Robbie Shakespeare  

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Robert Warren Dale Shakespeare (27 September 1953 – 8 December 2021) was a Jamaican composer and musician mainly working in the reggae idiom and playing bass guitar. He is best known as one half of the rhythm section and production duo Sly and Robbie, with drummer Sly Dunbar.

Before teeming up with Sly, he'd already renewed reggae by his playing on records such as "Stalag", "None a Jah Jah Children", "Marcus Garvey", "Right Time", "None Shall Escape the Judgement" and "Jah Heavy Load".

As a part of Sly and Robbie, Shakespeare worked with various reggae artists such as U-Roy, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Sugar Minott, Augustus Pablo, Yellowman, and Black Uhuru. His production work also extended beyond the reggae genre, covering various pop and rock artists such as Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Joe Cocker, Yoko Ono, Serge Gainsbourg, and Grace Jones. Prior to his involvement in Sly and Robbie, he was a member of the session groups The Revolutionaries and The Aggrovators.

He was first seen on international television in the clip from "Don't Look Back" (1978).

He also played by bass on the Padlock EP (1983).



Shakespeare grew up in East Kingston, Jamaica. He had a musical family, so that "his family home was a rehearsal and hangout spot for a variety of upcoming musicians and singers." His brother Lloyd had a band called the Emotions which rehearsed in the house. Shakespeare's first instrument was an acoustic guitar that was always present in the home. Later, the bass player Aston "Family Man" Barrett came into his yard, as it was near a popular location for selling marijuana. Shakespeare had been trying acoustic guitar and drums, but when he heard Family Man's bass playing, he was attracted to the deep bass sound. Shakespeare recalled saying "I wan fi learn how to play this thing [bass]. You haffi teach me", and Barrett agreed to give Shakespeare bass lessons.

Shakespeare first went in a music studio when he helped carry Family Man's brother Carlton Barrett's drums into the studio and help set up the drums. This developed into sneaking into the studio and waiting outside as bands recorded. Whenever Family Man recorded, Shakespeare would try to both listen to the session and watch the bass player's hands; then afterwards, the bassist would show Shakespeare the basslines that had been recorded in person at Shakespeare's family house.

Shakespeare continued to study electric bass with Aston Barrett, the bass player from the Upsetters. He collaborated with the drummer Sly Dunbar for the first time when they played in the Channel One Studio house band, which was called The Revolutionaries. After Barrett joined the Wailers, Shakespeare took over the bass role in Barrett's former group, Hippy Boys. In 1974, Shakespeare and Dunbar started an independent music production company and record label called Taxi Records.


Shakespeare died following kidney surgery in Florida, on 8 December 2021, at the age of 68. Reports state that the musician had been suffering from kidney related issues, including a rejected organ, and was on dialysis.

Selected discography

Sly and Robbie albums


With Grace Jones

With Gwen Guthrie

With Jackson Browne

With Peter Tosh

With Joe Cocker

With Gary Barlow

  • Sing (Decca Records, 2012)

With Sting

With Joan Armatrading

With Sinéad O'Connor

With Garland Jeffreys

With Carly Simon

With Mick Jagger

With Bob Dylan

With Yoko Ono

With Serge Gainsbourg

Pages linking in as of Dec 21

44/876, A Luta Continua, About Time (New York Gong album), Album (Public Image Ltd album), Ali G Indahouse Da Soundtrack, All Rebel Rockers, Alpha Blondy, American Songs, Ansel Collins, Anthem (Black Uhuru album), As the World Turns (album), Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Aux armes et cætera (album), Axiom Collection, Baba Zula, Baldhead Bridge, Best of Me (album), Black Uhuru, Blackheart Man, Bob Dylan discography, Bonafide (Maxi Priest album), Boom Box (No Doubt album), Boops (Here to Go), Brutal (Black Uhuru album), Burning Spear, Bustin' Out (EP), Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, Catch a Fire, Chameleon (composition), Chill Out (Black Uhuru album), Cliff Hanger (album), Colbert Mukwevho, Compass Point Studios, Compliments on Your Kiss, Cool Ruler, Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Part 2, Daevid Allen, Deaths in 2021, December 8, Disco Not Disco, Don't Call Me Buckwheat, Down in the Groove, Drunken Master, Dry & Heavy (album), Dubrising, Earth's Rightful Ruler, East of the River Nile, Empire Burlesque, Enregistrement public au Théâtre Le Palace, Equal Rights (album), Erald Briscoe, Everyone Deserves Music, Forward (The Abyssinians album), Foul Play (album), Fred Frith, Fred Maher, Friends (Sly and Robbie album), Funk of Ages, Funkcronomicon, Future Shock (Herbie Hancock album), Garvey's Ghost, Good to Go (soundtrack), Great Train Robbery (song), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (album), Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley's 50th Anniversary, Hallucination Engine, Health and Strength, Hello Big Man, Here Comes the Hotstepper (album), Hey World!, His Majesty's Dub, Höfner 500/1, Höfner, Honeychild, Horses & Trees, Hortense Ellis, Humanitarian (album), Hurricane (Grace Jones album), I and I (song), Incredibad, Infidels (Bob Dylan album), Intonarumori (album), Iron Storm (album), Jackie Jackson (bassist), Jah Victory, Jamaican Heroes, Joe Gibbs (producer), Jokerman (song), Joseph Hoo Kim, Just Another Night (Mick Jagger song), Kashief Lindo, King David's Melody, King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown, Language Barrier (album), Legalize It, Liberation (Bunny Wailer album), Life (Simply Red album), Like Father Like Son (Ky-Mani Marley album), List of 2020s deaths in rock and roll, List of bass guitarists, List of Bob Marley and the Wailers band members, Live at the Hollywood Palladium, December 15, 1988, Live from Soundscape (Material album), Live in Japan (Material album), Living My Life (album), Long Life, Lord Upminster, Lucky in Love (Mick Jagger song), Made in Jamaica (album), Mama Africa (Peter Tosh album), Man from Wareika, Man in the Hills, Many Moods of Moses, Marcia Griffiths & Friends, Marcus' Children, Marcus Garvey (album), Marianne Faithfull, Material (band), Material discography, Mauvaises nouvelles des étoiles, Maxi (album), Memory Serves, Michael Beinhorn, Midnight Raver, Mikey Chung, Monty Alexander, My Xperience, Mystic Man, Mystical Truth, Nathaniel Ian Wynter, Never Trust a Hippy (Adrian Sherwood album), Night Nurse (Gregory Isaacs song), Nightclubbing (Grace Jones album), Now (Black Uhuru album), One Down, One Love, One Life, One, Two, Original Rockers, Paul Douglas (musician), Perfect Machine, Pick Up the Pieces (album), Play with Bootsy, Poetic Justice (soundtrack), Positive (Black Uhuru album), Private Beach Party, Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions, Protest (album), Pull Up to the Bumper, Ras Michael, Red (Black Uhuru album), Red Hot + Dance, Rhythm Killers, Rhythm section, Richie Spice, Right Time, Rise (Public Image Ltd song), Rockers (1978 film), Rockers Meets King Tubby in a Firehouse, Rockit (instrumental), Rockschool, Rudebox (song), Rudebox, Scientist in the Kingdom of Dub, Serge Gainsbourg, Seven Souls (album), Shakespeare (surname), Sheffield Steel, She's the Boss, Silent Assassin, Sinsemilla (album), Sly and Robbie, Sly Dunbar, Sound-System (album), Starpeace, Steinberger, Strongg, T.O.K., Tease Me (Chaka Demus & Pliers song), Temporary Music, The Aggrovators, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991, The Light (Afrika Bambaataa album), The Mighty Two, The Revolutionaries, The Score (Fugees album), The Third Power, The Very Best of Mick Jagger, Theology (album), Throw Down Your Arms, Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Toots Hibbert, Tribe (Chase & Status album), Triston Palma, Two Sevens Clash, Undercover (Rolling Stones album), Undercover of the Night, Visions of Dennis Brown, Walk Under Ladders, Wanted Dread & Alive, Warm Leatherette (album), Where There Is Life, World in Motion (Jackson Browne album)

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