Rebel With A CauseInterview by Roger Steffens
Roger: Do you feel uncomfortable when people compare the Wailers to the Jamaican Beatles in the sense that the group had so many lead potentials in it that it had to break apart and become three distinct units? Does that make you uncomfortable, Peter?
Peter: Well, what makes me uncomfortable . . .is when I'm hungry. Seen?
Q: That's either spiritual food or physical food, right?
A: Yes I. For, when I can't get no herb, I am uncomfortable. Seen? 'Cause herb is the healing of the nation. But people always try to classify the Wailers; some people would say that we are the Jamaican Impressions. Seen? And there are many ways - some say we are Jamaican Temptations, and we have always been getting these kinds names, universal from different people who have their picture who they paint in their mind of superstars. They are always being classifying as to them.
Q: But you did songs by both the Impressions and the Beatles.
A: Yeah, mon.
Q: I'd say the Impressions had a greater impact on you.
A: Well, is not a matter of impact. I love harmony. And any time I hear a group that sing harmony, it attracts me, attracts my ears, yunno, and there are certain beautiful things in harmony that I realy admire.
Q: You told me in New York last month that you might re-record "Here Comes The Judge."
Q: Who are the other voices on that record?
A: Well, some of them is the artists. One of the main voices is Joe Gibbs himself.
Q: (laughing) How appropriate, Peter.
A: Yes. So him know him under arrest!
Q: The maaga dog himself.
A: Yes. Yes I. Himself. So the previous tour that I was on recently, I was listening to that tape. And when I listen that tape ... that tape when I listen is like the manifestation of some prophecy because that song was prophesied for the manifestation in this dispensation of time. Seen? Because it said, "here comes the judge." Seen? And that does not mean, the judge in what they call ... in our colonial judiciary shitstem. Seen? Our imperial judiciary shitstem. I mean the Judge of righteousness. Seen?
Q: And these are the times.
A: Times now.
Q: Will you recut it?
A: Yes. Because one thing ... I would recut it, but I would use one of my rhythm. Seen? I would use a rhythm from one of my music that would be more painting the picture of a judge.
Q: When did you first cut it? Around 1970, Peter? It's on the Shocklabel.
A: It was ... about 1972.
Q: And that was Joe Gibbs' production?
Q: All right. Now we played two of the three organ solos released under the name "Peter Touch" only in England. Will you tell us the story about how those tracks came to exist?
A: Bwai I don't know. These things are pirates.
Q: When you came to Hank's house in '79, you said Chin Randy's upstairs studio, and you were rehearsing ... and you had the tape going ...
A: Yes. Well, for example, they would put on a tape, and I hear it, and the organ is around there. I go'round yah and I start play a thing; the guy would say "that song good yunno. Make we try something . . ." I think was Scratch.
Q: So they had the tape going in Randy's.
A: Yeah. For example, I don't know why you don't get this one yet. There is a one called, "Green Duck."
Q: You got that, Hank? Ah, Hank's looking very sad.
A: Well him must get that one. (laughs). Well, that one was recorded on the same nature like the Wailers' one.
Q: And "Selassie Serenade" and "Return of Al Capone". . . all at once.
A: Yeah mon. Just do them. And I want tell you too, I don't remember if I even got pay for them.
Q: Well you never saw the records ... ?
A: No ... I saw the records five years later.
Q: All right now, how about "Mark Of The Beast:'When did you write that?
A: "Mark Of the Beast." Well, that song now is a historical song. Yeah mon. This was ... this song was written before I was brutalized by the police the first time. Seen? I have a history on this song. That night, it was about 10 o'clock.. I came from the country with some fresh, first-time sensemilia, came to town. Seen?
Q: This was around '74?
A: No mon, is'72. . . So I just came from the country with some fresh herb and I was inside my house, testing out this good herb. Seen? Testing out the good herb and . . . 'twas very exotic. Seen? Well ... feeling the ingredients moving through me start to create inspiration. And, the inspiration that came up, it was ... I suppose a prophetic inspiration. I was seeing between the lines in the future, which was to manifest itself in the next 15 minutes.
Q: Whoa! What happened?
A: Seen? Well, writing around my table, sit around my table ... it happen, there was some people keeping a party inside of the yard that I live in. And I was inside, people was outside dancing. I was inside making music. Totally locked-off to what was going on outside. 'Cause, it's like I couldn't even hear what was going on, even though it was a party. Seen. So I was there locked-off, creating music and tapping on my table like this (drums on table) ... creating the rhythm. Here comes ... I heard a shot fire. The song I was singing - "I see the mark of the beast on their ugly faces/i see them congregating in evil places. Me know them a wicked:' Seen? Well, during that happening I didn't even reach a second verse. I hear a shot fire. Seen? When I heard that shot fire, I say 'Wha' that? And I ... my woman was inside ... That was my woman who died in the car crash. She was inside, and I said ... she went outside and looked and she say it was the police. Well ... like after I heard the shot fire, seconds later, I saw people running right out the house and through my apartment and ... seen? Well, them running through my apartment. I said, 'Wait. What kind of a thing gwan on because of the door there? I had a door behind me so them couldn't run through and go through and go reach any more to the back. Well I was there, sifting down still all the same because I did not intend to break the communication with the inspiration. Seen? So I was there yunno, in permanent communication with the inspiration and here comes a guy coming inside, came through my door, come inside, see I with my spliff like this - this same length - not longer than this. And he come and say "Wha 'dat?" Him seh, "A ganja that y'have deh '" Him seh "ganja"; me seh "Ganja is a bird in Australia:' He don't know that. Him seh, "Is wha'dat." Me seh "Herb!" Him seh mek him see it. Give it to him. . . he smelled it. Him seh "a ganja man:' Seen? I said me tek it back from him. Seh "give me ml herb, mon. Gi' I mi spliff:' Well, at that time, is a guy in plainclothes which could be a robber. Seen? Look ordinary.
Q: No suit and tie or anything ...
A: Oh no no. Oh no no, just look ordinary. Just coming out of the rum bar. Well he came ... after I'm well high a took up mi spliff from him, start to push it out my hand, into my pants waist ... they always approach me that kinds way. Seen? I eased it out his hand ... said no, no, y'cyaan do that. A mi house dis. And I eased it out his hand about couple times. Well, and after doing that, he went outside realized that ... he took out his gun first. I seh "Come:' I put him hand back in my pants waist and I ease it out same way. Seen? So him went outside call him friends a seh one criminal inside yah. Seen? Well, his friends them was about six a dem. Two a dem came inside, within, and dragged me outside. Well, when they dragged me outside, two held onto this hand, and two held onto this hand. And the one who is the leader for that execution squad, he took out his .38 out of his waist, and started punch me in the abdominal. With a loaded.38. Seen? Til him tired ... him put it back in his waist. And use him fist. Same place. Til him tired. Seeing if him fist could go back in his waist and go back in here too. Him call fe a rifle and tek a rifle from his friend. And meanwhile them was holding me like this, like Jesus on the cross, seen? He slammed to my ribs. Lower vertebrae. One was dislocated. Seen? All right. Gi' back the guy the rifle; he went behind my house, took a piece a stick that catch ... ummm, the clothesline outside ... break off the bottom, which is the biggest part, and came back, while them was holding me like this - BOOF!!! - to my forehead. Seven stitched. Seen? So I was prophetically looking in the future, which was to manifest itself in the next minutes. And it happened.
Q: But you refuse to be bowed by incidents like that, because in 1975, at the National Stadium concert for the Jackson Five at three o'clock in the morning, you sang "Mark Of The Beast" right to the police face.
A: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Q: That was three years after. And then in '78, after your speech at the One Love Concert you were nearly killed once more by the beast.
A: Yes mon. And that was more than what happen 1972. That time was seven. This time is 1O! They locked me in a room, and tried to ... ummmm, what you should seh ... fracture my skull.
Q: You released a song called "Oh Bumbaclot: 'Would you care to give a brief definition to the uninitiated as to what "bumbaclot" means?
A: Well, for example. One of the verse - this song explains itself - "Oh Bumbaclot:' Well the verse really, it ummm - in the middle of the night, before daylight, I was attacked by evil forces, seen? Spiritual evil forces that cause my mouth to cease from function, cause my hands and legs to cease from moving. Is only my mind that was in function, and my two eyes. As close as four of my friends was to me, which was about 12 inches away, I could not tell a man nothing, or ask a man to do anything to help me; and I was on the brink of what you call "death." Seen?
Q: Suddenly? Just like that?
A: Yes, just like that. Well is not just like that, just like this 'cause it happened previously is like, one of my four bredrens who is in the room apartment - it started with these three (?) man here. Seen? Coming from the hospital I saw ghosts, three ghosts.
A: Yes. Is what they call duppies. Ghosts. 'Cause I can see them. Seen? I saw three of them. And I was the only person out of about 400 that saw them. And they become terrified because they don't like to know that people are, you know, interfering in their business. Seen? So after I left the hospital every night - which I was there for three days, trying to get these things stitch-up - I got them through punching at a drunken man who was hitting at me with a stool, and after more than five times hitting at me, I stopped it. Stopped it and seh "gwan and leave me"; him wouldn't stop. Punched at him; and there at. the moment when my, when the fist was coming across, my friend came behind him and pulled him away, and seh "Leave the man and gwan." And mi hand went through a glass window.
Q: Ah, Peter! So three days after the hospital, fixing you up, you left and saw three duppies ...
A: Mmmmhmmmm. You see, three cuts and three ghosts. Seen? Seh can you imagine that! Well I don't know if is the three a dem attack the night ... well, my friends - I heard one a my friend got hysterical, one part a night about four o'clock and said - ask someone or something, "Where you going?" And we ask him what's happening - his name was Toots. And so we ask him what happen. He said he saw two huge feet coming through the verandah. Bigger than he ever, could ever see. So he got uptight and blast out, and every man we just a stand seh what? We just want ask! Seen? Minutes after he did that, there was a man lying down deh on table like this ... one a my bredren lying down on the bottom of the table. That was my renovating table that I press up, press clothes'cause I used to do renovating at that time. And he was lying up there - it was about four or five o'clock in the morning. And there was a window there. And just seconds after I heard him laughing, he fell off the table. And we ask him what happen. He seh he just feel something just push him like a truck trough the window. And he fell off the table. So now - when these things happen, it cause me to begin to look into between the lines, because to every action, there's a counteraction. And a motivation. Seen? So I start to check what the counteraction, and what is the motivation of this action. That time, I was in my lower qualification of spiritual level. Never accumulated no levels of spiritual ... what you say, accumulation. Like when you go to school and you take your exam, you pass and you get to ...
Q: Your "X' Levels ...
A: Yes I. Me never get no levels yet. I was just beginning to trod the road of spiritual - what you call inspiration or education. Seen? And when, after that thing moved him out of the way, that thing came in. As a light! Seen? And that light went in top of the roof, and I was lying down on my back like this. I'd been sleeping at that place for more than three, four years, and I've never seen that light. So I began to check where does the beam come from?'Cause, I must see a beam to make a light. I see no beam, so I see this light here could be ummm ... very unusual ... don't like how this light ... well, is like, after penetrating the light for many minutes, said to my friend ... I was going to touch my friend, who was close to me as I say. And my hand didn't move. Seen? So me seh "is wha'dat?" So I tried to say something, I go seh, I was gwan seh "Toots:' Not even the "T" was pronounced. Seen? So said, "something wrong, what happen to me?" I start wonder if is something happen to me. Because, 10 minutes ago, I physically fit and conscious, and everything is in perfectly functioning condition. And now my hand can't move. I was wondering if I was paralyzed. I tried to move my foot; it didn't move neither. Seconds later they began to feel as if they were swelling and was going to explode. Seen? Then my tongue began to cleave to the roof of my throat. Seen? And started to, like, my tongue inside was swelling like. So my throat was caulked. And that, at that moment, it cause me to make some inner communication, cause that was the last resort. Seen? Making that inner communication - because I realized that there was no way I could communicate with no man, and I was conscious enough within my head to know that I am alive; and something is taking place, but I cannot tell no man and ask no man to help me. Seen? So I made some inner communication; and that inner communication caused me to get more confidence that there is a Creator that dwells within man. Seen? So I begin to ask Him this question: what must I do? I was just fit - physically fit, mentally, spiritually - and 1 0 minutes ago. And what happen? I say what must I do, just lie down and just dead so, and get up tomorrow and I'm dead? The Spirit say - just say, "move ya bumbaclot!" Me say "What?" Don't hear them tell me that is indecent language; the whole society in the shitstem say is indecent language; so wha' I must do? Them seh don't hesitate - you're on the countdown from three. Seen? And, in the countdown is like I heard, "three, two." And when "one" gwan seh I seh "Move ya b. . ." When I said, "Move ya" didn't come out at all, 'cause those were English-content language. Seen? And when I seh, "BUMBACLOT!" it just fly out like a bomb! Immediately I got up. Immediately every spell was released. And I got up, and I stand up, and I lean and seh, "Bumbablood-clot, that's why these guys said this thing is indecent language; so that them can release their vampires on you. And if you don't have that spiritual communication and counteraction, you go to heaven with your big toes tied." Seen?
Q: Peter, this is the version side; do you think we could get you to toast a little over it? Tell people live, about "Bumbaclot"?
A: Well, that could be detrimental. 'Cause in these societies, these words, so powerful for I truly, that it relieve me of what happened. Seen? And what happen was deadly. It was a countdown to death! So you can imagine telling the world that I have taught myself how to relieve myself of these evil spiritual - what you seh, ahmmmm, combat, that you can go through in life. And if you don't know how to counteract those combats, you become a victim of the shitstem.
Q: Seen. Does that mean you're not going to perform this song live any more?
A: Yes mon!
Q: Yes you will or yes you won't?
A: Oh, every time. Every time. What should make me not perform it? Wait, I'm not ashamed of the song I sing; it's a divine inspiration. I'm living in a world of ignorance, where everything that is righteous is condemned. Seen? And everything that is wrongteous is elevated. Seen? So, because I know that, I know that everything that is legal is illegal; and everything that is wrong, is right! And that's the shitstem.
Q: Do you need America?
A: You have to come through America to go to many other places. I don't - I have already told them that apartheid is eveywhere. And I'm not ashamed to say that. Because racial discrimination is - the foundation, its headquarters in America. That's why you have the White House. Seen? And we don't know that! But, then again, you have to be an intelligent diplomat within the shitstem. Seen? And there is no legal way of doing transaction with South Africa. Seen? Like, you cannot call, you cannot say, "a good Rastaman."
Q: That's redundant. A Rastaman is a good person.
A: Yes. Yes. Always. And many people always make that mistake every time, by talking about "the good Rasta."
Q: You know, when Jack Anderson did his syndicated column recently, saying that Rastas were a bunch of terrorists who are here to assassinate government cifficials, Mutabaruka said, "How come in the newspaper you never see someone saying, Three Christians Arrested For Bank Robbery, or Three Christians Arrested For Murder."
A: Serious thing. And yet still, as you see, the reasons for that now is because Christianity, when it came to the West, it was converted into devil worship. Seen? And deplorability. Spiritual morality has died within the realms of Christianity. And these are the things that Christians promote. Everything that is deadly; the guns, the nuclear weapons - all of those guys go to church who make these things. Seen? And they are Christians.
Q: Who is Pope John Paul II?
A: Pope John Paul?
Q: Who is he - who does he symbolize in these times?
A: Well, Pope John Paul, according to him, is the leader for all denominations and all organizations of Christianity, which Christianity, as I say, is the opposite of the reality of righteousness. That means it's devil's business, paganism. Seen? And they know that.
Q: Why is reggae being held back? Why is there such a worldwide - it seems almost like a conspiracy to keep reggae from getting through these days ... ?
A: is not - it is not "it seems like it's a conspiracy." It is a conspiracy. Seen? And it's a paid conspiracy too.
Q: A paid one - paid by whom?
A: Paid conspiracy by the ministers of propaganda and public mischief, and the ministers of defamation of character, seen? And the ministers of propaganda is those who try to show you that Emperor Haile Selassie, who is our King of Kings, is dead! Seen? And this was the first biggest propaganda they did in this dispensation of time. But prophecy show I that, in this dispensation of time, man would have say that our Creator is dead. But then, if that did not happen, then who would come to the conclusion that He is the Almighty? Seen? So because it is His Divine Inspiration that give us this music, seen, that means anything that is oriented from His Divine Inspiration, in this Christian Democratic world, they will try to eliminate. The forces of evil is busy doing that.... I see where, for example, it is a conspiracy to see to it that reggae is not being played on the black radio stations in America! Seen? Like, it is a conspiracy to see to it that drugs get into all the black communities to poison the nation! Seen?
Q: And stop the revolution.
A: Seen! So, because the music is an awakening to the slumbering mentality of those who have been caught up in the shitstem, the conspiracy is a paid conspiracy and I know that. Seen?
Q: What are you like when you're alone, Peter?
A: When I'm alone? I can sometimes - it is incredible to describe what am I like. If you should sneak in on me invisibly, when I'm alone, you would find me reasoning with myself, and you would wonder, "who and I is there?" Yunno. I reasoning with the spirits.
Q: You do it a lot with your guitar, don't you?
A: Yeah mon.
Q: And let it channel right through.
A: Yeah. True, true.
Q: You tune in.
A: Yes I. Every time.
from Reggae and African Beat magazine, vol. 5, no. 1, 1986