Robbie Shakespeare died on December 8th during kidney surgery. He was only 68 years old.
I didn't know Robbie personally and yet his bass playing has been with me for most of my life. When I discovered reggae around 1980, the music of Sly & Robbie was ubiquitous. It was the high point of her career. There was also a huge oeuvre of rhythm twins from the 1970s to discover for me.
At some point around this time I stopped listening to the radio Dub by Sly & Robbie. It was the first time that I noticed instrumental reggae. I was absolutely delighted and started everyone Dub-Buy albums from the duo that I could get hold of at the local record store. Then in 1981 “Nightclubbing” by Grace Jones was released - with rhythms recorded by Sly & Robbie. It was a sensation. In the same year I bought "The 60's, 70's Into The 80's = Taxi" and "Sly and Robbie Present Taxi". I played the two vinyl albums so often that in the end all that was left was a smoothly planed groove. The live album "Black Uhuru: Tear It Up" followed a year later. What a great time it was! I had discovered "my" music and was showered with masterpieces. Countless other Sly & Robbie albums have followed since then, which I gradually incorporated into my record collection. At some point I began to review reggae albums for various music magazines, unfortunately at a time when the golden era of the rhythm twins was drawing to a close. Unfortunately, in the last few years in particular, I had to hack a lot of tears into the keyboard. What hurt my soul, because Sly and his partner Robbie created the soundtrack of my reggae socialization and Robbie's bass in particular was one of the main reasons why I was so in love with Dub developed. Now Robbie Shakespeare is leaving one of my most important identifying figures in reggae. The Rhythm Twins are irretrievably history. It makes me sad. Rest in peace, Robbie.
Photo: Schorle, CC BY-SA 4.0