Formed in the early '60s when ska was hot, the Maytals had a reputation for having strong, well-blended voices and a seldom rivaled passion for their music. Hibbert's soulful style led him to be compared to Otis Redding. They first recorded with producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and the resulting album, Hallelujah, offered a blend of gospel-style vocals and soul sung to a horn-driven Jamaican beat. They were popular from the start, but after recording a few sides with Studio One, they left Dodd in favor of Prince Buster. With him, they soon gained a bigger Jamaican following and also became popular in Great Britain. The Maytals began working with Byron Lee in 1966. Hits from this era include "Dog War," "Daddy" and "Broadway Jungle."
That year Lee and his Dragonaires backed the Maytals at the premiere Jamaican Festival Song Competition. Their song, "Bam Bam," won the contest and began a rapid ascent to real stardom. Occasionally, the Maytals would record with other producers, who perhaps to keep from having to pay royalties, would put different band names on the labels such as the Vikings, the Royals and the Flames. The Maytals were reaching the height of their popularity towards the end of 1966 when Hibbert was arrested for smoking and possessing ganja and was sent to prison for 18 months. Fortunately the other two Maytals, who were best friends with Hibbert and realized that they could not possibly recreate their unique sound with another front man, waited for him.