It was September 11, 34 years ago that Reggae legend Peter Tosh’s life was taken away but his music has lived on forever. His musical influence can be heard across the world as many artists embrace his message, his flow, his style and unapologetic demeanor.
The men convicted of killing Tosh were Jeff ‘Free I’ Dixon, Wilton Brown and Dennis ‘Leppo’ Lobban, his alleged former friends.
Peter Tosh was also a friend of Jimmy Riley, according to Tarrus Riley.
“Peter Tosh is a close friend of my father before me born. His music and life means one thing to me and it’s that there are some special people that visit the earth and cannot be replaced”, Riley reflected.
“You cannot really speak of Reggae music and not speak of his contribution. Words limit the way to celebrate him,” he told DancehallMag.
The Powerful artist shared two photos of Tosh yesterday, with the caption, “We Remember The gr8 Peter Tosh for Eva, his music and message…Unforgettable 100 Sept. 11…smh..only Jah knws #steppinRazor #BushDoctor #MystciMan #OnthisDaytheGr8PeterToshTrodontoZion”
Another artist, who took to Instagram to pay tribute to the icon was Gramps Morgan who posted on Twitter, “Peter Tosh we shall never forget REGGAE LEGEND”.
Tosh is perhaps best vindicated with the decriminalization of Marijuana, a fight he took on through his music, most memorably with Legalize it.
Legalize It was a popular sentiment among the Rastafarian community in the 1970s and Tosh made it into a Platinum-selling debut album and song, after leaving the Wailers. It was recorded in 1976 and released in Jamaica in the same year.
The album spent two weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart and peaked at 199.
Legalize It was one of the two solo albums released in 1976 by Wailers members. Bunny Wailer also released a solo album that same year, while Bob Marley and his new Wailers released Rastaman Vibration.
Legalize It was banned when released in Jamaica in 1975 but those attempts to suppress the song cause Tosh to gain international fame. The song was written as a direct verbal rebellion against the ongoing victimization of the Rasta Man and other people who smoked marijauna, by the Jamaican police. As a political piece , it pushed for the legalization of cannabis, particularly for religious and medical use.
In 1977, Tosh proclaimed “We are the victims of Rassclaat circumstances. Victimization, colonialism, gonna lead to bloodbath”. Tosh also said “Herb will become like cigarettes”, in an NME interview in 1978.
“Herb will become like cigarettes.” – Peter Tosh, 1978
Peter’s prediction holds true. Jamaica has seen #cannabis become decriminalized this decade, along with Ghana + countless states in the US. We must continue to fight or worldwide legalization! #LegalizeIt #PeterTosh420
— Peter Tosh (@PeterTosh) April 21, 2020
In 2015, Legislators in Jamaica passed an amendment that made way for the decriminalization of Marijuana for personal use up to 56.6 grams, joining the movement in several territories across the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. Although smoking weed in public is still illegal and attracts a small fine, Jamaica is the first country to explicitly legalize weed for religious purposes.