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Stabroek News

M-16 guitar came in hot
published: Friday | November 24, 2006

Tosh - Contributed

Reggae historian and Peter Tosh's former manager, Copeland Forbes, has joined in efforts to prevent the auction of Tosh's one-of-a-kind M-16 Stratocaster guitar, slated to be up for grabs by the highest bidder on eBay.

I read an article in The Gleaner dated November 16, 2006, that Peter Tosh's famous M16 guitar will be put on auction. This I can't believe.

It was I who bought that guitar from a fan who custom-made it specially for Peter and brought it to the Franklyn Plaza Suite Hotel in Los Angeles, where Peter and his group, Word Sound and Power, were staying on our stop in Los Angeles when Tosh played the famous Greek Theatre during the Mama Africa World Tour of 1983.

During our stay at the hotel a young reggae fan came to the hotel and asked to see Peter Tosh. The front desk clerk then called me in my room, as I was then Tosh's manager, saying that a fan wanted to see Peter. I then spoke to the fan on the hotel's phone and he told me that he had a special gift for Peter which he personally made for the Bush Doctor.

I then came downstairs to the lobby and met this fan, who was so overwhelmed to be speaking to the manager of Peter Tosh. In his hand he clutched this guitar, which was in the shape of an M-16 rifle. He told me that because Peter was a freedom fighter and that Peter's music was the weapon to free Africans and trample down apartheid, he personally built this guitar for him.

He figured that Peter's music was the weapon to do the job. The song Coming In Hot (firing "musical shot, shot, shot") was the song he liked and he thought that since Peter can't use a real gun to fight, hence the guitar in the shape of an M16 rifle would send the message musically.

Peter's expression

I was so taken aback with this fan's expression and thoughts that I decided to take him and his gift up to Peter's room, as I knew that Peter would be very excited to see such an instrument. The moment I walked into Peter's room and he saw the instrument his expression to me was 'wait, a whey yu get that from'? I immediately introduced the young fan and told him that this fan had the most interesting statement to make. Instantly, the young fan handed him the guitar and told him the reason he made it and what he thought of Peter's music.

Peter immediately called his guitarist Donald Kinsey to come to his room to witness his new musical weapon. Kinsey came and the minute he walked into Peter's room, he saw Peter pointing an instrument in the shape of an M16 rifle at him and Peter said to Kinsey 'Donald, a now I a go kill dem pirates deh'. Kinsey was so shocked at the sight of this guitar he took it from Peter and started playing it.

Kinsey's remark was that it's a great piece of work and craft, and proceeded to make a few adjustments on the fret board and the strings.

No guitar case

The fact that the shape of the guitar was so unique and there was no guitar case that this guitar could fit in, Peter told me to go to SIR Instrument Shop and order a custom-built case to be made immediately for his new musical weapon. I offered to pay the guy for the guitar but the fan refused to take any money for it. All he said he wanted was an autograph from the Bush Doctor so he could go back to his hometown and show his friends that he met the great Peter Tosh. I insisted that he take the money but he kept on refusing the financial offer. I literally had to push the money into his pocket and held on to his hands as he tried to push his hand in his pocket to give me back the money.

After a little fun struggle with the fan, with me holding on to both his hands preventing him from retrieving the money from his pocket, the elated fan finally gave up and accepted the money by leaving it in his pocket.

Read part two in your Sunday Gleaner.

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