According to The Jamaica Gleaner, Shakespeare had recently undergone surgery related to his kidneys. He had been in hospital in Florida.
“When it comes to Reggae bass playing, no one comes close to having the influence of Robbie Shakespeare,” tweeted the Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness. “He will be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music industry and Jamaica’s culture.”
Sly and Robbie had come together in the mid-70s after Shakespeare already carved out his own music career from a young age. The pair bonded over their varied taste in music but specifically their interest in Reggae production. Their breakout work was on Mighty Diamonds’ 1976 album Right Time.
In the following decade, their status grew as they worked with artists such as Joe Cocker and Grace Jones. They were also responsible for key shifts in Reggae music as it headed to digital, introducing the “Rockers” beat and later working with Chaka Demus & Pliers to create a novel sound that distinguished songs such as Bam Bam and Murder She Wrote.
The pair worked with artists such as Madonna, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, Sting, Serge Gainsbourg and Britney Spears.