Peter Tosh Biography

Peter Tosh, a renowned reggae artist and founding member of the band ‘The Wailers’, was a rebellious hero and a voice for the voiceless. Raised without the love and protection of his parents, Tosh became a self-dependent and resourceful individual. He fought for various causes and used his music to liberate the people of Jamaica both physically and mentally. Despite being hated by some, he was revered by others as a redeemer and a saint. Alongside his successful career with ‘The Wailers’, Tosh also had a promising solo career that was tragically cut short by his death.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Winston Hubert McIntosh, Stepping Razor
  • Died At Age: 42
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Andrea
    • Children: Andrew Tosh
  • Quotes By Peter Tosh
  • Died Young
  • Died on: September 11, 1987
  • Place of Death: Kingston, Jamaica

Childhood & Early Life

Winston Hubert McIntosh was born on October 19, 1944 in Jamaica. His parents were too young to raise him, so he was raised by his aunt in Grange Hill. During his time with his aunt, he became inspired by American radio stations and developed a passion for singing and playing the guitar at a young age. In the early 1960s, he moved to Kingston and started selling sugarcane juice. It was during this time that he befriended Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer. The trio began taking voice lessons from Joe Higgs and formed the band, ‘The Wailers’, in 1962.

Career

‘The Wailers’ started playing covers of American pop hits and slowly gained fame. Tosh was a crucial member of the group as he was the only self-taught keyboardist and guitarist. In the 1970s, more members joined the band and they signed a record deal with Chris Blackwell and Island Records Company. They released their debut album, ‘Catch A Fire’, in 1973 and their second album, ‘Burnin’, in the same year.

However, an incident in 1974 led to Tosh and Bunny Wailer leaving ‘The Wailers’. Chris Blackwell refused to sign Tosh for a solo album, which led to their departure. Tosh released his solo debut album, ‘Legalize It’, in 1976 and followed it with ‘Equal Rights’ the next year. He formed a reggae band called ‘Word, Sound and Power’ in 1976 and toured with them for several years.

Tosh signed a deal with Rolling Stones Records in 1978 and released the album ‘Bush Doctor’. One of the singles from the album, ‘Don’t Look Back’, a collaboration with Mick Jagger, established him as one of the best reggae artists of the time. He continued to release albums, including ‘Mystic Man’ in 1979 and ‘Wanted Dread and Alive’ in 1981.

In 1983, Tosh released the album ‘Mama Africa’ and the following year, he went into voluntary exile in Africa. He returned in 1987 and released his last studio album, ‘No Nuclear War’, which won a prominent award.

Major Works

One of Tosh’s major works is the album ‘Burnin’, released in 1973. It was the fourth studio album released by him with ‘The Wailers’ and featured the track ‘Burnin’, which achieved success on various charts. The album was also recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Awards & Achievements

Tosh’s last album, ‘No Nuclear War’, won the Grammy Award for ‘Best Reggae Album’ in 1987. In 2012, he was posthumously awarded the ‘Order of Merit’, Jamaica’s third highest honor.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1973, Tosh was involved in a car accident that killed his girlfriend and left him with a serious head injury. He had a common-law marriage with Andrea Marlene Brown, but they did not have any children. Tosh had 10 children from previous relationships. He was tragically murdered at his residence in Jamaica by a gang of three men who demanded money. When Tosh couldn’t provide any, they tortured him and eventually shot him. The three men also injured others and killed two DJs.

Trivia

Tosh was known for his love of unicycling and would often ride a unicycle during his shows. He also gave a lecture about legalizing marijuana during Bob Marley’s ‘One Love Peace Concert’ in 1978, which led to his arrest and severe beating in prison.

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