REGGAE legends Toots and the Maytals are heading to Bournemouth this month. Toots is one of Jamaica’s greatest showmen, whose biggest hits include 54-46 Was My Number, Sweet And Dandy, Pressure Drop and Monkey Man.

Over the years he’s toured with the likes of Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, The Who and the Rolling Stones, and shared tracks with an array of big names such as Willie Nelson and Keith Richards.

His latest single Marley was written about the late reggae icon. Toots and he were both relative unknowns living in Trench Town when they first became friends, and their mutual respect would last until Marley’s death in 1981.

“Bob and myself, we talk a lot, and we always have good times with each other,” he recalls. “I remember him saying he wanted to be a dreadlocks Rasta. I said that was alright with me but I’d rather keep grooming my hair, y ‘know? I say I want to be a comb-head like Marcus Garvey and Emperor Selassie I, who everybody worship and yet neither of them wore dreadlocks.”

He and Marley met in the very early sixties at Studio One, which is where many of the island’s biggest reggae stars got their start. “Everybody go to Coxsone Dodd’s studio,” he says. “It was the target for everyone who wanted to sing at that time and Bob was already there when I arrived.

“There were five Wailing Wailers back then but Coxsone said he didn’t like my voice at first. He told me to come back in six weeks’ time so I went to the country, wrote some more songs and then went back with Raleigh and Jerry, who sang harmonies.”

Toots met Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias at a barbershop in Trench Town where he would cut hair and entertain the customers by singing and playing a four string ukulele.

The three of them became known as the Maytals and after they’d made their debut with Hallelujah, the hits for Coxsone just kept on coming. Toots had created something new by singing gospel over ska rhythms.

Toots, real name Frederick Hibbert, had learnt to sing in his local church choir in Denbigh, in the Jamaican parish of Clarendon. That’s where he grew up but those gospel influences were instilled in him from childhood and they’ve never left him. “I’m from a spiritual family so we’d go to what I call, ‘clap and church’,”he says. “We’d go twice a day on a Sunday, singing and praying and it was like a school as well. That’s where it comes from and we keep it in the music because people need that.

“They need to feel happy. It’s not just about reggae or even music; it’s about helping them make that connection with something spiritual, which is the best feeling you can have. It brings people hope and it let their spirits fly, I tell you...”

He added: To bring joy with my music is my greatest aspiration. We give 100 per cent every night, and our fans give us that energy right back every time.”

* Toots and the Maytals will be at the O2 Academy in Boscombe on Sunday, October 21. To book, visit