Reasoning With Tosh by Roger Steffens and Hank Holmes
Early in September, Peter Tosh spent a few days in Los Angeles on business. On two separate evenings he found time to visit with Roger Steffens and Hank Holmes, both of whom are contributing editors of the Reggae News. On the first evening, Steffens found Tosh sitting in his hotel before a television set, something the former found rather ironic in light of Tosh's constant condemnations of things Babylonian. Tosh laughed an explanation: "I love to watch television in Babylon, especially the news because it's so full of corruption. I-man know there is so much corruption, there is bound to be an eruption!" Talk soon turned to music, and to the immense Reggae Archives that Holmes maintains in his Hollywood apartment. Tosh said he'd like to see them first-hand, and so they piled into a car and drove cross-town. The trip was worth it; Tosh finding more than twenty records released under his name that he had never known existed. Included in that number were three organ solos, as well as singles, attributed to "Peter Touch," for which he had never been paid a cent. After a brief tour of The Stacks, we turned on the tape recorder. What follows is the bulk of our conversation that evening.
with Hank Holmes, Roger Steffens
RS: Are people developing sinsemillia in Jamaica?
PT: What? Some blood-clat sinsemillia in Jamaica, mash up ya head mon ... I was thinking of writing a song long time named "Sweet Sensemillia how good she make me feel-a."
RS: The Soho News article in New York that I just read about your latest tour had an inane paragraph about "Where was Peter Tosh in the 60's when the American Blacks were on the line, where was Peter Tosh in the civil rights marches?" Ha! You were living in Jamaica!
PT: Ras clat!
RS: And the spirit that existed in American music in the 60's seems to have been lost in the swelter of disco in the 70's and you're one of the rare people who are willing to stand on stage publicly, and break the law for a belief...
PT: True. Serious T'ing.
RS: And I don't think you got the proper recognition for that, it not just a stage pose, for you it's a revolutionary, stance.
PT: Yes mon, most people don't know that.
HH: An act of the minister.
RS: The bush doctor himself. A year and a half ago you told Peter Simon pot was going to be legalized in two weeks. What happened?
PT: Well, due to the politrickal shitstem which governments only use these, what you call, strategies for politrickal achievements, seen? So that they can gain power, because the prime minister went to jail and released over three hundred people who were charged for small possession of herb..
RS. When was this?
PT: 1972. Seen? I know people who have been released from prison for it. And after that, seven times the amount went back to prison for less than that.
PT: Because it's just the same politrickal shitstem.
RS: Is it because of Manley, or is it because of people putting pressure on Manley?
PT: Pressure on Manley? Well I don't know who's putting pressure on Manley. But, I know a prime minister supposed to have certain amount of power, seen? And irrespective of who's putting pressure, is him the Prime Minister. If I were the prime minister no guy could tell me what to do. Blood clat, cuz I know what is right. Seen? And everything I do must be Biblical and righteously right. So me no want no guy come tell me what to do. Furthermore they don't know what to do, so how can a man who don't know what to do tell someone what to do? The guys want to gain power and fame, same general shitstem.
RS: So what can be done to bring about the legalization of ganja in Jamaica?
PT: Well: everybody just march one day, all who smoke herb, let the police lock up everybody, yeah mon, cuz approximately 70% of Jamaica smoke herb. The rest of the 30% who don't smoke it drink the tea ...
RS: ... . the grandmothers and the grandchildren, right?
PT: Yes, I.
RS: But often the grandmothers who make ganja tea are opposed to smoking it.
PT: It's the brain-washing shitstem, very ironic y'know, but people are so much uneducated, there is a mass of illiteracy within the society, seen? Y'know?
HH: That is the society
PT: Yeah, mon.
RS: Oh god this illiterateracy, is only machine to make money. . .
PT: Yes I.
RS: Slave driver . . .
PT: . . . and the shitstem continues only the name has been changed.
RS: Peter, you grew up in the country, didn't you?
PT: Born in the country, Westmoreland.
RS: What was your life like there as a youth? Did you live with your parents?
PT: I didn't live with my mother, but I am my mother's only child, and I didn't grow with her, I was grown with my aunt, my mother's aunt, my grand-aunt, when I was three years old until I was fifteen.
RS: So she had a lot of influence in your life?
PT: No. No. Never.
RS: You were three by the time you got to her ...
PT: See, I was three years in size, but fifty years old in the mind, seen? Because I was born with matured mind, and born with a concept of creativity, and any time there's a controversy within me, it create an inner conflict, seen? And any time that inner conflict is created, something is wrong, so you must internally investigate it. And with that mind, I grew up with that mind. I like, and I love, everything that is right. seen? I was born, raised in righteousness, not to say that my parents was righteous, because they did not know what was righteousness. They were being led away to a shitstem, or being deceived by deceivers, you see, because they wanted to know what was righteousness.
HH: Were they Rastas?
PT: No. But at the same time there was truth within them, and if they had found the real truth they would have known themselves, seen?
RS: Were you raised in a church at all?
PT: I was raised in a church man, and they try many times to baptize me, many times!
RS: And you resisted?
PT: Yes man, physical resistance and spiritual resistance. Yes, I. Because the reason why, there is truth inside of me and when I go to church, I go to church because my parents go to church, and I think that the things that my parents was doing at the time was right, seen? Because they were the ones who was growing me up in a nature and admonition of upfullness and righteous- ness, and their life was supposed to be an example, seen?
HH: So you believed you're supposed to go to a church?
PT: Well I believe because, well, those are the days I was living in belief.
HH: Oh, I see, back then. You mean you were just going along with tradition?
PT: True. Because I was living in belief, not knowing, cuz belief, knowing and belief, is two different things. Seen?
HH: Uh huh. Far, far different.
PT: Well, going to church as a youth, because I know and I feel that my concept within me was to do things that was right. I never think that I should hurt a man, that's the way I was born, and raised, that's the way I grow, that's the way I feel within myself, I don't think that I should hurt nothing that has life, seen? And I will have nothing to do with nothing that is wrong, but at the same time I did not know what was right from wrong, because there was no one to teach me.
RS: Who was.your first spiritual teacher?
PT: Well, my first spiritual teacher is Jah. Yeah, mon, Jah himself from such time, because everyone who try a-go to church, and they were trying to teach but they weren't teaching, they was brainwashing. Since I would never call that teaching. But it was still a lie, because out of every nonsense, there is sense, if you know how to disintegrate them, seen?
RS: How, much music do you think you have in reserve?
PT: About two albums. And some that's not recorded yet.
RS: And what happens when you go into the studio to make an album? Do you take all the pieces that you've already recorded and do some new ones and see which mix works best? Or do you go in to cut a specific album?
PT: When I go in to make music, mon, I just go to do an album, I never generally go inside a studio to do, or to re-record a music, but at the same time there are some music that have been recorded over a period of time, which could be done better in this dispensation of time, according to the advance in the instruments and the knowledge of how people dance the music and how much response. And feeling out the people psychologically you could know how to put different, different things that would be attractive to the listener, because music takes that - you've got to study human psychology to make music acceptable, and if you don't do that you can't cope or continue to exist in a musical scene. Youll do just one or two or three songs and die after . . . especially when you are an influence musician, seen?
RS: An "influence musician"? When you are an influence to others?
RS: You think it's important to provide a direction for other people?
PT: Well, when I say influence now is like you write a song, and all I do is sit down and wait til you write a good song, I try to make it better than you. Many artists do that.
RS: John Holt?
PT: Um humm. He's one of the main one too. Yeah, mon. Always keep on doing that.
RS: Is that why your music is always changing, Peter?
PT: Yes, you see, as an inspired musician, an inspired singer, I travel the garden of music, thru inspiration. It's a large, very large garden, seen? Well, travellin' the garden of music, I see so much different ways of interpreting reggae, which is still reggae, which an influence musician cannot go into those dimensions to find out, it will take them the next ten years, the next fifteen years, cuz if you don't smoke herb you cannot travel into the garden of inspiration. Because any other thing else take you different places, or create a controversy on the road to inspira- tion.
RS: Where do you think music is headed in the 80's? Do you think we're going to unite more with African, or other Third World musics?
PT: Well, talkin' about Third World, where is the third world and who is the people of the third world? Because if there is a third world, there is a second world, and where is the second world, and if there is a second world, there must be a first world, so where is the first world? So all those things, I don't use those clause, unless I know whose terms, what they are meant. Because they are just colonial slave attitude clause, seen? So that people can be isolated from their cultures, by calling themselves Third World.
RS: And most of the third world countries are the places of origin for the people in the first and second world . . .
PT: Seen. Serious business. Because all this music is from the First World. Herb comes from the first world . . .
RS: Heartbeat music, message music.
PT: Yes, I, because that is the only music that have heartbeat.
RS: What do you listen to at home?
PT: I play lots of American pop music...like, sometimes Teddy Pendergrass, sometimes the Commodores, sometimes the Isley Brothers, and all those progressive groups...
HH: You like that stuff?!
PT: It is not a matter of liking, but music is divine. But is what the singer or the writer decorates the music with - the lyrics, seen? That makes the music very immoral, seen?
HH: Yeah. I don't know, reggae is so much nicer.
PT: Yes, mon, reggae is a spiritual music, reggae is the only music that has spiritual ingredients, seen?
HH: Container for the message.
HH: I've met a lot of Rasta People who say they are twelve tribes rasta . . .
PT: Total controversy. There is no spiritual element in those who say they are of different denominations because saying you are twelve tribes or saying you are Ethiopian Orthodox that's another denominational attitude.
HH: It's one step away from Jah.
PT: Um hmm. Not one, Many! Six steps away.
HH: Right. You've got the RMA . . .
PT: Yes mon ... well you see this twelve tribe business now, it a thing that have to be, because as prophecy said it was in the beginning, time and history has recorded the judgment.
HH: The same people who said that he was crucified.
PT: Serious t'ing. Well I got a book the other day, is called "History of the Italian Massacres" something like that, in Ethiopia. I learn that, when I read that book it brings tears to my eyes.
RS: Is that Menelek? Or Selassie?
PT: Selassie I.
RS: So it's the 30's.
PT: Yes mon, '34-'37, around in there. Terrible, terrible. Any man was found with the picture of His Imperial Majesty, head off! Any you can see soldiers, Italian soldiers, and all different kind of soldiers with the head of Rasta in their hands, boasting, posing - send heads, a dozen heads in baskets, to show their family, of the Rastaman's head. Seen? Plenty people don't know these things. I see pictures of that.
HH: He set up the Pope.
PT: It bring grief to my...Yes! Serious business. That's the way I start to investigate from that I say "Oh, this is how the business was set up." Seen? Try to kill off the saints and then you have all kind of demons calling themselves saints up on the earth. Seen? All form of demons say they are Saint Benedict, St. Paul...pair of demons them. And when I come into investigate, they killed all the saints, all the priests, and the abunas, they burned the churches, burned the history, seen? Just to keep traditional black history back, seen, so that they can come and print Jesus Christ and say worship ye him. Seen? But all these things Jah say time and history has recorded their judgment and the cycle is turning 360 degrees, it has been turning for two thousand years, and it has already turned 340 and picot degrees . . . so is just a little picot leave, seen? So so it was in the beginning, so shall it be. Once upon a time this (holding his locks) was subversive, subversive, is still subversive, but because people is growing up into what they call a modern society seen? You cannot do those things too much, but they are still doing it behind the dark, seen? Still humiliating one and two rastas: "Natty head bwoy!" That's the way the police treat ya, y'know? "Come here bwoy! Bwoy you a rasta!" And they use kind of all ministration. But those are the things that make me firmer indeed because Jah say when you call that man there, Emperor Haile Selassie I, he says, " when you call of my name and begin to praise me as the almighty, your mother, your father and your best friend will turn against you. Seen? And you have to go thru these tribulations ... but most people don't overstand who His Imperial Majesty is, there are lots of propaganda being spread ...
HH: They're afraid to believe in a living god
PT: YES!! True. And they are afraid to face the truth.
HH: The Pope wants you to think he's a spirit.
PT: Um hm.
HH: Somewhere away.
PT: A-whoa, living in the sky and all these kind of bullshit, y'see. And plenty people have been hooked on the fantasy, that's why you have so much churches and business, cuz it's a commercial business. The Lord God is for sale, come and buy your way to Heaven. Seen? You come and pay one-tenth of your earning...I remember my father went into the synagogue when there was those same devils, 2,000 years ago congregating in the synagogue, selling his name, and he went in there and he whipped everyone, and chased them out, seen? I cannot forget those things, and I see the time has come now when they try to show that that man is the wickedest man on the earth, that's what the press and all those ministers of propaganda write how he stole, how much million dollar, and thief up the people them, and rob money and put it in a Swiss bank and all them bloodclat propaganda. But you see, me, me I is one of the rasclat witness to that man, Ras Tafari, me say a true witness. Every day I see proof to prove to me that if there is any other almighty, show me him. Because me can prove to the world how I come to the conclusion that Emperor Haile Selassie I Igzhiabeher massagan is the almighty. Can prove dat. He died twice one week. (Chuckles) Only me know that, bloodclat, twice one week. I will tell you how. You remember the time they said HIM die? I was in Jamaica, I was coming to America, seen, me and Bunny, Bunny drove me to the airport. When I reach the airport I heard lots of excitement, all the heathens gather. "Now hear, a-now God dead" and all kinda little fuckup propaganda, what grieves me deep down in here so that sometime I feel like thump all guy in a mouth for tellin' me them fockrie there, see. But when I check I see is just his ignorancy, seen? Lost in fantasy. Me say no, the spirit say to me, you must not travel today, and I just cancel my flight and went back home, because I was grieved over the public mischief and the propaganda, seen? I went back home, the spirit said to me, you will not travel until three days time. That is the power of the trinity, seen? That has lots of significance to do, seen? (Hank points to the three pix of HIM on the wall) Yes, I. So when I say, yes, but I did not go nowhere for three days, well the third day the spirit say you will travel, today. Went, rebooked my ticket, went to America. Came to New York...Old York, went to my hotel, relax, thinking, meditating, thinking of the public mischief and the propaganda going on in Jamaica, down in the Valley of Jehosaphat, something strange going on. That was the third day. The third day in America HIM is not dead, yet. Seen? I want tell you something; the fourth day in America I was still listening with four ears to hear of the death of HIM; he still didn't die yet, the fourth day. The fifth day, he still did not die in America.
HH: The last thing you heard was that he drove away in a car.
PT: (WHOOSH!) I want tell you something, the sixth day, he died. Today! I was watching the television, and the television say, "News Flash: Emperor Haile Selassie, King of Ethiopia, or who the people of Jamaica call God, has died today." That is six days after I left Jamaica. Seen? The devil is a guy who love the number six. Six is imperfection.
RS: Mark of the Beast. 666.
PT: A-whoa. Jah say travel the third day, just was to prove these things and the propaganda how it is designed, then I know that all those propaganda came out of Jamaica. That's the time I say yes ...
HH: Marcus Garvey died about four times too . . .
PT: Him dead a million times, a blood clat!
HH: A lot of different people...His wife reported him dead two weeks after he was supposed to have died, but they never found him.
PT: Yeah mon, the same thing was said about John the Baptist, the same thing was said about Moses, and now no one know where those people buried. Blood clat!
HH.- It's the Living God!
PT: Pshhh! So those are the times and things that convince me that the prophets of earth never die. Those people knew the secrets of life . . .
RS: The guardian spirits of the planet . . .
PT: A-whoa, never die! And when I say never die, I mean the flesh, never fade! The flesh never leave the creation, see, because with that divine spirit the flesh cannot fade. If the spirit is weak then the flesh fade, seen?
HH: Jah havefe leave it.
PT: Yes l, and all those prophets of earth were divine prophets, seen, so divine that Joshua look at the sun and say "Hold on there, don't move" and the sun stood still for the next twenty- four hours, and he kill over 40,000 Philistines, seen? And the Philistines were who David and all those great prophets were fighting, was those guys who was trying to keep the name of Jah Rastafari insignificant until this time, 6,000 years ago, and it's always been in sixes. Seen? So that's how the devil work, in sixes. Yeah, mon.
HH: Sounds Nyabinghi to me.
PT: Yes I, positively facts.
HH: Now Bob Marley was twelve tribes, though, right?
PT: Well, when Bob Marley left Jamaica, according to my knowledge, he was a Twelve Tribe ...
HH: He was setting up that whole thing, with the birthdays..
PT: Yes, yes, well I heard of that. But when he came back to Jamaica now he was an Orthodox.
HH: Ummm. Next week, he'll be ...
HH: Now was Bunny Wailer's disco "Bright Soul" about Marley?
PT: No, man. No, man. Well, you see, every song is a sign. It may not be specifically designed for him, but if you do negative works you fall under the contents of that song.
HH: How righteous do you think Bob Marley is?
PT: Well, I don't know, I'm not here to judge a man's righteousness
HH: I know, but do you believe he does good works?
PT: Well, he's done good to me. Some good to me. Lots of bad to me too. Seen? But my father says forgive them, for they know not what they have done. Well you see me, I am not here to check what a man is doing, I am just here to see that my hands are clean, seen? Because no one knows what one does when he gets behind closed doors. So whether Bob is wrong or he is right it is for my father, because by their works he shall know them. And Jah say whatsoever I do shall prosper. That means if you do an upfullness your works must be prosperous, irrespective of humiliations, aggravations, obstacles you must bob, skip and jump.
RS: Do you think you might bob, skip and jump back into the Wailers?
RS: Back in the future?
HH: Forward ...
PT: What you talkin' about, back, man? Lot's wife look back, and became a pillar of salt.
RS: Maybe you'll lookforward and turn into a Wailer! Do you think you and Bunny, and Bob will ever do anything together again?
PT: Well, that is my hopes and aspiration ...
RS: And the hopes of a lot of people who never had the chance to see the three of you together.
PT: True. True. Because I am thinkin' of writing a song that three of us can sing and the Title of that-song would be "Here We Are Together Again." Seen? And that will be very effective psychologically.
RS: With the meaning that if we can do it, how about you?
PT: Seen. True.
RS: I hope that happens. Have you written that song yet?
PT: All my songs are written
RS: You just have to tune in
PT: Yes I, just sing them.
RS: I'd like to talk about the beginnings, though, when you left Westmoreland and went to Kingston. You were...fifteen?
RS: Why'd you do that?
PT: To learn.
RS: Did you play music before that time?
PT: Yes man, music was playing me from such time. Yeah man, I was born in music, from ever since I could talk and exchange verbal thoughts I could sing from such time.
RS: What was the first instrument you ever played?
PT: Guitar . . . I made it.
RS: Out of what?
PT: Piece of board, sardine pan, and some plastic line, the plastic you use for fishing ... get good sound too.
RS: Did it stay in tune long?
PT: Yes man ...
RS: And you could catch fish with it when you got tired of playing.
PT: (Laughs) Yes, mon.
RS: What did you take to Kingston with you when you left?
PT: Well, all I took was my little grip, and some food to eat on the way, and meself, and Jah in my heart. Yes I.
RS: How, soon after did you meet Bunny and Bob?
PT: Was a couple of years.
RS: Did you play music at all in that period of time?
PT: With Bob or ... ?
RS: No, with somebody else?
PT: Well I just play with myself, because music was a concept born in me, so anytime I sit down and relax I always think or play music, or write music.
RS: Who'd you meet first, Bob or Bunny?
PT: Well, I met both of them. I met Bob, Bunny, Joe Higgs, Seeco, Lascal Perkins, Maytals, all those people come from Trenchtown them, lots of other youths too.
RS: Theophilus Beckford?
PT: Yes, man ...
RS: He's on the back of one of your first records...When did the Wailers first sing together? You, Bunny, Bob and I guess Joe Higgs, right, so it was a quartet?
PT: No, Joe Higgs, Junior Braithwaite, and the next youth I don't remember him name right now ...
RS: And a woman?
PT: Two women: a girl named Cherry and one named Beverly Kelso. (Hank produces Warner Bros. promo "Wax Paper" with reggae insert and picture of early Wailers.) BUMBA-RAS-CLAT! (Laughs)
RS: (About the 1966 picture) You look pretty good there, Peter.
PT: I look fat.
RS: Not ital in '66, huh?
PT: Bumba clat, ras clat!...Watch Bob! (much laughter)... See Beverly there, now (in second picture). Blood clat suit there, man, shine suit, mon. Very shine.
HH: Lookin' spiffy
PT: Yeah man.
RS: But not spliffy. . .What label were you on in '66? Coxsone, Studio One?
PT: '66? (Looks at Hank for answer, much laughter) I think it was Lee Perry.
HH: It was a long time after Coxsone before Lee Perry, you didn't do nothin.
PT: We break for about a year, Bunny went to prison, during that period of time, after Toots came from prison, Bunny went in prison.
HH: And that was when Bob came over here.
RS: So that would have been around '69? When did you do the Leslie Kong stuff?
PT: I man no count no years and time ...
HH: Too taxing on the mind ...
PT: Yeah mon ...
HH: Too scientifical ...
RS: Let's come up to the album most people seem to think is the classic, "Catch a Fire," because it was the introduction for an awful lot of people into reggae, the first time they heard sounds like that. It was coupled with "The Harder They Come" soundtrack and a chance to see Jamaica through that film. And that was a powerful one-two punch that started the whole reggae phenomenon. It took you two weeks to make "Catch a Fire"?
PT: About three, four weeks.
RS: It must have been very different from anything you had ever recorded. It was Chris Blackwell, right, in London?
PT: Chris Whiteworst. You talk about Blackwell, what was well with him? (Much laughter) So me call him every time me see him, "What happen Whitewell, what happen Blackwell?" That's how me greet him every time to make him know seh, well, is not Blackwell a really name, is Whitewell...him laugh.
RS: You did one more album with the Wailers ...
PT: "Burning." This is a great album too ... (opens cover) All them blood clot pictures of Lucifer! All the same guy. (He points to long-locked dread on inside cover.)
HH: That's what I thought. Now, l wonder why you say that if he's on your album.
PT: My album? I don't know nothing about this. I was in America when all these things [happened] man. When I come to Jamaica, I see that, I was grieved. You see any of my picture there, mon?
PT: Not one picture is there for I. And yet still I sing on the album. So there was something within those fuckers, was trying to keep me out.
HH: Yeah it's a good thing, bad company to keep.
PT: Well, I am out, and I am still here, very progressive too.
RS: And the rastaman in the pictures is the devil?
PT: He Lucifer! The ras clot. Yes, man, him dread drop off clean, clean, all his trimmings. Me ask him, "What happened to it, what happened to your dread man?" Him say, "Bwoy, look like lice eat it off!"
PT: Yeah mon.
RS: After "Burning," you and Bunny decided not to tour anymore.
PT: Yes man, because that was a whole pack of bullshit. Lots of aggravation.
RS: Thestory I heard is that you toured the north of England for three months and at the end of it he handed you each a hundred pounds. Is that a true story?
PT: I believe so.
RS: For three months ...
PT: A ras clot, and pure fuckerie. Well, the reason why I stopped these things too, the agreement that we had, the company wasn't living up to their side of the agreement, the respect and everything that was due, was, you know, pushed aside. And we couldn't take them fuckerie there, because after having twelve years of experience of what reggae music is, the first thing Chris Whitewell told us was that it would take him five years to build us. That was after we knew all that we know, it was going to take us another five years of twelve to build us again. I want to know what else he was going to put on us ...
RS: ... that wasn't already there. He added a lot of different sounds to the basic roots sound of the Wailers. Were you displeased at the time of the album when he did that, when he laid in lead guitar tracks by other people...an American played lead guitar, didn't he?
PT: That was a part of the attraction of the music, as long as it was following the lines of the music, and live up to the principal of the music, because reggae music is a very beautiful music, but is not everyone who play reggae music know how to decorate it for it to be musical. Most people them know how to put in a drum, a bass, a guitar and a piano going chang-chang, and two more instruments and it done, recorded on four tracks or recorded on two tracks. Reggae is symphony! Biggest music you can think of. Most instrument! Reggae can be played with a thousand horns ...
PT: (Laughs) Yes I.
HH: I like it simple. Simple.
PT: No, you see, Reggae is the greatest music. Seen? And when reggae used to be played thousands of years ago, it was no three people playing it, or four, was a band!. A Great Celestial Band! Seen? And it was no one horn section, or no two horns, and was lots of percussive instruments. In those days we didn't have electrical instruments, still it could be invented. Because I & I was advanced from such times, we made the pyramid, we made lots of blood clot things the West can't tell how it was made, until now, seen, so we could have made piano too! (Much laughter) Blood clot, yes I.
HH: All men come from Africa.
PT: Yes I, every man.
RS: What was the final straw for the Wailers breaking up, was it that tour in England?
PT: Well was not a breakup you know...Is just going three different ways and sending the music in three different directions ... was just that my inspiration was growing and my cup filled and runneth over.
RS: Is that the reason why the three of you release certain records in Jamaica that you don't release anywhere else?
PT: Lots of records we don't release anywhere else.
RS: Why do you decide to release something like "Vampire" in Jamaica, but not release it in America or England?
PT: Well, it's not to say not release it in America or England, but is just how it was controlled. When I was working with Columbia, was the time I recorded "Vampire," and when I recorded it, because of the contracts and the agreements, I could not release those music unless it was in the West Indies according to the agreement, seen? It was for Columbia to do the American release, but when "Vampire" was released my contract with Columbia expired, seen, so they would never do nothing. But is not too late for a shower of rain, "Vampire" is still around.
RS: Who's the biggest vampire in Jamaica these days?
PT: Why, bumbaclot! There are so much vampires there! which one bigger? Biggest vampire's Lucifer, the Devil himself, that's the head of the vampires. (Picks up quart-sized glass bowl.) Me have to smoke. Me all a bloodclot bowl like this before my propellor start spin. (Laughter) When I was doing a tour last year, and I went thru Milwaukee, blood clot! A brother gave me a herb down there man, lick off me head clean...and guess what kind of herb too? Columbian! Yes man.
RS: Yes? Well you're two months too early, because the crop is about to come in, but it hasn't yet.
RS: Two months from now you'll have the best weed in years I think . . . Do you have any old favorites that you've been looking for, for a long time, Peter, that maybe Hank might have in his stash? Any songs you've missed that you haven't heard for a long time?
PT: Why, blood clot, is a man hardly go in a past, I'm a man of the past living in the present. I do much of my walking in the future. True, yeah man. 'Cause, boy, I heard people talk about the good old days, what the blood clot was good about those old days? I've never seen nothing good. Was pure ignorancy, I don't even like to think about the ignorancy of those old days, seen?
HH: When you don't know, right from wrong.
PT: True, true.
HH: Might as well just forget that.
PT: Yes, I.
RS: One of those "old days" was the night of the Peace Concert, that alleged peace concert, and alleged peace treaty. Has anything changed since then?
PT: Legendary peace concert, so-called. Anything change? Yes. More people dead. Yes man.
RS: So no peace?
PT: Peace? Then what you think peace is? Peace is death.
RS: "Peace is the diploma you get in the grave."
PT: Yes, mon. Yes, mon. Your passport to heaven. Most people don't know that. You see, most words in Babylon are used strategically, seen? And people go to school and get educated. But most people who go to school and become a graduate in education, still don't know what the word "education" means.
HH: Wise is a little different from Babylon schoolbooks.
PT: Yeah, mon. You see the word "educo" comes from Latin. "Educo" means to bring out. Seen? So if I go to school to be educated, is to extract my concept of creativity, to brainwash me in bullshit, seen? And makes me a gradu-hate ...
RS: This is the international year of the child, Marley's son just made a record on Tuff Gong, calling himself Melody Maker, and it's called "Children Playing in the Streets." Have you heard it?
PT: What? No. You heard it?
RS. Yeah, the music's great, but his voice doesn't work yet. It's naive and pleasant, but it's more interesting than good. But it's a single on Tuff Gong, by a kid, and they're going to inherit the world. How do Rastas raise their children? You don't send them to school .... ?
RS: Who educates the children in rasta society?
PT: Well, so you want to know, is the rastaman . . . the rastaman knows that teaching is a limited source of a fool, seen? Because, who taught the first teacher, seen?
PT: A-whoa! Well if Jah taught the first teacher, he teach the second, and the third, that means I don't have to school. Because when I realize what school is, is just ...
HH: Bullshit ...
PT: Pack of shit ...
HH: I got kicked out of high school two weeks before I was supposed to graduate.
PT: Can imagine that!
HH: Two weeks ...
RS: I dropped out of five colleges ...
PT: A-whoa, you're lucky! I never see a college.
HH: I wouldn't go through that...
PT: I was elementary brought up, seen? And all the things that I teach today, school didn't tell me, all of them I see in the lines of inspiration.
HH: In fact, schools don't even know about that stuff.
PT: Schools know.
HH: But they won't teach it ...
RS: It would put them out of business ...
HH: They want to teach you about the Pope.
PT: Yes, man! Red, white and blue, star shine above you.
RS: At what point does the child understand this?
PT: Well, you see, the rastaman sends his child to school, to learn of the general shitstem, to learn how to read and write, you see, to learn that there's a sign marked "Danger," see?
RS: Why don't the rastas do their own schools for reading and writing?
PT: Well, you see, the rastaman has that, and the rastaman don't even have to teach his child, because every rastaman's child is born with a concept of creativity within him. Is just for him to be opened, so he can get to motivating his faculties.
RS: That's what I want to know, how do you open it?
PT: How do we open it? Is by showing him the right. Let your works be an example to the youth.
HH: Do you teach him right from wrong?
PT: Yes. And he learns what is right from wrong, because in every youth the right and wrong is written inside of him. Seen?
HH: And that's the first thing he's looking for?
HH: To find out what's right and wrong. That's the first thing I looked for.
PT: Yes, mon. So I tell you educational system is bullshit.
HH: That's teaching them the wrong. But you've got to know it, because you gotta know how they work.
PT: Yes! But if you don't know wrong, how you going to do right?
HH: Um hmm.
PT: You gotta know what is foolishness.
HH: You got to learn their ways so that we can't be taken away again.
PT: True, and come back against the shitstem ... Well all these ignorancies and fantasies, soon the World of Walt Disney will be torn down. (Laughter).
HH: The biggest fantasy of all ...
PT: Yes, I ... illusion for sale.
RS: Is that why Reggae hasn't progressed as far as it might have, because it's not selling illusions?
PT: Yes, serious thing.
HH: Too realistic, which is great.
PT: Yes. And reggae has maintained the standard from such time, because it is still being deprived of its constitutional rights.
RS: What happened to you in Monterey? (At the "Tribal Stomp" on September 8, 1979)
PT: Monterey? Why, bloodclot, a fuck-up thing. Went to Monterey, the guys who was promoting the show don't know nothing about promotion. Well, that wasn't my business still. I go there to perform. If there was one people in the audience, I have to get paid. So I went there, the place wasn't really filled. Some of the people canceled out and things. When I was going on stage, couple of minutes before going on stage, I heard that there would be a curfew at ten o'clock. And I was going on stage ten minutes to ten! After waiting to hear a whole pack of stupidness, or some comedian talking a whole pack of bullshit, audience start to boo. Yes, the audience boo'd him off the stage. He was there an hour.
RS: He had a lot of guts.
PT: If it was in Old York, no man, you just go on stage with an ashtray and push it down his throat! (Laughter) And just push him off the stage, say, "Come offa this bloodclot!" There's a man in Jamaica, terrible man, you see that man in Jamaica come on stage and sing all them fuckerie ...
RS: So you put an ashtray in his mouth and tell him to split...
PT: Well, you have some man say, "Whoa, come off, man!" He don't wanna move. A man just go up on him stage and say "One boss better come off him stage!" Yes man, you have some terrible brothers still. (Laughter, as Peter grabs Hank's collar and pulls him out of his chair) Yeah man, I man just come hold him by his jacket, so, yeah man. You see when you go up there and them love you man, when you go on stage and them love you, cho! Them stone you with herb, money ...
PT: Yes, mon.
HH: Moving target.
PT: So one time I was performing at the Ward Theatre. Wailers. Well, now, me start sing, boy! Is just kind of money come up on stage. Poof! Drop beside me some, poof Blood clot! Me look at some two-and-six-pence piece lick me head, and all them things. By the hundreds! Why we say, me couldn't do that, so I stop sing and just go on and pick them up. You know what me pick up man, pick up me two pocket full!
RS: Really! Where was this, what country?
PT: Jamaica, mon ... Ward Theatre. So me done pick up me two pocket full. Before I come off the stage, it was begged out! Every man in the audience come beg it out back. Just beg out everything. (Laughter) Man just beg it out, and me look and me have two-and-six left in me hand, with the two pocket full of money, yeah man! But those amusing still, 'cause me just laugh. Me have some very fantastic experiences on stage, man. One time me was performing at the Palace Theatre and the people was waiting to see the Wailers, and them can't see the Wailers, and a band named the Vikings was playing, and the people were "We want the Wailers! Wailers!!" and them can't see no Wail- ers. The time, we was in the dressing room, waiting, but we had to wait until that band finish. Well, the people was impatient and some blood clot back like this - WOOF! (Makes furious pitching motion) Man have fe run off stage, mon. Yes, mon! Every instrument mash up! 'Cause the people want to see the Wailers!
PT: (Later) A what that (indicating a dub album with H.I.M.'s formal photograph on the cover)?
HH: It's a dub album of Augustus Pablo's label.
PT: A-whoa. (Quoting) "With the help of the father."
HH: Yeah, it's a nice cover.
PT: Well, you see Jah, this time here, is when Jah come this blood clot time here, him a come so, like that. This time when Jah come, him dread. One of Jah dread, big like tree trunk.
HH: Wait. When Jah come when?
PT: This time, here! He say when I come I shall be terrible and dreadful. Well I think he say him come. Look so sweet and them kinda thing there.
HH: No more as a lamb unto the slaughter.
PT: NO, no! Terrible. All me, duck, when me see him. So imagine all the heathens. Yeah, mon. 'Cause many see him in visions, you know. Yeah man. I see him in vision.
HH: A friend of mine has visions all the time. I had one myself
PT: Yeah, mon. I seen a vision terrible, terrible. I see the pit of destruction and seen millions of people inside of the pit going down. And I went to the side of the pit, and stand up like this, say "Blood Bath, where so much people come from?" And looking in the pit, man, is the biggest pit. The circumference of the pit, and the diameter, could never be measured. Serious thing. And 'twas smoke coming out of the pit, people going down in the pit, but the way the people was crying, it was awful. When I hear the crying...
HH: Even the wicked you feel sorry for ...
PT: Yes, man.
HH: They should hear the word once.
PT: Serious thing. Blood clot. I tell you terrible ...
* * *
(Later, as Tosh prepares to leave.)
RS: Thank you for your generosity, for your time, and your good information.
HH: Thanks for coming by, and you're welcome anytime you're in the area ...
PT: Yes, man. Is a great time. Is one of the greatest blood clot things I ever seen! No joke business! I been coming here for a good period of time, and for the few minutes I really feel at home. See the things I love to see here man. There are lots of these things printed over the earth (pointing to poster of Menelek), History of Africa, great kings. Menelek, That, and Natty Abyssinians. Well, you have some terrible warrior!
HH: Uh huh. Beat back Italy.
PT: Them mon, them box down lion, with them bare hand. Lion drop-POOF and dead. When lion see them man, lion run. Yes man! Sometime them man a eyes red like blood ... is like the Nyabinghi ...
HH.- The next time you're over, I'll show you my pictures of Selassie. I got a whole stack of pictures, one of them with a machine gun.
PT: Yes man, that terrible man. You see, the gun that Jah was firing there? That machine gun, that seven man fire! You never know that? That gun was made for seven man to handle, and Jah-one just take up that blood clot RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT!! Guys tremble and shit and say, "Yes, Jah!"
HH: Looks like a mighty picture ...
PT: Yeah man, that terrible man. The Italians drop a bomb in Ethiopia ...
HH: And he's standing in the bomb like this ...
PT: ... And Jah say 'Be still!" The blood-clot.
HH: with a Field Marshall helmet on.
PT: Yes, man. And all the people around him saying "Do Jah give us power to throw it back in Italy!" and Jah say, "No, it will hurt the little people." And it was a gas bomb, poisonous gas. And that bomb is in Ethiopia till now, Jah have it under control (laughter).
HH: Like I sell records, Lykke and Debbie sell plants.
PT: Yes? Through the mail? Ah, dangerous. There is a plant that walks. Ever seen that plant?
Lykke Coleman: I have one. I'm the only person in California who has one. This one is just a baby.
PT: The one l'm telling you about is a big tree. Monstrous tree. Him just push out hands like this, and so anything that is subversive that pass in the way ... Grows in Africa. Anything that's ever passed that tree and is sinful ...
HH: Do you know what the name of it is?
PT: Them call it ... Man-Eating Tree! Yes man, a tree that just catch you, just hold you like this, and just carry you right inside of the trunk of the tree. And all them going to see blood, not even blood would leave.
Reggae Times Newspaper, 1980