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Peter Tosh: 30 years after the iconoclast - Festus Adedayo

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Exactly 30 years ago, reggae music and indeed the world, lost iconic maestro, poet, philosopher and a staunch defender of African rights, Winston Hubert MclnTosh, popularly known as Peter Tosh. Three gunmen, led by Dennis “Leppo” Lobban, one of Tosh’s ‘boys’ whom he sustained as part of the communal Rastafarian injunction of brotherly co-existence, had stormed his house at Barbican Road residence, St Andrew, Jamaica at about 7.30pm on this day. Within a twinkle of an eye, the gunmen had put a full stop to the 42-years of existence of a man who, with two others, Robert Nesta Marley and Neville O’Riley (Bunny Livingston), pioneered what is today a genre of music called reggae, ensuring its mutation from ska music. 

Tosh had, on September 11, 1997 just returned to Jamaica from a US business trip and was relaxing by watching a TV satellite show at home with his common law live-in-lover, Marlene Brown when the gunmen struck. The Jamaican court was to later rule that the attackers were on an armed robbery expedition. Two others were killed in that encounter, namely famous Rastafarian broadcaster and disc jockey with the defunct Jamaican Broadcasting Service, Jeff Dixon, also known as Free I and one other visitor to the house named Wilton Brown.

Free I’s wife, co-guests Michael Robinson and Santa Davis, survived but Tosh’s wife had a bullet lodged in her skull.

At first, talks were rife that Marley’s wife, Rita who controlled his estate, had a hand in Tosh’s murder as the original Wailing Wailers friends of Marley made a legal claim to his multi-million dollar Tuff Gong studio on Hope Street in Kingston. This was exacerbated by interviews granted by the lone survivor of the triumvirate, Bunny who accused Rita of being a Jezebel and that Peter was actually sleeping with her while married to Bob.

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