae king Bob Marley, who was named in 1994, and Jimmy Cliff who was added in 2009.
According to Steffens, there are other Jamaican acts who should be inducted, but there should be a Jamaican Hall of Fame.
“It's past time too for Peter Tosh to be inducted there as well. My question is why hasn't Jamaica instituted an official Reggae Hall of Fame so that figures like Joe Higgs, Coxsone Dodd, King Tubby, Roy Shirley, Alton Ellis, Slim Smith, Jimmy Riley, Justin Hinds, Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, Prince Buster, Duke Reid, King Tubby, the Mighty Diamonds, and Culture could be honoured in their home country? And the list goes on and on,” he noted.
Steffens was at the forefront of a petition for the nominations committee of the Hall of Fame to consider Toots and the Maytals for induction.
He told the Jamaica Observer that the petition received more than the 5,000 signatures which was being sought and has been submitted to the committee to support the consideration.
“We're way over 5,000, up to more than 7,400 and rising, thanks to a final push initiated by 'Native Wayne' Jobson,” he said.
“There is no particular requirement. In originally discussing this with my friend Mikey Pawka of niceup.com, a reggae site in San Diego, we were shocked to realise that Toots had never been inducted to the Rock Hall. I suggested we use his platform to begin a petition to ask the hall to induct Toots into its next class. We thought 5,000 would be an impressive figure. The annual meeting is in the next few days however and we'd really like to have a full 5,000 signatures before we forward the petition on to the Rock Hall. Then it would be up to the electors to decide if he could be submitted to the membership for inclusion in the hall,” Steffens continued.
Steffens — who is credited with having the largest collection of memorabilia covering Jamaican music, in general, and reggae, in particular — said it was full time that Toots, who is said to have given the genre of reggae its name, be recognised in a format such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Both Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff are already in the Rock Hall, reggae's representatives there. But why is the very creator of the word 'reggae' not there alongside of them? He has spread the message of Jah music throughout the world, and was active to the very end of his life, with a bright new album released just days before his passing. His performances were like no one else's and earned respect throughout the entire world of popular music with collaborations with some of the planet's biggest stars who were proud to record alongside him. His career spanned more than six decades, with countless awards and headlining major international festivals, spreading Jamaican culture to the ends of the earth,” he said.
Frederick “Toots” Hibbert was born in May Pen, Clarendon, on December 8, 1942. He rose to prominence in the local music industry having formed the group Toots and the Maytals in 1961. He became a household name having won the Jamaica Festival Song Competition in its inaugural year, 1963 with the entry Bam Bam. He would repeat this win in 1969 with Sweet and Dandy, and 1972 with Pomps & Pride.
He was also a finalist in the 2020 version of the competition, a few weeks before he died at the University Hospital of the West Indies at age 77.