The Speech Jamaica Forgot – Tosh’s One Love Peace Concert Performance Overlooked

Peter Tosh is renown and revered for a
number of songs, many with rebellious bent. Among Tosh’s better known
tracks are Legalise It, Fight Apartheid, Stepping Razor, Equal Rights,
Creation and Johnny B Goode.

However, there is one track, over
seven minutes long, which was not recorded in a studio which made Tosh a
legend. It was made on April 22, 1978, at the National Stadium during
the landmark One Love Peace Concert.

It is a concert from which
the most enduring image is Bob Marley entwining his hand with those of
then Prime Minister Michael Manley and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga in
what turned out to be a futile peace gesture – and which earned Marley a
peace medal.

During his performance Tosh abandoned the song at
two points and gave speeches in which he addressed multiple ills of the
society – apartheid, marijuana, Jamaican ‘politricks,’ ‘bad word’ laws,
the whole ‘s-tstem,’ nuclear weapons. And more marijuana. It is the
second speech, before the closing Legalise It/Get Up, Stand Up, which had the greater impact.

And,
by some reckoning, it resulted in a physical impact on Tosh, as he was
soundly whipped by the police at Half-Way Tree Police Station a few
months after, in an incident which escalated after Tosh was accosted by a plain-clothes officer while he was smoking a spliff.

Track listing

The speech is a highlight of the 2000 JAD Records release Peter Tosh Live at the One Love Peace Concert. The track listing is Igziabeher, 400 Years, Stepping Razor, Intro Rap, Burial/Speech, Equal Rights, Speech and Legalize It/Get Up Stand Up.

Speaking
in between songs was not new to Tosh, but the occasion 34 years ago was
special. Bob Marley had been encouraged to return from England, where
he had gone after being shot ahead of the 1976 Smile Jamaica concert. 

It
was also two years after Tosh had released his debut solo album, the
acclaimed Legalise It, and the concert was to be attended by
Manley and Seaga, along with the top brass of the People’s National
Party and Jamaica Labour Party.

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While Tosh’s speech has been
largely overlooked, the concert’s performers outside of Marley and Tosh
have been virtually forgotten. The line-up was The Meditations, Althea
and Donna (of Uptown Top Ranking fame), Dilinger, The Mighty Diamonds,
Culture, Dennis Brown, Trinity, Leroy Smart, Jacob Miller/Inner Circle,
Big Youth, Beres Hammond, Tosh, Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus and
Bob Marley and The Wailers.

Of those, singers Joseph ‘Culture’ Hill, Dennis Brown, Tosh and Marley have all died.

Small
parts of Tosh’s One Love Concert Speech, which is widely available
online, cannot be printed in newspaper – and is much better heard in his
voice, anyway.

However, he starts out by targeting copyright
issues (“Talking bout pirate, you all have some likkle pirate now weh
come from Merica an’ all bout wid dem camera an dem TV business fi do
wah? Get rich offa I an I) and closes with caustic commentary on
mortality (“So if oonu waan go a heaven a fi oonu business. 

I will be
here a billion years!).
And one of the topics he addresses is as
relevant now as it was 34 years ago, as Tosh said “I am not a
politician, but I suffer the consequences”.

jamaica-gleaner.com/ 

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