Robbie Shakespeare 1953 – 2021


The legendary reggae bassist of the duo Sly & Robbie has passed away at the age of 68.

By Andy Kahn Dec 9 2021 • 6:18 a.m. PST

Legendary reggae bassist Robbie shakespeare, from the influential duo Sly & Robbie, died at the age of 68 in a Florida hospital from kidney surgery. Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia Grange has confirmed her death, which has been reported by many Jamaican press briefings.

“I am in shock and sorrow after learning that my friend and brother, legendary bassist Robbie Shakespeare has passed away,” Grange wrote. “Robbie and Sly Dunbar, the drummer, along with Sly and Robbie, were among Jamaican’s greatest musicians. This fantastic team has taken bass and drums to the highest level making music for themselves as a band and for many other local and international artists. The loss of Robbie will be hit hard by the industry at home and abroad. My condolences to those he leaves behind. I love you, Robbie. Rest in peace.”

Born Robert Warren Dale Shakespeare on September 27, 1954 in East Kingston, Jamaica, he was exposed to music from an early age. Shakespeare’s first bass lessons came from Aston “Family Man” Barrett, who would become a member of Lee Perry’s Bob Marley & The Wailers and The Upsetters.

“My condolences to the family, friends and fans of Jamaican reggae musician and record producer, Robbie Shakespeare of the Sly and Robbie fame,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said. “Legendary bassist Robbie Shakespeare has been instrumental in recording and producing albums for various Reggae artists including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, U Roy, Culture, Burning Spear, among other big names. When it comes to playing Reggae bass, no one comes close to having the influence of Robbie Shakespeare. He will be remembered for his remarkable contribution to the music industry and Jamaican culture. That his soul rests in peace.”

Early in his professional career, Shakespeare was a session musician, performing with The Aggrovators and The Revolutionaries. In the early 1970s, he met the drummer Sly dunbar and formed the production duo known as Sly & Robbie. In addition to releasing several of their own albums, the duo have worked with Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Joe Cocker, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Grace Jones, Serge Gainsbourg, No Doubt, Sinéad O’Connor and many others.

Reggae artists that Sly & Robbie have collaborated with include Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Mighty Diamonds, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru, Beenie Man, Matisyahu and U Roy, among many others.


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