“Wanted Dread & Alive” – Peter Tosh
Peter Tosh (born Winston Hubert McIntosh, 19 October 1944 – 11 September 1987), was a Jamaican reggae musician who was a core member of the band The Wailers (1963–1974), and who afterwards had a successful solo career as well as being a promoter of Rastafari. He was born in Grange Hill, Jamaica, and was raised by his aunt. He began to sing and learn guitar at an early age, inspired by American radio stations.
The story of the Wailing Wailers is fascinating, and the legend that is Bob Marley would likely not exist if it hadn’t been for the musical talent in Peter Tosh. A self taught guitarist, Tosh inspired the other members of the Wailers to become excellent musicians and pushed them constantly.
In 1973, Tosh was driving home with his girlfriend Evonne when his car was hit by another car driving on the wrong side of the road. The accident killed Evonne and severely fractured Tosh’s skull. He survived, but became more difficult to deal with. After Island Records president Chris Blackwell refused to issue his solo album in 1974, Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the Wailers, citing the unfair treatment they received from Blackwell, to whom Tosh often referred with a derogatory play on Blackwell’s surname, ‘Whiteworst’. Tosh had written many of the Wailers’ hit songs such as “Get Up, Stand Up”, “400 Years”, and “No Sympathy”.
Tosh also participated in the international opposition to South African apartheid by appearing at Anti-Apartheid concerts and by conveying his opinion in various songs like “Apartheid” (1977, re-recorded 1987), “Equal Rights” (1977), “Fight On” (1979), and “Not Gonna Give It Up” (1983). In 1987, Peter Tosh seemed to be having a career revival and was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Performance in 1987 for No Nuclear War, his last record. In August 2012 it was announced that Tosh would be posthumously awarded Jamaica’s fourth highest honour, the Order of Merit, in October that year.
Often less appreciated than his more successful counterparts, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh carries an important role in Reggae. He’s the more militant voice for peace, and is a necessary yin to Marley’s yang of love.
“Wanted Dread & Alive” is a great song, and my most recent foray into the great music of Peter Tosh. Enjoy!