Tribute concert for Toots spiked by cease-and-desist letter
Al Hardwicke Kassi, the booking agent who has represented Toots and the Maytals in the United Kingdom for the last 20 years, insists that it was a cease-and-desist letter from the estate of the late Maytals frontman that has resulted in the postponement of the tribute concert originally set for September 4 at the iconic Roundhouse in London, England.
“I have read where it was said that it was the COVID, but it was definitely the desist letter from Toots’ family. It is such a shame! We were just about to take a decision as regards the pandemic, but this letter basically took the decision for us,” Hardwicke Kassi told The Gleaner.
“There is a lot of love and affection here in the UK for Toots, and the programme was all about celebrating him. The British stars would have been playing for free because it is a tribute show. Everything would have been to the benefit of the estate. As is stated on the Roundhouse website, all proceeds from the show would have been given to the Toots Hibbert Foundation,” the chief executive officer of the Midnight Mango booking agency explained.
Hardwicke Kassi said he received the letter via email on July 15 and emphasised that the situation was “not a good one” and hoped that “they come to their senses soon”.
“Toots Hibbert has a legacy, and as far as I see, this event would have been upholding the legacy. I hope that they come to their senses and realise that Toots Hibbert is a national treasure. I have known the members of the Maytals band for 20 years, and they play for the love of it. Why else would 60- and 70-year-old gentlemen be breaking their backs to travel all over to play music? It’s not the money. They love to play, and they love to play together,” said the booking agent, who has a number of reggae artistes on his roster, including Israel Vibrations, Beres Hammond, Droop Lion and the Gladiators, and Gyptian.
The concert would have featured the Maytals and a host of A-list acts. Information on the Roundhouse website stated that “Soundcrash and The Maytals would like to invite you to the official Toots Tribute Concert. The Maytals will be taking to the stage at Roundhouse and will be joined by special guests including Ali Campbell & Astro, Lee Scratch Perry, Aswad, Pauline Black (The Selector), Neville Staples (Ex The Specials), Rhoda Dakar (The Bodysnatchers) and many more celebrity guests and friends of Toots. Together they will be performing a selection of tunes from the legendary musical catalogue of Toots & The Maytals.”
PROCEEDS GO TO TOOTS FOUNDATION
It added that all proceeds would go to charities supported by Toots via the Toots Foundation. The iconic circular venue, constructed in 1847, has a capacity of 3,300 standing and 1,700 seated, and the organiser is hopeful that the venue will be available when a new date is hopefully set.
The Maytals band, which has been touring together for more than 50 years, comprises Clifton ‘Jackie’ Jackson, Charles Farquharson, Carl Harvey, Earl Paul Douglas, and Radcliffe Bryan. They received a cease-and-desist letter from lawyers representing Toots’ estate, also in July. The letter stated in part: “It has come to our attention that you, or persons purporting to be authorised by you, are infringing and/or contemplating the infringement of our clients’ service mark, ‘Toots and the Maytals’, by, inter alia, advertising and offering to provide entertainment services using the mark ‘The Maytals Band’…. Accordingly, our clients hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist your use or contemplated use of any mark confusingly similar to our clients’ mark including, but not limited to, your use or contemplated use of the mark, ‘The Maytals Band’.”
Jackson told The Gleaner previously that the matter is in the capable hands of the band’s attorney. “Our legal team will be issuing a release at the appropriate time, and we have been advised not to discuss it at this time. However, all I will say is that it is a storm in a teacup,” he said.
Toots Hibbert died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11. He was 77.
Toots and the Maytals won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album last year and are known for hit songs such as Bam Bam, Sweet and Dandy, and Pressure Drop.