We came to know Peter Tosh as the famed Musician, Singer and most significantly an original Wailer. Yes, Peter Tosh was the founding member of the band the Wailers, which gave reggae giant Bob Marley his start.
The Wailers and Rita Marley
Briefly, Tosh was born “Winston Hubert McIntosh” on October 19, 1944 in Westmoreland, Jamaica to parents who were reportedly too young to raise him; Tosh was raised by his aunt in Grange Hill. It wasn’t long before he recognize his musical aptitude, he stated fixated on American & Local Radio!
Tosh moved from the countryside to the Trench Town, Kingston in the early 1960s and began selling sugarcane juice from a cart. In was then that he met Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer; armed with similar love for the musical arts they began visiting voice teacher Joe Higgs for further development – The Wailers emerged in 1962.
The success of the Wailers goes without saying; from then until now, The Wailers band has sold more than 250 million albums worldwide and, in England alone, released more than 20 chart hits, including seven Top 10 entries.
Peter Tosh, left the group in 1973 and proceeded to produce his own music. Solo debut, Legalize It, in 1976 with CBS Records company. The following year he released the album Equal Rights. Both albums were a testament to Tosh’s belief in the Rastafari religion, to which he had converted in years prior, and his endorsement of marijuana legalization. It’s fair to say Tosh was one of the first influential voices to declare the criminalization of marijuana a political stunt and urged the powers he called “Babylon” to Legalize it!
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones were so enamoured by Tosh’s solo work that they signed him to their own label in 1978. Both appeared on his Bush Doctor album; Jagger performed a duet with Tosh on the Temptations’ hit “(You’ve Got to Walk and) Don’t Look Back.”
Tosh continued to enjoy tremendous success traveling the world but visited family and friends in Jamaica often . He was killed there on September 11, 1987, at the age of 42.
According to the Associated Press, at around 8:30 p.m. that day, three armed men on motorcycles arrived at Tosh’s home in the Kingston suburb of St. Andrew, entered the house and attempted to rob its occupants, Tosh and six others, including his common-law wife Andrea Brown and health-food maker Wilton “Doc” Brown; The gunmen shot all seven after they refused to give up their money.
His death was rather untimely – Reggae fans and artists around the world mourned Tosh’s untimely death but continued to celebrated his legacy. He is still known as the most controversial member of The Wailers, according to The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, which wrote that “he ruffled many a feather with his unapologetic stance on issues [such as] black liberation and the legalization of marijuana.”
Peter Tosh Oct.19.1944 ~ Sep.11.1987