LEGAL LEGACY - Tosh's associate keeps memory alive

By Howard Campbell Observer senior writer

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

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IT was 38 years ago that Peter Tosh began work on Legalize It, the album that would become his career statement. American Lee Jaffe, one of the persons who helped him craft that set, pays tribute to the singer on Saturday with a photo exhibition in Los Angeles.

Also titled Legalize It, it showcases some of the photographs Jaffe took for the album which was released by Columbia Records in 1976. It will be held at the Dem Passwords gallery.

The exhibition is one of two Tosh projects Jaffe is involved. The other is a bio-movie he hopes to make with Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland).

"He (Tosh) hasn't really got his due as yet but I think it's going to come. If it gets made it's going to do a lot for Peter's legacy," Jaffe told the Jamaica Observer from his Los Angeles home.

MacDonald has received strong reviews for Marley, the documentary about reggae legend Bob Marley, which was released in Kingston in February. According to Jaffe, the Scotsman is just as enthusiastic about making a film on Tosh, who, along with Marley, was a member of the Wailers group.

"He badly wants it to be his next film," said Jaffe, who added that he and MacDonald are scheduled to meet with administrators of the Tosh Estate in Los Angeles next week. If the parties are able to agree terms, Jaffe believes production on the movie would start next year.

The Legalize It exhibition opens three days before the 25th anniversary of Tosh's death at age 42. He and radio disc jockey Jeff 'Free I' Dixon were murdered by gunmen at his St Andrew home on September 11, 1987.

Jaffe says he met Marley in New York City in 1973 and moved to Jamaica at the singer's invitation. He was introduced to Marley's inner-circle which included Tosh and Neville 'Bunny Wailer' Livingston, who were members of the Wailers.

After Tosh and Wailer left the group in early 1974, Jaffe played harmonica on Natty Dread, Marley's first solo album for Island Records. That year, he joined Tosh's camp and eventually helped him seal a deal with Columbia which distributed Legalize It and its 1977 follow-up, Equal Rights.

Legalize It was Tosh's personal statement for the legalization of marijuana. Its iconic jacket of him perched in a ganja field in Bluefields, Westmoreland, was taken by Jaffe.

Now in his 60s, Jaffe recently toured Europe with Stephen Marley. His photo book, One Love: Life With Bob Marley and The Wailers, was released in 2003.




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