Bob Marley and Peter Tosh: Did skin tone play a role in their success?

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18 Karat Reggae Gold 2021 : ONENESS
18 Karat Reggae Gold 2021 : ONENESS
Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh
Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh

The following does not necessarily reflects the views of 18 Karat Reggae. It was contributed by a visitor to the 18 Karat Reggae website.

Of course skin tone plays a role in marketability, but Bob Marley was also more willing to “play the game” by going along with Blackwell’s vision for the group (Black rock band), even though he had his own vision for his music. Bunny never wanted to tour and Peter Tosh was incredibly moody and unstable at times.

Bob Marley was willing to do whatever it took to get the music/message out before he died. His work ethic was strong and focused, though he was far from perfect as a person. Based on my knowledge of Tosh, he likely would’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness if he’d been living today. All the paranoia & hallucinations of ghosts, dude was disturbed. Talented, but disturbed. I’m sure the police beatings didn’t help.

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While Bob Marley’s voice is not exactly Stevie Wonder, his songwriting abilities were absolutely outstanding. That’s why his music has aged so well, it’s evergreen, unlike some of Tosh’s work which can seem dated. But it’s hard to predict where they’d be today had they not died so tragically young. Perhaps both would be sell-outs, assholes or just irrelevant. And you can’t overlook the fact that their untimely deaths worked wonders for their careers. Neither was as popular while living as they have been posthumously. We tend to lionize the dead and whitewash their faults while not appreciating people while they’re here.

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That said, there’s definitely colorism in the entertainment industry. Any fool can see that. Bob was aware of this and used it to his advantage to get his message of unity through Rastafari out to the world. But he also suffered bullying and ridicule by his Black peers growing up simply because he was biracial, which is a form of colorism as well. Nobody chooses their race. The problem lies within the industry and society itself.



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