When it comes to reggae bass playing, no one comes close to having the influence of Robbie Shakespeare.
As one half of the Riddim Twins, a duo that he shares with drummer Sly Dunbar, Shakespeare has played on a very long list of albums: in addition to recording and producing albums for reggae artists including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, U Roy, Culture, Burning Spear, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Jimmy Cliff, Mighty Diamonds, Sugar Minnott, Pablo Moses, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Sean Paul, Shaggy, Augustus Pablo, Yellowman, and Black Uhuru, he and Dunbar also frequently supply their rhythmic and studio expertise to such pop and rock stars as Mick Jagger, Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, Grace Jones, Sinead O'Connor, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Britney Spears, Simply Red and Ian Dury, to name but a few...
With their own albums, they set the standard for scaled-down, bass and drum dubbing.
A veteran of such session bands as Bunny Lee's Aggrovators, Shakespeare first collaborated with Dunbar as members of Channel One Studio house band, the Revolutionaries. Deciding to try their luck as a duo, in 1974 they formed an independent production company and record label, Taxi Records. Their first production, "Soon Forward" by Gregory Isaacs, was a major hit and set them off on a path of success that has yet to abate.
Shakespeare has continued to expand the possibilities of his bass playing. Known for his creative use of electronics and production effects, he and Dunbar recorded an electro-reggae album with imaginative DJ Howie B. He was awarded several Grammy awards with Black Uhuru and with Sly Dunbar on their solo project "Friends".
Shakespeare and Dunbar have also produced the soundtracks for several films including Club Paradise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Poetic Justice, and the all-time best grossing Jamaican film, Third World Cop.
"When I first tried Markbass I was amazed," says Robbie. "The weight and the sound… Damn… I was so amazed, so blown away. Robbie Basspeare playin’ a Robbie bass using a Markbass amp equals DEATH! The wickedest sound you can ever get from a bass.”
R.I.P. Robbie (8 December 2021)