Finally, reggae fans making the pilgrimage to Kingston–recently named an official UNESCO Creative City of Music–have more to see than the city’s Bob Marley museum: at the beginning of this month, a new Peter Tosh museum opened its doors in the Jamaican capital.
Born outside of Kingston in rural Westmoreland, Jamaica in 1944, Tosh came to prominence in the burgeoning Jamaican reggae scene in the mid-60’s as a member of The Wailers. After his generally abrasive and stubborn views and demeanor resulted in a split with The Wailers in 1973, Tosh released his seminal debut album Legalize It in 1976. Upon its release, the Jamaican government quickly banned the album, which only helped catapult the music and its radical message to worldwide notoriety. Today, “Legalize It” remains a universally known rallying cry for marijuana advocates.
The museum was spearheaded by entrepreneur Kingsley Cooper creator of the Jamaican Music Awards and owner of Pulse Modeling Agency, and is located on the Pulse complex in New Kingston’s busy business district. Ahead of the museum’s opening, Cooper explained that he bonded with the singer while promoting what turned out to be Tosh’s final performance in 1987. The idea for a Peter Tosh Museum is something that he had wanted to pursue ever since, but took until now to come to fruition as he worked to secure both financial backing and the full support of Tosh’s estate.
Says Cooper, “Tosh was a visionary, a man before his time. He wasn’t just a musician; he had very strong philosophical views on issues such as equal rights and the apartheid struggle, the legalization of marijuana and his whole uncompromising stance on certain matters, and he was prepared to take a beating for what he believed in. We want people to leave with a deeper appreciation for someone who is not only unique and outstanding Jamaican; he was a citizen of the world who has given so much to the whole world and we see that now with the international coverage of the opening of the museum… it tells you how far his reach was and the impact he had.”
Although the museum is relatively small, its contents are tastefully presented, covering a surprising amount of ground. As you enter, there is an overview of Tosh’s turbulent youth, his involvement with The Wailers, his subsequent gravitation to the Rastafari faith, and the life-changing car accident that resulted in the death of his girlfriend Evonne in 1973. His solo years are then explored at length, including memorabilia like the golden microphones he received as a gift from friend and Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger. Tosh’s coveted Grammy, received for his final studio album No Nuclear War, is given pride of place (it was reportedly retrieved from a Massachusetts pawn shop following its unauthorized sale), and the fabled M16 machine gun-shaped guitar that Tosh used to wield as a musical weapon on stage. The final section, which covers Tosh’s senseless murder in 1987, relays the information of the tragedy with appropriate sensitivity.
The Peter Tosh Museum is open to visitors in Kingston now.
[via The Guardian]