In Memoriam: Robbie Shakespeare

Robbie Shakespeare

Photo by Schorle, via Wikimedia Commons

Very sad news to report today as another icon of the bass has left us. Reggae legend Robbie Shakespeare has passed away at the age of 68. His death was confirmed by Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport. The Jamaica Gleaner reports Shakespeare had just undergone surgery related to his kidneys.

Shakespeare was born in Kingston in 1953 to a musical family. He first picked up acoustic guitar, but after hearing Aston “Family Man” Barrett, he took up the bass with lessons from the future member of The Wailers. He would shadow Barrett in the studio, watching his hands to learn.

He would soon connect with drummer Sly Dunbar. Their strong musical connection would create the backbone for thousands of recordings. Sly & Robbie would work with reggae artists like U-Roy, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Yellowman, and Black Uhuru, but their influence spread internationally. The duo added their special grooves to songs by Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Grace Jones, and many more. They produced artists like No Doubt and Chaka Demus & Pliers.

Shakespeare won many accolades, including being named the 17th greatest bassist of all time by Rolling Stone.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Robbie Shakespeare.

Get daily bass updates.

Get the latest news, videos, lessons, and more in your inbox every morning.

Leave a Reply to Michael White Cancel reply

  1. Michael White

    Born and grown in East Kingston Robbie was from Jacques Road I was from Milk Avenue few streets away when I heard of is dead it was a shock to me he was just three years older than me when I said grew up together I meant grew up together I am planning to return home and Robbie was on my visiting list when I return home he was like a big brother to my condolences goes out to his family. Frankiep

  2. James Wood

    Part of my life since revolutionaries in 70,s rest in peace brother !!!