In Memoriam: Robbie Shakespeare
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.