Reggae became know from the late sixties, as a similar but distinguishable music type to ska, which had dominated Caribbean music prior. The pace of reggae is slower to that of ska, and it is more bass heavy, and chilled out. Early pioneers were Toots and the Maytalls, who it is suggested gave the genre its name, or at least brought it into wider consciousness, and the genre's major export, Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Bob Marley was by far the biggest reggae artist to ever exist, and is the main reason reggae crossed over into other countries, as he became one of the most famous and iconic musicians of all time. Even after his death in 1981, his popularity is still as widespread today, with his legacy living on, not only in Jamaica, but around the world, and through generations. His 'best of' album 'Legend' is one of the biggest selling global records, with close to 30 million sales.
Whilst the instruments played by reggae bands are mostly standard guitar, bass, drum, and vocal, the sounds created are definitive to the genre. The squelching bass is generally at the forefront, the hi hat often dominates the drum kit, and the set up may also be accompanied by bongos or steel drums or keyboard or French horn. This creates a recognisable sound of laid back simplicity with a depth and soul.
After reggae music had infiltrated the UK, US and other countries, its output and influence continued to grow; Island and Trojan Records released singles and albums by reggae artists; Eric Clapton and The Clash were amongst those using reggae in their songs, as it crossed into other genres, particularly punk rock; and reggae began to enter the pop charts, through bands like UB40.
Today, the genre is known everywhere, whilst having kept its traditions. From dancehalls of Jamaica to Western popularity, reggae is still living on stronger than ever in both its origins and its development.