The family of Reggae icon Toots Hibbert have said that they had nothing to do with the cancellation of a tribute concert featuring The Maytals Band and several international stars to celebrate the life of the Toots & The Maytals frontman, who passed away on September 11, 2020 at the age of 77.
Al Hardwicke Kassi, head of Midnight Mango Ltd, had told DancehallMag earlier this month, that the tribute concert would have to be cancelled after his booking agency received a cease and desist letter from the lawyers for the executors of the Frederick (Toots) Hibbert estate.
The tribute show – part of a 10 show tour – was planned for the Roundhouse in London on September 4. According to Kassi, “profits from the show were destined to be given to the Toots Hibbert Foundation, such was the love for Toots and the Maytals. Important music figures like UB40 wanted to be a part of the show because we have not had the chance to celebrate Toots since his death.”
Now the Hibbert’s family has released a statement denying that the concert was cancelled because of the cease and desist letter from Toot’s estate.
Leba Hibbert, Toot’s daughter and Vice President of the Toots Hibbert Foundation, has claimed that the cancellation was a result of bad decisions on the part of the promoters and the band members. “Anyone claiming to organize tribute shows in aid of the “Toots Foundation” without the knowledge or written permission of the President, Mrs Doreen Hibbert or myself, the VP of the foundation, is misleading the public,” the statement said.
“Neither my mother, Mrs Doreen Hibbert, who is the President of the Toots Hibbert Foundation or myself, has had any dialogue with the promoters of this tribute event and we’re not pleased that we are being used as scapegoats now that the event is cancelled. We will not take this lying down,” Miss Hibbert said. “Don’t blame us, blame yourselves.”
She continued, “Anyone paying close attention to what’s going on can see that they’re trying to blame us for something that we did not do. A recent newspaper article stated that this event was cancelled because the members of my father’s former backing band were concerned about the reopening of England as it relates to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. So I would like to know why there is another article out now that’s blaming the Toots Hibbert Foundation for the cancellation of this concert?”
On July 17, DancehallMag reported that the principals of the Maytals band had been served a cease and desist letter by the law firm, Isaacman, Kaufman, Painter, Lowy and Zucker who are representing “the heirs of Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, a.k.a. ‘Toots and the Maytals’” who are alleging that the band members cannot perform under the Maytals band name for any upcoming gigs or tours.
In the statement today, Miss Hibbert said the cease and desist letters were sent to the Maytals and some promoters in the UK on the 15th of July, because they were using the ‘Toots and the Maytals’ trademark, the ‘Toots Hibbert’ trademark and images of Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert to promote an event that they claimed was in aid of the ‘Toots Foundation.’
She added, “Shows that no one spoke to us about, they were also using the name ‘The Maytals Band’ which is currently in dispute.”
“The cease and desist order was sent to the band because they attempted to use the Toots and Maytals name without my family’s permission. This is something that we feel very strongly about. The name Toots & The Maytals belonged to my father, and now that he’s no longer here physically, it belongs to his estate and we will not let anyone trample on his legacy or exploit his name or his works for their personal gain. Don’t blame us for your bad decisions,” Miss Hibbert continued.
However, the Maytals band members are prepared for what could be a fierce legal battle. Speaking on the issue of the disputed “The Maytals Band” name, an upset Jackie Jackson, veteran guitarist of The Maytals, had told DancehallMag that “we are prepared to fight this to the ends of the earth. If Toots knew about this, forget rolling, he would be standing up in his grave, him wouldn’t roll, him woulda stand up.”
The Maytals band, which has been touring for over 52 years, comprises Clifton ‘Jackie’ Jackson, Charles Faquharson, Carl Harvey, Earl Paul Douglas, and Radcliffe Bryan.
Jackson said he believes the lawsuit is frivolous and would ultimately fail.
“We are not Toots and the Maytals, we are the Maytals band and they seem to forget that. The Maytals band was registered from 2007 with our name and Frederick’s name on the document at JIPO. We didn’t even know that it can expire and in 2017, we re-registered it again, and we are legal again for another ten years. We have sought legal advice and we are told that this letter has no basis and we have nothing to worry about, but we weren’t worried in the first place,” Jackson said.
Jackson added that Toots Hibbert did an album with The Maytals called Toots Presents The Maytals. “That shows that Toots himself recognized that the Maytals was a separate entity,” Jackson said.
The group won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album last year, and are known for hit songs such as Bam Bam, Sweet and Dandy, and Pressure Drop.