Robbie Shakespeare, one half of duo Sly and Robbie, has passed away. He was 68 years old.
It’s been reported by The Jamaica Gleaner that Shakespeare had recently undergone surgery related to his kidneys. The Jamaican artist was hospitalised in Florida.
Shakespeare, an iconic bassist, formed Sly and Robbie with drummer Sly Dunbar in the mid-70s after having both worked separately in other bands. After bonding over an affinity for reggae production, they went to work producing for other artists, with their breakout credit being Mighty Diamonds’ 1976 album ‘Right Time’.
Their production work led them to work with a myriad of acts throughout the decades, including multiple albums for Bob Dylan and Grace Jones. They also helped produce and remix tracks by Bob Marley, Madonna, Britney Spears and Mick Jagger, while also helming production on No Doubt‘s 2001 smash hit ‘Hey Baby’.
Throughout their career, Sly and Robbie also went on to release several albums of their own, the last of which was 2019’s ‘The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics’ which was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 2019 Grammys.
Sending his condolences, Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness tweeted, “The legendary bassist Robbie Shakespeare played a significant role in recording and producing albums for various Reggae artists including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, U Roy, Culture, Burning Spear among other big names.
“When it comes to Reggae bass playing, no one comes close to having the influence of Robbie Shakespeare. He will be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music industry and Jamaica’s culture. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
(3/3) When it comes to Reggae bass playing, no one comes close to having the influence of Robbie Shakespeare. He will be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music industry and Jamaica’s culture. May his soul Rest In Peace.
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) December 8, 2021
Jamaica’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, Olivia Grange, released a statement with her condolences, saying “I am in shock and sorrow after just receiving the news that my friend and brother, the legendary bassist Robbie Shakespeare has died.”
“[Sly & Robbie] took bass playing and drumming to the highest level as they made music for themselves as a group, and for many other artists locally and internationally,” Grange continued.
“Robbie’s loss will be felt by the industry at home and abroad. He will be sorely missed.”
View more tributes from artists and other industry professionals below.
Da One Ya heavy! Gratitude for the works yes but also all the words of encouragement and the advice that u didn’t have to share but always made it a point to do. The insight that I will never over look!!! Rest In Power Unks! #RobbieShakespeare #Godly #Bass pic.twitter.com/RF6MCVkS7D
— ROYAL (@JesseRoyal1) December 8, 2021
This loss is truly unexpected. 💔 Thank you for your greatness and your contribution to Reggae music. We’ll never forget how you and Sly opened your arms to us back in 1992 and continued to be instrumental throughout our career. #RIP Robbie Shakespeare O.D. #SlyandRobbie pic.twitter.com/Ll5LQZ3PK9
— MORGAN HERITAGE (@morganheritage) December 8, 2021
RIP Robbie Shakespeare. This man’s work as part of the legendary production duo Sly & Robbie and for many others will never ever be forgotten. Gutted. Fly high Basspeare! pic.twitter.com/hRSdSUq09i
— Ghostpoet (@ghostpoet) December 8, 2021
RIP to Robbie Shakespeare, a true musical pioneer who’s contribution to music will be left indelibly for years to come.
Memories of Barrington Levy’s “Here I Come” playing on the stereo are some of the oldest musical memories I have.
Thank you for the music 🖤
— mistajam (@mistajam) December 8, 2021
Rest In Power Robbie Shakespeare
Pure genius, crystallized through art
Condolences to family and friends
— Lateef (@TruthspeakerHQ) December 8, 2021
The bass is everything in Reggae music and Robbie Shakespeare played his bass guitar like nobody else; he made the beat drop, speaker boxes shook and we rocked.His passing is a tragic loss; his contribution to the genre is immeasurable. RIP Robbie Shakespeare. pic.twitter.com/3JMMtbUrm1
— David Rodigan (@DavidRodigan) December 8, 2021