KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Twenty-five years after his murder, Jamaica's government on Monday honored the contributions of firebrand reggae musician and songwriter Peter Tosh, one of the Caribbean island's musical giants.
Tosh's daughter Niambe, an educator from Boston, Massachusetts, received the posthumous "order of merit" – the country's third highest honor – on behalf of her late father during an annual national awards ceremony on the lawns of King's House, the residence of Jamaica's governor general.
Tosh was a founding member of the Wailers, forming the three-man core of the group with Bob Marley and Bunny "Wailer" Livingston. Hard-hitting solo albums like "Equal Rights" and his work with the Wailers helped make homegrown reggae music known internationally. He was cut down at age 42 in 1987, murdered by robbers in his Jamaican home.
The always outspoken, defiant Tosh was known for forcefully denouncing apartheid, government corruption and calling for the legalization of marijuana. Musical colleagues and fans say the lanky, baritone singer and guitarist was a mesmerizing performer with a charismatic, larger-than-life personality.
Tosh is perhaps reggae's most controversial figure. During the government-organized One Love Peace Concert of 1978, Tosh publicly accused Jamaica's political leaders and the middle class of backing police brutality and politically charged gang warfare amid a legendary 20-minute diatribe. The Jamaican media severely criticized Tosh for the speech, delivered to an audience that included 200 foreign journalists and the prime minister.
For his uncompromising views and his insistence on openly smoking marijuana, the Rastafarian musician was severely beaten by police on several occasions, sustaining 32 stitches in his head, a broken rib, a fractured arm, and a punctured spleen during these altercations, according to former manager Herbie Miller.
For Miller, who is also curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, the honor for the former Wailer was a long time coming. He lobbied Jamaican administrations for years to formally recognize Tosh's accomplishments.
"When you are about truth and rights and bucking the system, government recognition comes after a long wait," Miller said Monday.
Roger Steffens, a noted reggae historian who interviewed Tosh on several occasions, said the musician believed that awards from "Babylon" – the Rastafarian religion's unflattering term for the Western world and the inadequate realities of life – were meaningless to him during his lifetime.
Like Marley, Tosh "believed that 'Babylon have no fruits' and awards from the oppressors were meaningless. Whether the past 25 years would have mellowed (him), or made him even more unyieldingly militant, is difficult to predict," said Steffens, who described Tosh as the "Malcom X of reggae."
But for his family, the Monday ceremony was a big deal. Andrew Tosh, a veteran reggae musician who was 20 when his father was killed, said the award will help keep his musical and cultural legacy alive.
"I'm feeling really good that he's finally getting honored," said the younger Tosh.
With the Wailers, Tosh co-wrote the black power anthem "Get Up, Stand Up" and penned songs like "400 Years," a scathing song about slavery. After he left the group in 1973, just as the Wailers' album "Catch a Fire" was winning reggae a global audience, Tosh formed his own band – Word, Sound and Power – and wrote more songs filled with political content. "Mama Africa" denounced apartheid in South Africa; "Legalize It" called for the legalization of marijuana.
Receiving lesser government awards on Monday were reggae luminaries Toots Hibbert, Lee "Scratch Perry, and Tosh's former Wailers bandmate Bunny Livingstone.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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