Peter Tosh

Peter Tosh

Infobox musical artist
Name = Peter Tosh

Img_capt = Peter Tosh (left) on the Bush Doctor tour, 1978
Landscape = yes
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Winston Hubert McIntosh
Alias = Stepping Razor
Born = October 19, 1944
Died = September 11 1987 (aged 42)
Origin = Westmoreland, Jamaica
Instrument = piano, guitar, among others
Voice_type =
Genre = reggae, ska, rocksteady, R&B
Occupation = singer, musician, revolutionary
Years_active =
Label = Intel-Diplo
Associated_acts = The Wailers
Bob Marley
Current_members =
Past_members =
Notable_instruments =

Peter Tosh, born Winston Hubert McIntosh (October 19Fact|date=October 2008 1944 – September 11 1987) was a a reggae musician who was a core member of The Wailers who then went on to have a successful solo career as well as being a trailblazer for the Rastafari movement.

Tosh grew up in the Kingston, Jamaica slum of Trenchtown. He stood out because of his height at 6 feet, 5 1/2 inches. His short-fuse temper and unveiled sarcasm usually kept him in trouble, earning him the nickname "Steppin' Razor" after a song written by Joe Higgs, an early mentor. He began to sing and learn guitar at a young age, inspired by the American stations he could pick up on his radio. After an illustrious career with the Wailers and as a solo musician, he was murdered at his home. Robbery was officially said to be the motivation behind Tosh's death.

With The Wailers

In the early 1960s Tosh met Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer through his vocal teacher, Joe Higgs. While perfecting their sound, the trio would often play together on street corners in a Jamaican slum called Trenchtown. Joe Higgs was the man who taught the trio to harmonize as well as teaching Marley to play the guitar. In 1962, he was the driving forceFact|date=April 2008 behind the formation of The Wailing Wailers with Junior Braithwaite and backup singers Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith. The Wailing Wailers had a huge ska hit with their first single, "Simmer Down," and recorded several more successful singles before Braithwaite, Kelso and Smith left the band in late 1965. Marley spent much of 1966 in America with his mother, Cedella (Malcolm) Marley-Booker and for a short time was working at a nearby Chrysler factory. He then returned to Jamaica in early 1967 with a renewed interest in music and a new spirituality. McIntosh and Bunny were already Rastafarians when Marley returned from the U.S., and the three became heavily involved in the Rastafari movement. Soon afterwards, they renamed the group The Wailers. Tosh would later explain that they chose the name Wailers because to "wail" means to mourn or to, as he put it, " ones feelings vocally".

Veering away from the up-tempo dance of ska, the band slowed down to a rocksteady pace, and infused their lyrics with political and social messages. The Wailers penned several songs for the American born singer Johnny Nash before teaming up with production wizard Lee Perry to record some of reggae's earliest hits including "Soul Rebel," "Duppy Conqueror" and "Small Axe." With the addition of bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his brother, drummer Carlton in 1970, The Wailers became Caribbean superstars. The band signed a recording contract with Chris Blackwell and Island Records and released their debut, "Catch a Fire", in 1973, following it up with "Burnin'" the same year.

In 1973, Tosh was driving home with his then-girlfriend Evonne when his car was hit by another car driving on the wrong side of the road. The accident killed Evonne and severely fractured Tosh's skull. He survived, but became even harder to deal with. After Island Records president Chris Blackwell refused to issue his solo album in 1974, the volatile Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the Wailers, citing the unfair treatment they received from Blackwell, whom Tosh often referred to as 'Whiteworst'.

olo career

Tosh began recording under the name Peter Tosh, and released his solo debut, "Legalize It", in 1976 on CBS Records. The title track soon became an anthem for supporters of marijuana legalization, Reggae lovers and Rastafarians all over the world, and was a favourite at Tosh's concerts.Fact|date=July 2008 As Marley preached his "One Love" message, Tosh railed against the hypocritical "shitstem," and became a favourite target of the Jamaican police. He proudly wore the scars that he had received from the beatings he endured.Fact|date=July 2008 Always taking the militant approach, he released "Equal Rights" in 1977. Tosh put together a backing band, Word, Sound and Power who were to accompany him on tour for the next few years, and many of whom appeared on his albums of this period. In 1978 Rolling Stones Records signed Tosh, and the album "Bush Doctor" was released, introducing Tosh to a larger audience. The single from the album, a cover of "The Temptations" song "Don't Look Back", performed as a duet with Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, turned Tosh into one of the best known Reggae artists.Fact|date=July 2008 Tosh, as The Wailers' guitarist, the best-known Reggae group, is considered as one of the originators of the choppy and syncopated Reggae guitar style.Fact|date=July 2008

In the free One Love Peace Concert in 1978, first Tosh lambasted the audience, including attending dignitaries, with political demands that included legalizing cannabis. He did this while smoking a spliff, a criminal act in Jamaica. Bob Marley asked both then-Prime Minister Michael Manley, and opposition leader Edward Seaga onto the stage; and a famous picture was taken with all three of them holding their hands together above their heads in a symbolic gesture of peace during what had been a very violent election campaign.Fact|date=July 2008

"Mystic Man" (1979), and "Wanted Dread and Alive" (1981) followed. Released on the Rolling Stones' own record label, Tosh tried to gain some mainstream success while keeping his militant views, but was largely unsuccessful, especially compared to Marley's achievements. That same year, Tosh appeared in the Stones' video, Waiting on a Friend.

After the release of 1983's "Mama Africa", Tosh went into self-imposed exile, seeking the spiritual advice of traditional medicine men in Africa, and trying to free himself from recording agreements that distributed his records in South Africa.Fact|date=July 2008

Tosh also participated in the international opposition to South African apartheid by appearing at Anti-Apartheid concerts and by reflecting his stance in various songs like "Apartheid" (1977, re-recorded 1987), "Equal Rights" (1977), "Fight On" (1979), and "Not Gonna Give It Up" (1983). In 1991 "Stepping Razor - Red X" was released, a film - documentary by Nicholas Campbell and produced by Wayne Jobson and based upon a series of spoken-word tapes recorded by Tosh himself, which chronicled the story of Tosh's life, music and untimely death.


In 1987, Tosh appeared to be on the way to a career revival. He was awarded a Grammy for Best Reggae Performance in 1987 for "No Nuclear War". However on September 11 1987, just after Tosh had returned to his home in Jamaica, a three-man gang came to his house demanding money. Tosh replied that he did not have any with him but the gang did not believe him. They stayed at his residence for several hours in an attempt to extort money from Peter. During this time many of Tosh's friends came to his house to greet him following his return to Jamaica. As people began to arrive, the gunmen became more and more frustrated. Especially the leader of the gang, Dennis 'Leppo' Lobban, a man whom Peter had befriended and tried to help find work after a long jail sentence. Peter must have been disgusted by this turn of events and made it very clear that he would never give them what they came for. Upon realizing that they would not get anything from the robbery, the gangs leader put a gun to Peter's head and fired twice killing him instantly. The other gunmen began shooting, wounding several others and killing disc jockey Jeff "Free I" Dixon. Leppo turned himself over to the authorities, and was tried and convicted in the shortest jury deliberation in Jamaican history: eleven minutes.Fact|date=July 2008 He was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted in 1995 and he remains in prison. [ [ Ivan impacts on celebrations for Peter Tosh - JAMAICAOBSERVER.COM ] ] Neither of his two alleged accomplices were found, though rumours persist that both were gunned down in the streets.Fact|date=April 2008


Tosh's sarcastic outlook on the world carried over to his lyrics. He would merrily twist words around to better reflect his true feelings [ [ - Dictionary] ] . This trick of language, also known as word salad, was later emulated by many reggae musicians, including Marley [An example is the word "birth cerfi-ticket" (instead of "birth certificate") from the lyrics of Marley's song "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)"] .

* "America" -> "Asadica"
* "Buckingham" -> "Buk-In-Hamm"
* "Bureaucrats" -> "Bureaucraps"
* "Christopher Columbus" -> "Christ-t'ief Come-rob-us"
* "City" -> "Shitty"
* "Disc jockey" -> "District johncrow" (johncrow is a Jamaican vulture)
* "Germany" -> "Germs-many"
* "Judge" -> "Grudge"
* "Kingston" -> "Killsome"
* "L.A." -> "Hell A" (Los Angeles)
* "Lawyer" -> "Liar"
* "LSD" -> "Lucifer Son of Devil" (referred to as the drug of the devil)
* "Managers" -> "Damagers"
* "Marco Polo" -> "Marc O. Polio"
* "New York City" -> "Boo York Shitty"
* "Politics" -> "Politricks"
* "Prime Ministers" -> "Crime Ministers"
* "Situation" -> "Shituation"
* "System" -> "Shitstem"
* "Technology" -> "Tricknology"
* "Trinidad" -> "Trinibad"
* "Producer" -> "Reducer"
* "Unicycle" -> I'n'I-cycle"

Also Tosh was known for his excessive use of words like "bumbo klaat", "rasclaat" and "bloodclaat", which have the same significance in Jamaica as the word fuck in the rest of the English-speaking world.

ee also

*Rastafari movement
*List of Rastafarians
*List of reggae musicians


tudio albums

* "Negril" (1975)
* "Legalize It" (1976)
* "Equal Rights" (1977)
* "Bush Doctor" (1978)
* "Mystic Man" (1979)
* "Wanted Dread And Alive" (1981)
* "Mama Africa" (1983)
* "No Nuclear War" (1987)
* "I Am That I Am" (2001)

Live albums

* "Captured Live" (1984)
* "Live at the One Love Peace Concert" (2000)
* "" (2001)
* "Live At The Jamaica World Music Festival 1982" (2002)
* "Complete Captured Live" (2004)


These are the highest rated compilation albums on Allmusic.

* "Collection Gold" (1994)
* "The Toughest" (1996)
* "The Best of Peter Tosh - Dread Don't Die" (1996)
* "Honorary Citizen" (1997)
* "Scrolls Of The Prophet: The Best of Peter Tosh" (1999)
* "Arise Black Man" (1999)
* "The Essential Peter Tosh - the Columbia Years" (2003)
* "Talking Revolution (2005)


External links

* [ Peter Tosh] on Allmusic
* [ Discography]
* [ Peter Tosh - Feature]
* [ VitalSpot - Peter Tosh]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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