In 1984, after the release of 1983’s album Mama Africa, Tosh went into self-imposed exile, seeking the spiritual advice of traditional medicine men in Africa, and trying to free himself from recording agreements that distributed his records in South Africa. Tosh had been at odds for several years with his label, EMI, over a perceived lack of promotion for his music.
Tosh also participated in the international opposition to South African apartheid by appearing at Anti-Apartheid concerts and by conveying his opinion in various songs like “Apartheid” (1977, re-recorded 1987), “Equal Rights” (1977), “Fight On” (1979), and “Not Gonna Give It Up” (1983).
In 1991 Stepping Razor – Red X was released, a documentary film by Nicholas Campbell, produced by Wayne Jobson and based upon a series of spoken-word recordings of Tosh himself, which chronicled the story of the artist’s life, music and untimely death. In 1987, Peter Tosh seemed to be having a career revival. He was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Performance in 1987 for No Nuclear War, his last record.
At some point after his departure from the Wailers, Tosh developed an interest in unicycles; he became a unicycle rider, being able to ride forwards and backwards and hop. He often amused his audiences by riding onto the stage on his unicycle for his shows. His teacher for unicycling was Kelly Carrigan. They rode side by side for years.
On 11 September 1987, just after Tosh had returned to his home in Jamaica, a three-man gang came to his house demanding money.Tosh replied that he did not have any with him but the gang did not believe him. They stayed at his residence for several hours and tortured him in an attempt to extort money from Tosh.
During this time, Tosh’s associates came to his house to greet him because of his return to Jamaica. As people arrived, the gunmen became more and more frustrated, especially the chief thug, Dennis “Leppo” Lobban, a man whom Tosh had previously befriended and tried to help find work after a long jail sentence.
Tosh said he did not have any money in the house, after which Lobban put a gun to Tosh’s head and shot once, killing him. The other gunmen began shooting, wounding several other people and also killing disc jockeys Doc Brown and Jeff “Free I” Dixon.
Leppo surrendered to the authorities. He was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted in 1995 and he remains in jail. The other two gunmen were never identified by name.
In October 2012 Tosh was posthumously awarded Jamaica’s third highest honour, the Order of Merit.
In 1983, at the Los Angeles stop on Tosh’s Mama Africa tour, a local musician named Bruno Coon went to the hotel at which Tosh was staying, claiming to have a gift for him. The gift was a custom-built guitar in the shape of an M16 rifle.
Tosh accepted the gift personally. The guitar was subsequently lost by the airlines when the tour went to Europe but was recovered when Tosh’s public relations agent placed an article about its loss in Der Spiegel. Tosh went on to perform on stage with the guitar.
In 2006, it was announced by the promoters of the Flashpoint Film Festival that the guitar would be auctioned on eBay by Tosh’s common-law wife Andrea “Marlene” Brown.
Tosh’s sons, Andrew Tosh, and Jawara McIntosh, prevented the sale, claiming ownership of the guitar. In 2011, Andrew Tosh, said that the guitar was in the custody of a close friend, awaiting the opening of a museum dedicated to Peter Tosh.
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