Peter Tosh Interviews And Speeches
Herb - by Peter Tosh
A man is not too big in society if herb is degradation of society,
because accordin' to de law of herb, only de small man get deprive,
or go to prison, or bein' brutalize by police for Herb. Only de
Me come to de conclusion that de whole earth - well, let's say 99
percent of de earth - have some form affiliation wit' de herb, because
dem call it ganja, an don't know ganja is a t'ing dat grow. Ganga is a
bird in Australia, or ganja is a place in Russia, an' ganja is whole
lotta different t'ing, but nothin' pertainin' to what him callin' it,
legal t'ing. And the poor man who don' know him constitutional right,
just get fucked.
Well, we like herb for free, man. Because it is fuckin' up de whole
earth, an' is not fuckin' up de whole earth. fuckin' up de small man,
cause only de small man at all time go to blood-clot jeal for herb,
an' de beeg man just pass in him limousine. An' if he can have on
him certain identification that society see man, o-so-well-it's-
mister-Brown don'-touch-it/blood-clot-let-him-go-on. An' oh, Yes
man! just right! Me smoke herb! Me smoke herb, me pass my herb,
me goin' free. You bigger, you smoke herb an'you pass it, an' you goin'
free. But because you bigger an' you drive a bigger car dan me, an'
you live up a Beverly Hill an'dem bum-clot, then you mus' come, you
dominate de whole earth. An now dem jine dat ras-clot Christopher
Columbus, ras-clot, Pirate Morgan, Francis Drake. All dem same,
dem fuckers. Dem kinda work used to work, man, legal laws, dem sit
around an' drink dem blood-clot whiskey and say, "Haw, haw, haw,
Let us make a law," callin em fucker an' t'ing, yes mon. Ya man,
an' is just de small man feel it at all times. An' de small man, is
not only domination of herb him feel ... incrimination of herb;
evryt'ing, every illegal law is put up to fight against the small man.
An' is de small man who is buildin' up the resource of the earth.
Yes man! Slavery abolish! Dat was from about eighteenth or so
sixteenth blood-clot century ago, dem say slavery abolish! Do right
an' let every man be satisfied. Earth resource must be distribute right.
Herb was made fot the use of man, an' not for de use of some
blood-clot drunkard. Herb was made for de use of man, an' not men in
dem likkle blood-clot chamber! An'man must get herb cause man' keep de
earth runnin' till today. Not men in him likkie limousine, dem likkle
bloodclot luxurious fucker. An dem make de law. Ras-clot! Dem t'ing
get me mad. Yeah, man. It's not me alone dat get mad. It's in some kinda
madhouse de ras-clot where some stay consciously mad and I have to us
just abide wit' de situation, until de situation changes, y'know?
But man, bum-clot, come to dat now, man.
Economical pressure, dem raise up everyting, an' herb will keep you
from t'inkin' about what's going on now. Dem wanna come dominate.
Dem put out, dem wanna bring out dem drugs. Come spring it up on us,
fucker! Dem trip, dem fuck up your head. Wise man use herb. We can
do dat. We have to get out of hell man, whadaya-mean, or let hell
get out of us. What you t'ink man? Too heavy for dem? Well, I know
it is right.
Dem say dat herb is a dangerous drug, and pie-zen, an' every day I
pie-zen myself an' nevah die. So why? Fight against I? Pure Babylon.
Fertilizer come from oil. An' rubbish. Oil an' herb don't mix. Yes, man.
Herb must as plant, come by nature. jus' grow, an' it don' care how
it come. If it knot, or if it spread out. It nice same way. But as
soon ya fertilize it, man, it pure fucker. Your belly hurt. Ah, ya
feel bad like ya wanna vomit, man. Yes, man. But if you smoke some nice
herb an' put your mind somewhere where inspiration flows, herb so nice.
High Times Magazine, Sept. 1976
Stephen Davis: It must be difficult for a touring reggae band to maintain its herb supply.
Peter Tosh: Well, herb is all over America, mon. You don't have to bring no herb here anymore. Ssssswwwwwffftttt. Ahhh.
Stephen Davis: Is it as good as what you find in Jamaica?
Peter Tosh: No way. Psychologically, you just have to pretend that it is good - pretend that you smoking the best draw - till you reach home, where the best is.
Stephen Davis: As a connoisseur of herb, what do you prefer?
Peter Tosh: Well, Thai stick not bad. And the Colombian now, the quality
varies, but the other day I get a draw of Colombian in Milwaukee. Exclusive!!
Peter Tosh: Bullshit! (kissing his teeth bitterly). Nine out of ten people in Jamaica smoke herb. Everyone an outlaw.
Stephen Davis: No, I mean the United Nations has these antidope statutes...
Peter Tosh: United Nations bullshit! (furious). Me no wanna hear that argument there. Who are them who take counsel against I&I, to see that I&I are separated from I&I culture? He who created the earth created herb for the use of man, seen? If herb was growing in the blood-clot United Nations, you think Jamaica could go tell United Nations what to do? So how come the bumba ras clot United Nations dare to come and tell us what to do? Fuck the United Nations! My Father grow herb, and if my Father know what is right would have made herb growing in the United blood-clot Nations, not just in Jamaica for I&I who praise him continually.
Stephen Davis: Why do Jamaican politicians pay so much attention to the music?
Peter Tosh: Well, dem have to listen to what the people say to know the people's view. Reggae is telling them what's on the people's mind, seen? 'Cause the singers and players of instrument are the prophets of the earth in this time. It was written: Jah say, "I call upon the singers and players of instruments to tell the word and wake up the slumbering mentality of the people." Seen?
Stephen Davis:What about your political speech at the Peace Concert?
Peter Tosh: I devoted my time and my energy to making a speech, because sitting before me I saw the prime minister and the whole establishment approximately. So it seemed the right time to say what I had to say as a representative of the people, because irrespective of the way I would like to live, I still must live within the shitstem. I've become a victim of the shitstem so many times.
Stephen Davis: What happened to you after the speech?
Peter Tosh: Three months later, yes, yes, yes! I was waiting for a rehearsal outside Aquarius Studio on Half Way Tree [a main Kingston avenue], waiting for two of my musicians, and I had a little piece of roach in my hand. A guy come up to me in plain clothes and grab the roach out of my hand. So I say him, wha' happen? He didn't say nothing, so I grab the roach back from him and he start to punch me up. I say again, wha' happen, and he say I must go dung so ["downtown" in police jargon]. I say, dung so? Which way you call dung so? That's when I realized this was a police attitude, so I opened the roach and blew out the contents. Well, him didn't like that and start to grab at me aggressively now - my waist, my shoulder, grabbing me and tearing off my clothes and things. Then other police come and pust their guns in my face and try brute force on me.
Stephen Davis: Did they know who you were?
Peter Tosh: No, I don't know. But you don't have to know a man to treat
him the way he should be treated. But because I am humble and don't wear
a jacket and tie and drive a big Lincoln Continental or Mercedes-Benz,
I don't look exclusively different from the rest. I look like the people,
seen? To them police, here's just another Rasta to kill.
Peter Tosh: It was because of my militant act within the society, because I speak out against repression and the shitstem, seen? Yes mon! I know it's a direct connection. I've been threatened before in Kingston, the superintendent of customs drew his gun and said he had wanted to kill me for years.
Stephen Davis: Why are militant artists such a threat to Jamaica?
Peter Tosh: Because their words are corruption, and where there's corruption, there must be an eruption. Ya no see? Politriks! Politician been promising the most good but doing the most dangerous evil. And all the people get is promises. A generation come, and a generation go, and nothing is accomplished.
Stephen Davis: What about your relationship with the Stones?
Peter Tosh: Well, even their name alone is a great input. I see it as a blessing, seen? One of my Father's blessings, because I determination to spread the word. Finding Mick and Keith to spread the word and deal with the music - knowing they not only are interested in the music, but love and respect the music - is great, great blessing.
Stephen Davis: Is there an affinity between reggae's outlaw roots and the Stones' outlaw image?
Peter Tosh: Well, I see it and know it, so because I see and I know, who feels it knows it. Yeah mon!
Stephen Davis: Why did you and Mick choose to showcase an old Motown song, "Don't Look Back," in your Bush Doctor album, instead of one of your more militant songs?
Peter Tosh: Well, that is a psychological procedure, because I am a scientist, seen? 'Cause I'm a mon who has studied human psychology and knows what two-thirds of the world loves, seen? If you're trying to get across to two-thirds of the world, you proceed psychologically by giving them what they want. After they dance to what they want, they must listen to what you've got next, seen? And also I like the title, "Don't Look Back," beacause I don't intend to.
Stephen Davis: Why does preaching play such a strong role in reggae, especially in your music?
Peter Tosh: Well, mon, that is coming from my Father's message chamber, seen? I preach, yes mon, but I do not judge. No man is here to look upon what another man is doing. Judge not, lest ye be judged. I say, make sure your doings are right, so that when the payday comes around, what you get in your envelope will be satisfactory. Ya no seen?
Stephen Davis: Why have so many cultural explosions - reggae, Rastas, dope - come from Jamaica?
Peter Tosh: Because we are the prophets of this Earth. We are they who were executed by Alexander the blood-clot Great and those great pirates who used to go round and chop off the saints' heads. All these things are revealed between the lines through the Third Eye. I&I see ourselves as the reincarnated souls of those carried off into slavery.
Stephen Davis: Are you suprised by the dramatic acceptance of reggae over the last few years?
Peter Tosh: It was prophesied, my brother. Only fools are suprised at the manifestations of prophecy. Seen? Only those who cannot see between the lines will be suprised.
Stephen Davis: What about the future of reggae?
Peter Tosh: Yes mon. Fifteen years from now, there will be a different dispensation of time. The shitstem will no longer be. All the places that are built upon corruption shall be torn down and shall be no more upon the face of creation. Yes mon! Five years from now will be a different age. Five years from blood-clot now will be totally different. No wicked left on the Earth. By 1983 Africa will be free.
Donald Kinsey Talks about Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. Donald played on Bob and Peter LP's and toured with both.
I started seeing that the music needed to go somewhere. I started becoming interested in wanting to be part of the music from a track standpoint of view – from the very first creative impulse. Like on this last album, the Mama Africa album, I requested from Peter that I be able to be there from the moment of laying the tracks, because I feel that’s where it’s all that, man. If it’s not there in the tracks, it’s not really there. And so when we was doing that album, the producer Chris Kenzie came up to me – we were staying at the same house – and he asked me what if Peter did a version of “Johnny B. Goode.” When he first said it, I had to just think for a minute. I said, “Well, a lot of rock and roll groups have done a version of ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ and they did it just like Chuck Berry did it. If Peter did it, there wouldn’t be nothing there that would remind you of the original ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ other than maybe some hot guitar licks.”
So I sit down and try to work out an arrangement. And it turned out we came up with a pretty nice little arrangement and presented this to Peter. For a long time, Peter didn’t want to do the song. For whatever reasons, he wasn’t into doing somebody else’s song. I don’t know what it was. There would be a lot of other Rastamans around that would just tell him that he don’t need to do somebody else’s song. “You don’t need to do some rock and roll tune, man.” But I felt that the tune really had something in common with Peter. Peter’s from out in the country – you know what I mean? We changed a few of the lyrics around, like saying “deep down in Jamaica close to Mandeville, back up in the woods on top of the hill,” for it to really be Peter. Instead of being the leader of a rock and roll band, he’d have a reggae band. But, man, it was difficult. He did not want to do this song.And this is an example of some of the things that I contributed, in a sense, to the music. Some people felt it as being “diluting the purity of reggae.” But I don’t see it that way. And “Johnny B. Goode” was a pretty nice record for Peter Tosh. After he finally laid the vocal track, it ended up being one of his favorite tracks.
After Smile Jamaica Concert in Dec. 1976 Donald left the Wailers and joined back up with Peter.
I got a call from Herbie Miller, Peter Tosh’s manager. I met them up in Woodstock because they was rehearsing for the Rolling Stones tour there. The Stones really was into Peter, man. Peter was finishing his Bush Doctor album there at Bearsville Studio, and the Stones was rehearsing for the tour there. So we went up there and Robbie Shakespeare, along with Peter, was producing. That album had a couple of hot tracks on it – I kind of liked it – plus I liked the fact of being able to do some tracks with Keith Richards. He played on the album too.
Did you accompany Peter Tosh on the 1978 Rolling Stones tour?
Yeah. That was really great, man. I had fun doing that. Usually by the end of an album, I would end up doing the tour. We didn’t start the tour – I think the Stones was already out like a week or two before we actually started it. But that was an experience man, I’ll tell you. The first show we did was in Philly, I think. You get over 100,000 people at that big stadium. These people was there to see the Rolling Stones, man, and we was up on that stage. It was the first time I’d been in a situation on that level. We first came on, and we got a few apples up there on the stage, a few cans. This happened for about maybe 15 minutes. Mick Jagger eventually came out on the stage and he made a statement, which was really nice. He said that we was invited on this tour as his guests, and he told the people to just cool out, sit back, and get into the music. After doing that, we struck into “Don’t Look Back,” which was the record that they had did together on the Bush Doctor album.
Mick Jagger was up there singing with you?
Right. That tour there really exposed reggae to a wider audience. We started out with them on the East Coast, and out of the whole tour we must have did about 15 shows.
Did you ever join in during the Rolling Stones’ set?
Most of the time they was onstage with us. They wouldn’t do it every place, but every now and then they would do the “Don’t Look Back” tune. See, Peter was on Rolling Stones Records too. Keith wouldn’t come out too much. I was hoping that he would, because there was one tune that we actually played on together, which was the title track “Bush Doctor.” Keith wouldn’t come out too much, but Mick would, and he would play guitar too. I had the pleasure of singing “Happy Birthday” with Mick on that tour. [Laughs.]