PETER TOSH INTERVIEW, LOS ANGELES, 1983
by Eric Olsen
August, 1983: Peter Tosh was the most popular reggae singer in the world (Bob Marley was dead). His credentials were myriad and impeccable. He was a founding member of the Wailers with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer in 1964, in the Trenchtown slum of Kingston, Jamaica. He taught Bob Marley to play guitar. He left the Wailers in 1975 to pursue a successful solo career which was peaking with the Mama Africa Tour of 82-84, which played every continent of the world except Antarctica.
I met with Tosh the day after a magnificent performance at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles with his crack band Word, Sound and Power, featuring American guitarist Donald Kinsey (of the Chicago blues-funk band, The Kinsey Report), and a rock-solid rhythm section of Santa Davis (drums) and Fully Fullwood (bass).
As I approached Tosh’s Hollywood hotel room, incense billowed out from under the door. As the photographer and I entered the room, several members of Tosh’s entourage lolled about, Jamaican-style. Tosh was renowned for giving writers – especially white writers – a hard time.
Tosh stretched to his full 6′ 3″ height and shook his Medusa tangle of dreads, then composed himself into an alarmingly compact coil on the couch. I was seated across from Tosh, sensing that all of this was aimed at maximum intimidation. Tosh wore a preternaturally white t-shirt and sweats. He corralled his dreads under a Jamaican-style cap, put on his shades, lit five more sticks of incense and signaled his willingness to be addressed.
Why did you choose to record a reggae version of “Johnny B. Goode”?
“For commercial acceptance. My guitar player proposed it, we all arranged it. ‘Commercial’ is something for sale. I want my music to sell, mon. I want my music to reach the 500 millions.”
What is your place in music?
“At the highest. I live my music, seen? I am a man of profound righteousness. I am in the highest position of life, so my music is also of highest position. Yah mon!”
Are you religious?
“Religion is misturned philosophy. I am that I am. I do not tell lie. How many you know not tell lie, mon?”
Who is responsible for your music?
“Jah flows through me. We are responsible. I live music. It rises spontaneously from me. Compositions appear, mon. In the beginning there was the word. The word was Jah. The word is in I, Jah is in I. I make what is good, better, and what is better, best. I follow this in every aspect of life.”
MAMA AFRICA DEMO TAPES
Mama Africa Demos Azimuth Upgrade
MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG contributor Dubwise Garage shares his unique copy of the Mama Africa Demo Tapes.
These are Demo versions of the great Mama Africa LP. They are not as polished as the official versions and contain
“Rock With Me,” which was replaced on the Official Release with “Stop That Train.”
From Dubwise Garage:
“I got this tape from Wailers expert/collector Roger Steffens in the late 80′s. I digitized it a few years back, but this is the Azimuth Tape Head Adjustment and is much cleaner, crisper sounding. Not perfect, if you want perfect go buy the official release which you should already own. Another Classic From The Dubwise Garage Collection.”
Recording source: Studio Demos
Transfer source: my cassette (Azimuth adjustment) to PC from Sony D3 through SB X-Fi Audio 2400 sound card
(RIGHT-CLICK AND SAVE TO YOUR PC)