[Entertainment]:::'Stepping Razor' remembered ...Part 1 of 2

No. 63 Monday, March 8, 2010
Many persons see him as a rebel, the self titled "Stepping Razor", others know him simply as Peter Tosh. A man whose music has contributed to awakening the social conscience of his generation and a defiant figure fighting for the rights of men.

    On October ninth, 1944 Winston Hubert McIntosh was born into this world. The only child of Alvera Coke, a resident of Church Lincoln in the parish of Westmoreland. Winston's father, James McIntosh was the preacher at a local church in Savanna-la-Mar, which Alvera attended. 

   However, Winston was just one of the many children which James McIntosh fathered and neglected to help care for. He played no role in Winston's life, refusing even to acknowledge that he was the father. In fact, Winston did not even meet his father until he was 10 years of age. Neither his father nor his mother had the responsibility to care for Winston. Instead, Winston was raised by his aunt, in Savanna-la-Mar,
    Peter's personality would have you believe that he raised himself. An extremely self-reliant, self-dependent entity, Tosh fought for those who could not fight for themselves. He was a voice for those who had not the means, nor the ability to speak to a worldwide audience.
    A champion of human rights, throughout his life, Peter fought against the 'vampires' and the 'duppies' and all evil spirits, the spirits which Peter himself feared more than anything. Peter Tosh was a saint. Not a saint in the conventional, religious definition, but insofar as that he was put on this earth with a purpose. He was to expose the filth and corruption and expunge the wickedness of the 'ghosts', which haunted him his entire life. Peter was a savior, sent to liberate the people of Jamaica, both physically and mentally.
    His musical sojourn started after he received six months worth of piano lessons when he was in fifth grade. Nevertheless, this would not stop him from becoming one of the most adept, prodigious musicians in the entire the country.
    In 1956, after living in Savanna-la-Mar for a period of time, Winston and his aunt moved to Denham Town in Kingston. When Winston was fifteen-years-old his aunt died, and he moved in with an uncle on West Road in Trench Town.

   Trench Town, at that time, was an area composed of housing projects which provided inadequate, yet much needed shelter for the indigent people of the city. Trench Town was the place where Winston would first meet Robert Nesta Marley and Neville O'Reilly Livingston, who would later be known as Bunny Wailer. It was here that Winston Hubert McIntosh decided to change his name as well, and became Peter Tosh. Together, these three individuals, known as the Wailing' Wailers, would change the face of music in Jamaica, and throughout the world.
   Tosh's career under Joe Higgs' tutelage sky rocketed; the newly formed Wailers band passed their audition fa Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, who was the owner and producer of a local record company named Studio One. The day after the audition the Wailers were once again at Studio One, this time cutting their first release, "Simmer Down". The song was an immediate number one hit on the local music charts and the group went forward from there. The Wailers immediately became the most successful group in Jamaica, yet all the while unbeknownst to them; they were being mistreated and betrayed by their producer.
    Through all this adversity, the Wailers survived, as they bounced around from one producer to another. Around 1970 the Wailers decided to leave Studio One, and signed on to work with perhaps the most famous Jamaican producer of all, Lee 'Scratch' Perry. This deal proved no better for the Wailers, though, as they released three albums in the United Kingdom under the Trojan label, none of which they received payment for.
     Undaunted, Peter and the Wailers trod on until 1972 when they were introduced to the producer who would change their lives forever. Chris Blackwell was the producer of the up and coming Island Records label, and the Wailers were going to be his ticket to stardom. The deal seemed great for everyone involved. The Wailers were finally going to get the exposure and acclaim which they had toiled so long to attain, and Blackwell was going to take them there.
    The group's first collaboration, 'Catch A Fire', served as an introduction for many people to reggae music. This album contains many classic reggae tunes, including 400 years and Stop That Train, both of which featured Peter Tosh on lead vocals.
    These songs introduced people to the militant, outspoken, candid approach of Peter Tosh, qualities which would remain with him to his grave. These characteristics elevated Peter from his peers. Unlike most musicians in Jamaica, Peter always let his feelings be known. He cared more about principals and morals, than popularity and fame.
     In 1974, the trinity of the Wailers, Peter, Bunny, and Bob was no more. The group broke up after much success.
... Part two will be published next Monday

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