Young Tosh reflects on father's work
TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Andrew Tosh got the assignment every relative dreads. He was summoned to the morgue to identify his father, reggae star Peter Tosh.
The singer had been shot and killed on September 11 at his St Andrew home. It was a morbid moment his son says he will never forget.
"It was super-emotional," Tosh, 45, told the Jamaica Observer this week.
On Monday, the singer recalls his father's legacy as headliner for the 25th Memorial Salute show at Bourbon Beach in Negril, Westmoreland, the parish where Peter Tosh was born in 1944.
On September 11, as the United States commemorates the anniversary of terrorist attacks that killed thousands at the World Trade Center in New York City, Andrew Tosh, his family and admirers, will remember a man who was, arguably, reggae's most controversial figure.
"I'm 150 per cent in gear to keep his legacy alive. Peter was no ordinary man, he was a writer with a lot of depth," said Tosh.
A founding member of the Wailers group along with Bob Marley and Neville 'Bunny Wailer' Livingston, Peter Tosh won thousands of admirers for his outspoken stance on issues like legalisation of marijuana and black majority rule in Africa.
His views helped drive the Legalize It and Equal Rights albums, regarded among the great statement pieces in pop music. Tosh, radio disc jockey/music producer Jeff 'Free I' Dixon, and friend Doc Brown were murdered by gunmen on the evening of September 11, 1987.
Other persons in the singer's inner circle, including his girlfriend Marlene Brown and drummer Carlton 'Santa' Davis, were injured in the incident. It is a night Andrew Tosh remembers vividly.
"I was at a dance on Hagley Park Road (in St Andrew) when I heard about it. It was a shock," he recalled.
Andrew Tosh says he had last seen his father one month earlier.
Though he gained a reputation for knocking the system, Tosh's music has endured, largely through re-issue of his albums. Last year, Legacy Recordings released deluxe editions of Legalize It and Equal Rights which were originally distributed in the 1970s by its parent company, Columbia Records.
A Tosh movie, driven by his friend Lee Jaffe and Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald, is in the pipeline. In Jamaica, where Tosh had several clashes with authorities, he will be honoured with the Order of Merit.
Andrew Tosh believes the OM is a sign his father is finally been accepted in his homeland.
"For the Government to identify him with the OM, shows he's getting there when it comes to respect," he said.
The younger Tosh is also a singer/songwriter who has recorded seven albums which include two cover tributes to his father's work. His latest, What a Gwaan, is scheduled to be released in October.