13 Sep Gunmen Kill Peter Tosh, Reggae Star, in Jamaica
September 13, 1987
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sept. 12 – Peter Tosh, a founding member of the Wailers, a reggae group that helped to popularize the vibrant Jamaican music style internationally, was killed at his home Friday night by gunmen, the police said. Mr. Tosh was 42 years old.
The police said Mr. Tosh and Wilton (Doc) Brown, a maker of health food, died from their wounds en route to a hospital. Five others, including Mr. Tosh’s companion, Andrea Marlene Brown, were wounded.
Radio Jamaica said the attack appeared to have been a robbery attempt.
Three armed men arrived on motorcycles at Mr. Tosh’s home in St. Andrew, a suburb of Kingston, entered the house at about 8:30 P.M. Friday, and shot the seven people present after they refused to give up their money, the radio station said.
A police detective said that Mr. Tosh had just returned from the United States and that the robbers apparently thought he had a large amount of cash with him. The detective added that the assailants had been tentatively identified, but that no arrests had been made.
Prime Minister Edward P. G. Seaga extended his condolences to Mr. Tosh’s family and friends, and former Prime Minister Michael N. Manley extolled the singer as a man who “gave to Jamaica and the world an unforgettable library of musical works which will be played and sung by many generations of people.”
Mr. Tosh founded the Wailers in 1963 with Bob Marley, who died of a brain tumor in 1981. The Wailers’third star was Neville (Bunny) Livingstone. He left the group with Mr. Tosh in 1973 after Mr. Marley increasingly took over the starring role.
More than 100 people gathered today at University Hospital, where the wounded were taken.
The four others who were wounded were identified as Carlton (Santa) Davis, a drummer in Mr. Tosh’s band; Jeff Dixon, a disk jockey for the state-run Jamaica Broadcasting Corp.; Mr. Dixon’s wife, Yvonne, and Michael Robinson, another musician.
Mr. Dixon, who had been shot in the head, was in critical condition, Radio Jamaica said, adding that the others were believed to be in stable condition.
Mr. Tosh was born Winston Hubert McIntosh on Oct. 9, 1944, in Westmoreland, Jamaica.
A baritone, he was perhaps best known internationally for collaborating with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in the Smokey Robinson song “(You Got to Walk and) Don’t Look Back.”
In the lyrics of his songs, he often condemned injustice and poverty and praised the Rastafarians, a Jamaica-based religious sect.
Like other Rastafarians, Mr. Tosh advocated smoking marijuana. He recorded the album and single “Legalize It” in 1976 and often smoked huge marijuana cigarettes, called spliffs, on stage.
In 1978, before a crowd of 30,000 in Kingston, which included Prime Minister Manley, Mr. Tosh smoked a spliff and berated Mr. Manley for 30 minutes for refusing to legalize ganja, as marijuana is known here. Ban on Anti-Police Song
Mr. Tosh had several run-ins with the police and was jailed for possessing marijuana in the mid-1960’s. In early 1975, he wrote the anti-police song “mark of the Beast,” which was banned from Jamaican radio.
In the time Mr. Tosh was with the Wailers, the group had a string of hits including “stir It Up,” “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Get Up, Stand Up.”
Many of the Wailers’songs were highly political, and the group was extremely popular in Jamaica. The Wailers’1973 album “Catch a Fire,” won reggae, with its characteristic loping beat, an international audience.
Mr. Tosh’s first album in four years, “No Nuclear War,” was issued recently. His other albums included “Equal Rights,” 1977; “Bush Doctor,” 1978; “mystic Man,” 1979; “Wanted Dread and Alive,” 1981, and “mama Africa,” 1983.
He was nominated for a Grammy award in 1985 for best reggae recording for “Captured Live.”
The New Rolling Stone Record Guide described Mr. Tosh’s solo albums as “excellent, pure reggae, truer to the spirit and form of the music than Marley’s more celebrated work.”