VIP Peter Tosh

Peter Tosh (October 19, 1944 - September 11, 1987)

The author of the anthem "Legalize It," Peter Tosh was a righteous Reggae musician who formed The Wailers with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer in 1963. A self-taught guitarist and keyboard player, Tosh inspired his fellow bandmembers to also learn to play. He and Bunny also lead Marley into the Rastafarian faith, which regards ganja as a sacrament. The band, which had hit with ska song "Simmer Down," slowed down to a rocksteady beat and became more political, with Tosh writing many of the band's like such as "Get Up, Stand Up."

His 1976 solo debut album was titled, Legalize It (pictured), and he recorded a public service announcement that year for NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) that opened with the strain:

Legalize It
Don't criticize it...

Tosh often amused his audiences by riding a unicycle in concert, and participated in international opposition to South African apartheid. According to Wikipedia, "During Bob Marley's free One Love Peace Concert of 1978, Tosh lit a marijuana spliff and "lectured about legalizing cannabis, lambasting attending dignitaries for their failure to enact such legislation." Several months later he was apprehended by police outside a dance hall in Kingston and was beaten severely while in custody.

In 1979 Tosh appeared in the Rolling Stones video "Waiting on a Friend" and collaborated with Mick Jagger on "Walk and Don't Look Back." By 1984, Tosh took a break from music to commune with traditional medicine men in Africa. In 1987 he was back, winning a Grammy for Best Reggae Performance for No Nuclear War, his last record. In September of that year three robbers entered Tosh's home in Jamaica and shot and killed him. One was a man he had tried to find work for after a long jail sentence.

A monument to Tosh is maintained by his family near Negril and is open to the public. His birthday is celebrated there with a yearly concert. The Peter Tosh Museum was opened on his 72nd birthday in Kingston. Jamaica NORML donated a plaque commemorating him and "Legalize It."

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