So several months ago I contact Doug Wendt AKA ‘Midnight Dread’ to ask him if it was OK if I share his rare interview with Peter Tosh. We ended up speaking for over an hour and just hit it off immediately. He wasn’t so keen on it at the time because there was really no occasion for it, however he did agree to share from his archives to the Midnight Raver Blog, and a friendship grounded in reggae was formed.
Doug has so much to offer us – the second generation of reggae enthusiasts, collectors, and archivists. He was there when Catch A Fire was released, in fact, he attended The Wailers’ historic shows at The Matrix in San Francisco, CA. He held it down in the Bay area by launching a popular reggae radio show which first exposed this great music to the people. It is people like Doug, Roger, and Night Nurse that I first came to learn of this music.
I owe so much to Doug for being one of the first to bring this music to the U.S. I am lucky to have him as a friend.
And now, the Midnight Dread interview with the late, great Peter Tosh…
Strange days, stranger nights. Something wicked this way comes. Summer turns. Life blinks. Dread On Arrival.
September 11th 2012 dawned with terror in the air, 25 years to the day Peter Tosh was gunned down by hideous cowards. Last night I re-watched the 1992 film on his life PETER TOSH STEPPING RAZOR: RED X. It’s spellbinding from the start. Its cinematic magic weaves Peter’s life and music into the spirit world he was so naturally attuned to. It’s a chilling experience filled with foreboding and reactionary violence as it unreels towards its bitter denouement. In many ways RED X is an anxiety driven roller coaster ride alternating its positive meaning and upliftment alongside hints of what everyone knows is coming.
As RED X begins to reach its final sequences and the lights fade out on Mick Jagger and Peter in a duet on Saturday Night Live doing “Don’t Look Back”, about the only movement revealing Tosh’s sparkly side, suddenly the soundtrack changes to an especially strident segment from my 1983 interview with Peter. That interview soon returns for a longer take shortly after Maureen Tosh and others begin talking more openly about duppys, forty-nine of which Peter allegedly expelled from his home when he moved in.
I can tell you a thing about duppys. It really shook me the first time I saw my interview’s placement in RED X. First, I had no idea it was even in the picture until I heard my voice. Also, it appears just as the film’s becoming much more ominous. My interview with Peter has always given me the willies ever since its audio disappeared from my original and only recording until after his death. (More of that story introduces the interview Midnight Raver links to below.) I would not have withheld Peter’s memorable quotes from 1983 until September 1987 otherwise. None of it was ever broadcast on any of my Midnight Dread radio programs or in print in that time period. So it gwan. Peter also taped most of our talk. That’s how it made the movie. In the film my interview fades out and its source is never credited. Read all the rest of that interview here now.
PETER TOSH STEPPING RAZOR: RED X speculates Peter may have been killed along with ace Jamaican radio DJ Free I Dixon over their plans to begin broadcasting a “Rastaman Radio Station” in Jamaica. Though that rumor seems at odds with some facts it reminded me of a chapter on the power of “Reggae and Radio” I wrote for Stephen Davis and Peter Simon’s REGGAE INTERNATIONAL book that was cut from it before publication. The recent revelation that it was an FBI informant that gave guns to the Black Panthers in the sixties illustrates sabotage is always possible. Powerful forces rule the undertow.
Nowadays my Midnight Dread radio program is on nightly (every midnight Pacific Time) with new shows including my 2012 Tribute To Peter Tosh special. For more from ‘the garden of inspiration’ listen at 88.1 and 97.7FMs in the San Francisco Bay Area and thru the TuneIn phone app and other audio portals including http://www.worldOneradio.org and http://www.shoutcast.com (search WorldOne). Midnight Dread also often appears midday at noon (Pacific Time) in my daily Best of All Worlds slot along with Ghost Town Sound and Deep Sixties shows.
Here are sound samples in Peter’s words from the interview/show as aired on Midnight Dread’s radio special the week Tosh was killed:
-Doug Wendt, September 11th, 2012
PETER TOSH INTERVIEW
8/17/83 Nob Hill, San Francisco
(Copyright 1983 Doug Wendt/2002 & 2012 midnightdread.com. No reproduction, distribution or excerpts without written permission)
(guitar playing sounds)
DW- I’ve been doing Midnight Dread on commercial radio for several years.
PT- That is very good, because it is very difficult to find people who really contribute so much energy towards helping to make reggae acceptable in this stiffneck society & I really appreciate what you’ve been doing very much.
DW- To have a format that includes reggae is not gonna put you in the biggest shape commercially.
PT- Serious thing.
DW- You’ve been involved with several labels in America; Columbia, Rolling Stone, EMI & I must tell you in ten years of playing strictly reggae music on commercial radio I have never received one promotional copy of any of your records. That means they’re not taking care of business, they’re not dealing with even commercial radio.
PT- & when you tell me that it is very good to hear that from you cause I have to keep these things under file because when I am going to report to the president of the company & let them know that if my album don’t sell millions because I know it has the potential to sell millions & there is too much hypocrisy going on in this society & too much white promotion of white music & demotion of black music & then too much ripping off of black music by white musician to make their career elevate to levels & then at the same time belittling the integrity of black music; I can’t take them shit there no more, & I will not have the integrity of my music being belittled willfully by beauracrats who sit down & plan & arrange these things to see to it that people like all me don’t hold a million dollar but at the same time they will give you a couple play that when the people out there hear about you they think of you as a millionaire not knowing that you don’t have nowhere near a millionaire, seen, but they want to promote you as a millionaire out there & they know that they are demoting you behind there, seens & set you up that you will never be a millionaire. Is not to say that I want to be a millionaire because I was born a millionaire, my potential make me more than zillions of years, seen, so I don’t count millions of papers because paper will come & paper will go but my ability & my integrity is here forever, seen. So I am more than a zillionaire. But at the same time what is due to Caesar give it unto Caesar. Is long Bumba Clot time they’ve been robbin Peter to pay Paul & I’ve been seeing too much of that & at the same time want me to keep on working, working, working, bumba-blood clot working for all the days of my fuckin’ life & when you done working you end up paying your fuckin’ old age pension to the doctor. I am not into that bumba clot cause I am not here to subordinate, neither am I here to live up to no man’s expectation, I know the potential of my music & my music must be played & respected the way any other white bullshit is respected where I don’t hear it is culturally or morally uplifting to the people. And if the society is not dealing with moral upliftment just let me know & just let me back out because I will go to Africa, & to the Far Easts and to Japan & China where people are more culturally & morally awakened, seen, & people who are much more uplifted to life & the dignity & integrity of what life is. I can’t take this deplorability that people adore & enjoy themselves in. People bathing in shit here & take it for enjoyment. I can’t take that. You see lie is the moat & hypocrisy the order of the day. When I play for the people, everytime I play for my audience they are hypnotized, seen. These guys know the potential of the music. They don’t want to break reggae music because reggae music is the King’s music & reggae music is Rasta music & Rastaman opposes the whole shitstem within the society. So they don’t want to know that they can break the rastaman, they will break rasta lookin people, seen?
DW- Eddy Grant.
PT- All those kind of looking people. They put on lickle dreadlocks & them break them because them know that they have had them in their hands seen, & they can spin them around & tell them what to do. Them can’t tell me what to do because I don’t get my inspiration from the drug store, seen. I get my inspiration from Jah & it must be materialized, seen. & they are not going to keep me here & use & abuse & try to defile my qualities. & then they try to eliminate & then they make movie of me, & bloodclot write books of me. No, that won’t work. I will be here to benefit all that is mine & all Paul who has been getting Peter’s pay better prepare to pay back bloodclot Peter because my judgement won’t be like any little joke business my brother. When me pray it is a dangerous thing. (strums guitar). You see because I believe in prayer. And if a guy out there think him wicked & him gun is in God, seen, & other weapons of destruction is in God, it won’t help him because what is due unto Ceaser I giveth unto Ceaser. (strums guitar)
DW- You may not be aware of, but here in Northern California there are 30 strictly reggae shows weekly. I’ve been listening to most of those shows because I deal in promotion for several reggae shows so I’m monitoring them to see what they’re playing. & they are not playing MAMA AFRICA (Tosh’s new lp at the time that had been out for 3 months) because they don’t have the record.
PT- (long pregnant pause) Can you imagine a bumba clot thing like that?
DW- They don’t deal on this ‘low level’ way of promotion. They deal in the block buster, take out ads in Playboy, spend 20,000 dollars there, $50,000 -that’s what they did with Bob Marley, who was never really promoted in this country except once with RASTAMAN VIBRATION. (which went Top Ten in Billboard)