Peter Tosh Prophecies



Peter Tosh was born into future-less poverty, and raised without a father by an aunt in rural Jamaica. The future reggae legend walked alone to Kingston as a teenager, determined to make a life for himself outside the ghetto. Self-reliant and fiercely independent Tosh evolved into a revolutionary musician who fought for those who could not fight themselves, providing a voice for the voiceless while going blow for blow against the island’s political power structure. The upper crust of Jamaican society saw Peter as a threat to the existing regime while the people saw Peter as a dreadlocked rebel hero. And hero he was. To the frightened establishment he was six feet five inches of walking danger, the stepping razor, a ganja smoking criminal that spoke of open revolution. Peter Tosh lived his image; he wasn’t interested in being a pop star but a champion of human rights. Tosh exposed corruption and shone a light on the wickedness of the world, using his music as a weapon to liberate people from the chains of Babylon both physically and mentally. Peter’s musical journey began in the early sixties when he, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley used to practice making music together in the roughest parts of the Kingston ghetto –Trench town. Peter taught Bob Marley to play the guitar and with the help of Kingston music guru Joe Higgs, the newly formed Wailers were soon recording with Coxsone Dodd, the owner and producer of the legendary Studio One record label. A few months later the teenagers had their first number one hit on the Jamaican music charts. The hits kept coming but after only earning a meager three pounds a week at Studio One, Peter Tosh and the Wailers decided to leave Coxsone Dodd, to work with the infamous Lee 'Scratch' Perry. This deal proved no better for the Wailers, releasing three albums in the United Kingdom under the Trojan label, none of which they received payment for. Tosh would also find recordings of his rehearsal sessions secretly released in England, under the pseudonym Peter Touch, a move that soured his views on record producers and the industry in general. 



As the 70’s dawned Tosh and the Wailers continued to pay their musical dues barely earning enough to survive. Getting by on sheer determination, ganja and mango’s their fortunes changed in 1972 when they met the producer who not only changed musical history but also their lives forever. Chris Blackwell signed the Wailers to the upstart Island Records label, and gave them 5,000 pounds to record their debut album Catch a Fire. Marketed as a rock album, and featuring an artsy cover that resembled a zippo lighter, Catch a Fire hit the mainstream and served as the introduction for most people to reggae music. Featuring the Tosh written classics “400 years” and “Stop That Train”, it was also an introduction to the militant, outspoken, rebel approach of Peter Tosh – traits that followed him to his grave. The Wailers' second album, Burnin', was a progression of the first, with continuing themes of social injustice and fighting against oppressive political systems. The classic song “Get up, Stand up” a Tosh and Marley duet was the embodiment of the Wailers’ anti-establishment beliefs and future theme song for all would be activists. But weak album sales and Peter and Bunny’s lacking desire to perform outside of Jamaica would split up the Wailers for good in 1974. Burnin' would be the group's final collaboration and Peter always held a grudge with Marley believing that Blackwell manipulated Bob into disbanding the group. With an uncertain future Tosh continued his musical plight to fight for people's rights and delivered Legalize it a debut album that signaled a call to legalize marijuana 40 years before it happened.  



For the next decade Tosh blazed a brilliant solo career spanning 8 albums in which he was able to impart his messages of equality, social injustice, Rastafarian wisdom and the benefits of herb through spiritually uplifting reggae music. Peter was a revolutionary, a freedom fighter who always spoke his mind, and was not afraid to seize an opportunity to expose the inequities of Jamaican society. This attitude reached its fiery climax during his performance at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978. At the time, Jamaica was experiencing a political civil war and Kingston was ground zero, where agents of Prime Minister Michael Manley (People's National Party) and Edward Seaga (Jamaican Labor Party) bloodied up the streets. In hopes of resolving this problem plaguing Jamaican society a peace concert was arranged with the biggest acts in reggae music agreeing to perform including Bob Marley. It was at this concert that Peter took the opportunity to lecture the audience, which included the political heads of Jamaica, about the injustices of their totalitarian system they all were living in. Peter’s fiery speech stole the show, never before had such a public figure openly insulted and contested the Jamaican Prime Minister and members of parliament.



While Bob Marley was shaking hands with these leaders and went pop in the process, Peter was an underground militant musical force that gave the people of Jamaica someone to look up at while in the face of adversity. But Peter’s strong militant stance and public criticism of the government would cost him. Four months after Peter's verbal assault on the powers that be in Jamaica, he was beaten to within an inch of death by as many as ten police officers. This attack, however, was just one of many cases of police brutality involving Peter Tosh. These attacks did not stop Tosh, they just made him madder and stronger, forcing him to now speak out against police brutality, bringing the matter to light decades before the riots in Ferguson. His platform to deliver his message tripled after he signed with the fledging record label started by the Rolling Stones. Mystified by Tosh's performance at the One Love Peace Concert, Mick Jagger, signed Peter to a three-album deal that brought him a top ten hit, an appearance on Saturday Night Live and worldwide acclaim. But the relationship with the Stones was short lived and by 1983 a prime Tosh was touring Europe and sporting a guitar shaped like an M-16 rifle. Telling critics, “This guitar is firing shots at all them devil disciples. Music is my weapon to fight against apartheid, nuclear war and those gang-jah criminals.” 



For the next the next four years Tosh was at his musical peak, warning that the world needed to change, foreseeing wickedness, and destruction instead of healing and love. He preached about being careful of your friends, when in the end his friends ended up being the ones to betray him. Tosh’s life was cut short in a hail of bullets on the infamous date of September 11, 1987. His final album No Nuclear War earned him a posthumous Grammy award. For the establishment it was a relatively harmless gift to a dead man. Tosh’s music and reggae in general all but disappeared from American radio stations after the wake of his death but due to his stance on marijuana and his unique musical presence Tosh has become a cult legend among reggae lovers.



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