Legendary Toots and the Maytals won the prestigious Best Reggae Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards for the 2020 release of his critically acclaimed album ‘Got To Be Tough’ (Trojan Jamaica/BMG).
Speaking on the win, Trojan Jamaica label founders Zak Starkey and Sharna ‘Sshh’ Liguz shared: “It is an honor and a privilege to have known and to have recorded with one of the true greats of music.We are blessed to have had Toots’ incredible energy around us. He will be in our hearts forever.”
Released on August 28 via Trojan Jamaica, Got To Be Tough was his first studio release and come-back album after almost a decade following an accident in 2013 which prompted him to shy away from public life and releasing music altogether. However, thanks to the encouragement and belief from co-producer Zak Starkey and label co-founder and partner Sharna ‘Sshh’ Liguz, Toots made a welcomed return this summer with one of the greatest reggae albums of our time. Tragically, Toots fell sick just days after the release of ‘Got To Be Tough,’ and passed away in Jamaica on September 11 due to COVID-19-related complications.
During a time of global social and political unrest, Toots’ welcomed return and voice couldn’t have been more needed or necessary than ever. Harking back to the start of Ska, during the civil rights movement era in America and Jamaican independence in the 1960s, he sung iconic truths such as ‘Monkey Man’ and ‘54-46 Was My Number,’ a wry but not bitter response to his unjust incarceration for ganja. He hipped our heads in the 1970s with the dynamic pan-Africanism of ‘Funky Kingston’ and the early warning message of ‘Pressure Drop’; re-defining soul with the ‘Toots In Memphis’ LP in the 80s.
Since his wrongful 1966 imprisonment – which spawned one of his biggest global hits ‘54-46 Was My Number’ — Toots gained insight into the corrupt systems that try to dominate our bravest endeavours, and it is in his new resistance music, that his anger at and sensitivity to injustice in 2020 is clearer than ever.
The multiple GRAMMY® Award nominated and winning musician, vocalist, songwriter, producer and icon made the wait worthwhile, crafting a stubborn groove, designed to inspire tenacity, while splendidly balancing joy and anger, pain and healing. Produced by Toots himself, who also played many of the instruments on this album, alongside Zak Starkey on guitar, drums from one half of Sly and Robbie, Sly Dunbar, percussion from Cyril Neville, and a mighty horn section arranged by Toots himself. The 10-track collection was co-produced by Starkey, Nigel Burrell and Youth, with additional production and artwork by label co-founder Sharna ‘Sshh’ Liguz.
The energizing provocation of Got To Be Tough renewed the near six-decade career of the man who launched a new sound and genre with his 1968 release, ‘Do The Reggay.’ It’s a reminder that through Toots’ creative veins ran all the roots and shoots of the Black Diaspora. Blues, soul, r’n’b, funk, jazz, reggae, African griots – Toots honored, embodied and owned them all. Throwing down an authoritative guide: how to survive and thrive among our earth challenges. He is missed dearly but his message and music shall live on.