Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Happy Birthday, Peter Tosh

Published:Tuesday | October 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Andrew Tosh
Peter Tosh
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Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the birth of reggae star Peter Tosh and, like previous years, the landmark will likely pass without fanfare.

However, the University of the West Indies will play host to a symposium called 'Peter Tosh - The Man, the Music and the Message: Celebrating the Life and the Legacy of a True Musical Icon' at the undercroft.

The featured panelists will be Copeland Forbes, former manager for Peter Tosh, Dr Clinton Hutton, musicologist, painter, and lecturer in the Department of Government, and Ras Miguel Lorne, musicologist, attorney at law, and president of the Marcus Garvey People's Political Party. There will also be a special exclusive preview of a forthcoming documentary on Peter Tosh, titled Peter Up Pan Top, directed by Kereen Karim.

In the meantime, Andrew, the singer's son, is preparing to promote his father's music with a new tribute album and tour scheduled to start in November.

Legacy: An Acoustic Tribute To Peter Tosh, was released on iTunes in late September. Andrew Tosh covered 10 of the fiery singer's songs with accompaniment on acoustic guitar from Mikey Chung, who played in his old man's Word, Sound and Power band, Winston 'Bo Pee' Bowen, Daniel 'Danny Axeman' Thompson and Ranoy Gordon.

"What we tried to do is bring an ear to some songs that people don't know, but to me are Peter Tosh classics," Tosh, 47, explained.

That's What They Will Do and Soon Come are among the obscure songs on Legacy. Most, such as Why Must I Cry, Creation and African, are known to fans of Tosh, a founding member of the legendary Wailers band who was murdered by gunmen at his St Andrew home in September 1987.

Legacy is Andrew Tosh's first studio set since another tribute album, 2004's Andrew Sings Tosh. He teams with his uncle and founding Wailer Bunny Wailer on I Am That I Am and with Ky-Mani Marley, son of Bob Marley, on Lessons In My Life.

There has been no shortage of Peter Tosh albums in the last 10 years, including the reissue of his groundbreaking Legalise It and Equal Rights albums by Sony Music in 1999.

The following year, Peter Tosh Live At The One Love Peace Concert was released by JAD Records, which also put out the acoustic I Am That I Am in 2001.

The most ambitious project was Honorary Citizen, a three-CD set released by Sony in 1997.

Tosh says there is a distinct difference between Legacy and those projects.

"They were done by record companies, on this album I selected songs from my father that are special to me," he said.

No easy feat

Following in the footsteps of a man who was arguably reggae's most controversial artiste, is no easy feat. Peter Tosh, along with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston (Bunny Wailer), were driving forces behind the Wailers for most of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Tosh was the most controversial of the trio. He ruffled many a feather with his unapologetic stance on issues including black liberation and the legalisation of marijuana.

Legalise It, Equal Rights, Wanted Dread and Alive and Mama Africa contain some of Tosh's most potent work. His No Nuclear War album, released in the year of his death, won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.

Andrew Tosh last saw his father alive two weeks before his death. He said he got news of the horrific shooting while he was at a dance in Kingston.

His debut album, Original Man, was released in 1987.

To support Legacy, Tosh will be heading to China, Japan and Africa for shows. He plans to release Eye To Eye, an album of original songs, in early 2011.