Sly and Robbie: Reggae bassist Robbie Shakespeare dies age 68

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Tributes have been paid to reggae bassist Robbie Shakespeare who has died aged 68.

The Jamaican musician was part of the duo Sly and Robbie and produced music for a host of legendary artists including Bob Marley, Mick Jagger and Grace Jones.

The bassist had recently undergone surgery related to his kidneys in a Florida hospital, according to The Jamaica Gleaner.

Born in Jamaican capital Kingston in 1953, Shakespeare learned to play the bass under the mentorship of Aston “Family Man” Barrett, of The Wailers and The Upsetters.

He went on to form Sly and Robbie with drummer Sly Dunbar in the mid-70s. The pair produced records for a myriad of acts in the coming decades, including Madonna, Britney Spears and U Roy.

They also released several albums of their own, including 2019’s ‘The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics’, which was nominated for a Grammy award.

Jamaican prime minister Robert Holness was among those paying tribute, tweeting: “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.”

Jamaica’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, Olivia Grange, said: “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.”

British band UB40 also paid tribute in an Instagram post. They said Shakespeare would be remembered as “one of the greatest and most influential bass players in reggae music”.

They added: “Rest easy Robbie, your music lives on for ever”.

Shakespeare was placed at No17 in Rolling Stone’s feature on The Greatest Bassists Of All Time, published in July 2020.

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