Robbie Shakespeare dead: Sly and Robbie legend dies aged 68


Robbie Shakespeare

Robbie Shakespeare has died (Picture: Tommy Jackson/Redferns)

Robbie Shakespeare, bassist and star of the reggae duo Sly and Robbie, has died at the age of 68, with tributes pouring in.

Jamaica’s Culture Minister, Olivia Grange, announced the news of his death, saying in a statement: ‘I am in shock and sorrow after just receiving the news that my friend and brother, the legendary basist [sic] Robbie Shakespeare has died.

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‘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 severely felt by the industry at home and abroad. My condolences to those he leaves behind. Love you, Robbie. Rest in peace.’

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, Shakespeare had undergone surgery related to his kidneys.

The musician, whose career spanned more than half a century, worked with stars including Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Madonna, alongside many more.

Photo of Sly & Robbie

Sly and Robbie were hugely influential in reggae history (Picture: Getty Images)

He was also nominated for 13 Grammys and won two – one in 1984 for best reggae recording and in 1998 for best reggae album.

Shakespeare was born in Kingston, Jamaica, learning how to play the bass in his early years.

He teamed up with drummer Sly Dunbar in the 1970s, with the pair going on to become some of the biggest and most influential names in reggae history.

Shakespeare helped to create the sounds behind hugely influential songs, including Murder She Wrote and Bam Bam, and even contributed to TV and film soundtracks, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Poetic Justice.

Tributes have poured in for the late star.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said on Twitter: ‘When it comes to Reggae bass playing, no one comes close to having the influence of Robbie Shakespeare.’

David Rodigan, reggae DJ on BBC 1xtra, said: ‘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.’

Grammy-winning reggae band Morgan Heritage added: ”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.’


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