Winston Hubert McIntosh a.k.a “Peter Tosh” was born in Jamaica in October 1944. Tosh’s conviction is shown in his music with the straightforward lyrics and fiery stage sermons. He received severe beatings at the hands of the police, but he never retreated.
Ironically, he gained one of his solo successes in Joe Higg’s anthem for vertically challenged rude boys, “Stepping Razor.” It was a Wailing Wailer’s recording, and in one of its first solo, “I’m The Toughest,” Tosh used a customized guitar that looks like an M-16 rifle.
In the early 1970s, after the original Wailers broke up, Tosh signed with Columbia Records and released his best album of career, Legalize It. The pro-ganja title track was banned in Jamaica. However, the song was widely known elsewhere and brought wide attention to Tosh. Before moving to the U.S., Tosh recorded one more album for Columbia, the powerful Equal Rights.
In the U.S., he signed with the Rolling Stones’ custom label. Bush Doctor, released in 1978, featured Tosh’s duet with Mick Jagger on the Temptations’ old Motown song “(You Got To Walk And) Don’t Look Back.” Mystic Man then followed, with it as the last for Rolling Stones Records.
Tosh teamed with EMI America with the release of Wanted Dread & Alive in 1981 and Mama Africa. It was his highest charting album in the U.S. (it included his hit cover of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”), two years later. Lastly, Captured Live (1984) was his last album to demonstrate good potential in the States.
Peter Tosh exhibits his revolutionary attitude in his music. He even used words (“politricks,” “bureaucraps,” “shitstem”) as an attack in his unending struggle. It was this thought-provoking lyrics and aggressive view that made his soulful baritone very influential. Tosh gave a provocative performance at Jamaica’s 1978 One Love Peace Concert. He deliberately aimed the politicians and policemen at the venue.
As a protest to his record company’s distribution agreement with South Africa, Tosh gave up recording for a few years.
On September 11th, 1987, just after the release of No Nuclear War, three gunmen (one of whom he knew) got into his house demanding money. Getting nothing, they fired to at Tosh and two of his friends leading to their death. He died at 42.