PTBMTRADER'S PETER TOSH articles -VH1-

PTBMTRADER'S PETER TOSH articles
In response to a deluge of e-mails about the premiere last night on VH1 of the Tosh special on "Behind the Music," in which I appear, I am answering, first, an e-mail from Ackee, and then will follow with more specific comments on the show:

From: Ackee123
Greetings Roger from Boston! You did a great job on the show tonight. You spoke with conviction that should make nonreggae fans listen up to Tosh's music.

I had a couple of observations to share:

1. They seemed to hype the Marley-Tosh "rivalry" too much. Was this an attempt to bring in music fans who know the Marley name? RS: See below.

2. Why didn't they ever mention who was giving Peter career advice? Who allowed him to "shoot himself in the foot?" RS: No one could give career advice to Peter, although several tried, like his great publicist Charlie Comer (see this year's Wailers issue of The Beat), and the Rolling Stones themselves. But Peter definitely skanked to his own drummer - until he met Marlene.

3. Did they try to get Bunny for the show? He's the only one with true insight into the Wailers. RS: Bunny declined to participate. Andrew Tosh scheduled three different days with the producers when they flew down to Kingston, but failed to appear each time.

4. How do you think the show came out? Hopefully, it will sell some albums for Peter, and get his message out.

RS: Here are the initial emendations I thought should be made to the program, after viewing its "sneak preview" at noon yesterday:

1. Peter was not "a childhood friend of Bob Marley's." When they met in 1962, Bob was 17 and Peter was 18, well out of childhood in Jamaican culture.

2. Chris Blackwell did not give the Wailers $7,000 to record Catch A Fire. As Bunny Wailer says in his forthcoming autobiography, "Chris gave us eight thousand pounds to record the album." Plus this took place in 1972, not 1971. {At the VH1 preview party last night, I was told that the 8,000 pounds was divided in half, so that they were given approximately $7,000 to take back to JA to actually record the record, and received the second half upon delivery of the completed album a few short weeks later.}

3. Peter and Bob did not have a "long-term love-hate relationship." The bad feelings began eleven years after their pairing, with the collapse of the group in 1973, which came primarily because Bunny had quit touring, and Peter had no one with whom to harmonize. Plus Peter wanted to have an outlet for more of his unrecorded songs, as the show does tell us, and Chris Blackwell, as usual, wanted a single person to promote to the public. {Again, last night, some of the producers explained that they had to narrow the six or eight different strands of Peter's life to two manageable ones - which were the Tosh-Marley rivalry, and Peter's militant image and works. To be fair, the show's format is dictated by the needs of commercial television's short attention spans, and allows only 43 minutes to tell a story. Thus a myriad of compromises are involved, and no one person, or faction, gets total control of the final outcome.}

4. The scenes of the looting are anachronistic - Peter helped loot the downtown Kingston department store during the Walter Rodney riots around 1968, not in the aftermath of the group's breakup in 1974, which the show seems to indicate by playing these scenes then. {It was explained to me last night that they were trying to give an impressionistic view of Peter, and so the clips they played don't always reflect the year of which they are speaking, as in #6 below also.}

5. The reason Bob Marley never received a Grammy is because the reggae Grammy was not given until 1985, four years after Bob died. Therefore, he never received a Grammy because there was no Grammy to receive.

6.The '78 tour with the Stones featured Tosh backed by Sly & Robbie, yet the footage almost all comes from the November 1982 Montego Bay World Music Festival, when Tosh was backed by Santa Davis and Fully Fullwood. {See 4 above}

7. Finally, the folks I saw the "sneak preview" with all laughed when the narrator pronouned His Majesty's name as "Holly" Selassie. Even accounting for his New York accent (e.g. "frush-tration"), it just sounds funny. How hard is it to say "highly"? Since I make the bulk of my living as a film narrator, I am especially sensitive to these things.

Otherwise my feelings are almost all positive about this attempt. Several correspondents were impressed that VH1 didn't cut my remarks about all the white man's vices being legal, while herb remains proscribed. I thought Stephen Davis did a brilliant job of putting Peter's life into focus, and Wayne Jobson gave a heartfelt look at a lifelong friend who definitely had his inconsistencies. Futher, they could have focused on Tosh's obsession with duppies and didn't. The program should certainly reignite a much needed look at Peter's life and career among fans who seem largely to have forgotten the formidable role Peter played in the Wailers as musician, writer and larger-than-life totem of rebellion and justice.

One Love,

Roger

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