Or Toots and the Maytals as they were later known first appeared on the Jamaican music scene in the early 60s as the ska craze swept the island. With Toots Hibberts hoarse, heartfelt vocal taking the lead they recorded a string of huge hits at Studio One and quickly became the biggest group on the Island, outselling and out-preforming everyone, including the Wailers. In 1965 they defected to Prince Buster?s camp but this partnership was short-lived and they moved to Byron Lee?s Dynamic where they made musical history by having number one hits with both sides of their ?It?s You? / ?Daddy? single. In 1966 they won the prestigious Jamaican Festival Song Competition with ?Bam Bam?, a tune that went on to be covered by numerous performers and is still frequently versioned today
Their success was temporarily cut short in late 1966 when Toots was busted and imprisoned for marijuana possession, a conviction Toots has always claimed he was fitted up for. He was released in 1968 and the group began working with Chinese ? Jamaican producer Leslie Kong and recorded some of their biggest hits in Jamaica as well as overseas such as ?Do The Reggay?, which ushered in the new era of Reggae music, ?Pressure Drop?, later covered by the Clash, ?Monkey Man? and ?54 ?46? a song about Toot?s recent experiences, 54-46 being his prisoner number whilst incarcerated. They were also Jamaican Festival Song winners again in 1969 with ?Sweet and Dandy?
Kong?s tragically early death in 1971 saw the group go back to working with Byron Lee where they released 3 albums in 3 albums (including the seminal ?Funky Kingston?) and winning the Festival Song competition yet again in 1972 with ?Pomps and Pride?
They then signed to Chris Blackwell?s Island Records, home to Bob Marley and the Wailers and became known similarly as Toots and the Maytals. Whilst their subsequent albums sold well and they performed to sell-out crowds around the world they never achieved the same level of success as their labelmates. Whilst in later years their lighter style of international reggae won them few fans in Jamaica, they?re still hugely popular elsewhere and are still recording and performing today, some 45 years after they first appeared.