Robert Robbie Shakespeare, the legendary Jamaican reggae artist known as “Robbie Shakespeare,” passed away on Sunday evening following a short illness.
“It is with deep sorrow and sorrow that the family of the legendary songwriter and entertainer, Robbie Shakespeare have to announce the passing of him following a short illness,” the news was shared on Robbie Shakespeare’s Facebook page on Monday.
Robbie Shakespeare, who was born in the Jamaica capital of Kingston, began his music career in 1962 in an independent reggae band with the band “The Skatchers.” He had a successful run as a solo artist over the next five years before reggae musicians Youth, Dennis Brown and Junior Reid recorded the cover of Shakespeare’s song “Ship Drank River Boat.”
“Ship Drank River Boat” became Jamaica’s first international hit, spending six weeks at number one on the Jamaican music charts.
The song was also a hit in the U.S. and was used by Oliver Stone in his Oscar-winning film, “Wall Street.”
Following the success of “Ship Drank River Boat,” Robbie Shakespeare went on to make over 50 albums and recorded in multiple languages.
Robbie Shakespeare was awarded with six awards, including a gold gramophone for his album “So You Thought You Could Hide” in 1973. He was also inducted into the Jamaica Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2010.
The musician’s death is being widely reported as one of Jamaica’s greatest musical losses. The announcement of his death on Monday morning was met with a steady stream of condolence messages and was marked on social media with tweets in both Jamaican and English.
Robbie Shakespeare is survived by his four children, daughters Cori and Nico and sons Brett and Jonathan.