It is possible that in a little while Tosh and his contribution to reggae will be but a footnote. His former friend and bandmate (and later, rival), Bob Marley, would be the only recognizable name of the trailblazing trio - Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh. But if Marley was the charismatic leader, Peter Tosh was the backbone of the group.
Initially, Tosh was the only one in the group who could play musical instruments. According to Bunny Wailer, Tosh was critical to the band because he was a self-taught guitarist and keyboardist, and thus became an inspiration for the other band members to learn to playhttp://en.wikipedia.org/...
And while no performer since the codifying of popular Jamaican music has dominated the reggae world with quite the arresting impact as Bob Marley, it remains true as well that no single artiste aside from Marley is more important to the development of dynamism in reggae than Peter Tosh.
Tall, athletic and handsome, Tosh was the smartest, most intuitively educated reggae musician I have had the good fortune to know. He could hold court at any metropolitan cocktail gathering, demonstrating, as I have witnessed, a knowledge and understanding of past and current national and international issues. It was better still when laced with his novel verbal twists and clever wordplay, which were grounded in the idiomatic vernacular of the Jamaican country or common urban folk.http://jamaica-gleaner.com/...
As a performer, Peter Tosh was even more dynamic than Bob. His total irreverence, his uncompromising lyrics and delivery along with the ever present spliff made for quite a show.
An eyewitness account:
A few minutes later, Tosh strode purposefully on stage, a commanding figure at six foot four, dressed in flowing African robes. Without saying a word, he halted in the centre of the stage, faced the crowd, and stood motionless for a few seconds with his hands crossed in front of his body.Peter Tosh was more than just an entertainer. He was a rebel with a cause. Passionately advocating for the legalization of marijuana, getting arrested and beaten for protesting against apartheid in South Africa and Zimbabwe, organizing and performing free for youth groups.
Then, ever so slowly, he put one hand into a pocket in his robes, and produced a cigar-like object that clearly contained something other than conventional tobacco. Equally deliberately, he took a lighter out of another pocket, applied it to the cigar-like object, put it to his mouth and sucked on it for what seemed like an eternity. He stood for a few seconds savouring whatever it might have been he’d ingested, threw back his head and blew a huge, billowing cloud of bluish-grey smoke in the air, deliberately in the direction of a smoke detector in the ceiling over the stage.
At which the crowd, howling with delight, relit the “cigarettes” they’d recently been forced to extinguish, and – with fire officials wisely deciding against any further involvement – the show started.
On stage, when he wasn’t making political points, he was seldom less than magnificent, conveying a range of emotions from confrontational and rebellious to poignant and reflective.
Tosh was murdered in a particularly brutal fashion at age 42 in 1987.
Equal Rights and Justice:
The Poor Man Feels It:
I am the Toughest:
I have to confess that I don't own any of Peter's albums. I do, however, have almost all of Bob's.
What's your favorite Peter Tosh song?