Sly And Robbie bassist Robbie Shakespeare has died aged 68

Robbie Shakespeare, one half of influential reggae and dancehall production duo and rhythm section Sly And Robbie, has died at the age of 68.

His death was announced by Jamaica’s Culture Minister Olivia Grange, in a social media statement calling the duo “among Jamaica’s greatest musicians” and saying that: “[Sly and 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.”

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Shakespeare’s career spanned almost half a century, and saw him collaborate with artists such as Peter Tosh, Bob Dylan, Grace Jones and the Rolling Stones. He first learned bass under the tutelage of Aston Barrett, bassist for The Wailers.

In Sly And Robbie, alongside drummer Sly Dunbar, Shakespeare produced countless albums, and the duo would be credited as an enormous influence on the sounds of reggae, dub and dancehall.

Shakespeare was nominated for 13 Grammy awards, winning two. In 1984 he won the Grammy for best reggae recording for Anthem, and in 1998 he won the Grammy for best reggae album for Friends.

Figures from around the world of music have paid tribute to Shakespeare on social media. Reggae band Morgan Heritage wrote: “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.”

Island Records wrote: “We are saddened to hear the passing of legendary musician, producer, and artist Robbie Shakespeare. The world has lost a creative genius whose mark on bringing reggae music to the mainstream will last forever. Our condolences to his family and friends.”

UB40 wrote: “RIP Robbie Shakespeare. Another legend gone too soon.”

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