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Robbie Shakespeare
Schorle, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bassist Robbie Shakespeare Dead At 68

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(CelebrityAccess) — Robbie Shakespeare, a Jamaican bass player and record producer who performed with the reggae and dub acts such as the Aggrovators, and the Revolutionaries, as well as with drummer Sly Dunbar as one half of the rhythm section Sly & Robbie, has died. He was 68.

According to multiple media sources, Shakespeare died in a Florida hospital from complications of a kidney and liver transplant performed last year.

Regarded as one of the most influential reggae bassists in history, Shakespeare grew up in East Kingston, Jamaica, as part of a musical family, including his brother Lloyd with played with the band The Emotions.

His family’s home was a common hangout spot for local musicians and that’s where he met noted Jamaican artist Aston “Family Man” Barrett, who agreed to teach Shakespeare the electric bass.

As a part of Sly and Robbie, Shakespeare went on to work with some of the biggest names in reggae, including Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Yellowman, and Gregory Isaacs, among others.

Over the course of his career, Shakespeare received 13 Grammy nominations, but won only two – one in 1984 for best reggae recording for “Anthem” and then again, 14 years later when he won best reggae album for his 1997 album “Friends.”

He also collaborated with numerous artists outside of Jamaica, including Sinead O’Connor, Sting, Joan Armstrong, Grace Jones, Jackson Browne, Mick Jagger, Carly Simon, Bob Dylan, Serge Gainsbourg, and Joe Cocker, among others.

Following his passing, 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.


Robbie and Sly Dunbar (the drummer) as Sly and Robbie, have been among Jamaica’s greatest musicians.

This fantastic team took bass playing and drumming to the highest level as they made music for themselves as a group, and for many other artistes locally and internationally.

Robbie’s loss will be felt by the industry at home and abroad. He will be sorely missed.

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