Andrew Tosh, the tall, slender third son and virtual carbon copy of reggae legend Peter Tosh has been predicted to carry on the family’s musical tradition since first gaining recognition with a powerful performance at his father’s funeral in 1987.
He’s been delighting audiences across the world with his brilliant live sets and Grammy-nominated recordings which, although influenced by his father, are very much in his own brilliant style.
Born on June 19, 1967 in Kingston, Jamaica, Andrew and his father Peter would sing songs together – not just Peter’s militant compositions, but also pop classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Kenny Rogers. Andrew notes that “Peter always knew I would do something in the music business, so he encouraged me to study piano, ’cause he knew I loved it. From the start it was inside me to sing and play instruments.”
The first song he learned was PeterTosh’ composition “You Can’t Blame the Youth,” and from that point forward, he says, “I knew that my heartbeat was music and one day it would just be music out of my mouth, and writing and singing my own songs.”
Throughout his elementary and high school days in Duhaney Park on the outskirts of Kingston, Andrew was constantly pulled to the forefront of the class and made to sing lead. At 14, in emulation of his father, Andrew began to ride a unicycle too.
Although Peter was often on the road, performing tours that remain to this day reggae’s most lengthy and successful ones, Andrew spent much of his childhood living in Peter’s house, especially between the critical ages of 12 and 15.
Andrew Tosh’s first recording came in 1985, when he recorded a song he wrote called “Vanity Lover” for Neville Lee’s Gorgon label. A keen observer of the vibrant music scene in Kingston, Andrew was checking out some of the new talent at that city’s famous Skateland dancehall on the evening his father was murdered – Friday,
September 11, 1987.
“I felt my father’s spirit come right there at Skateland where I was,” he says, “and the spirit said leave that place right now.” The impact of the elder Tosh’s passing made an immediate and life-changing impression. “I tell myself that Peter Tosh is gone and it’s my need to carry on. Not for want, and not for the lust of fame and the glamor and want to be rich. No, for the love of my art and the love of my people, because love carry no color. Love is love and that’s what Jah say, make a joyful noise unto Me.”
The first glimpse the public got of Andrew’s nascent talent came when he sang at his father’s funeral in the National Arena in Kingston. His version of Peter’s “Jah Guide” stunned the mourners. “I was astonished myself on stage,” he recalls. “The other song I did was ‘Equal Rights,’ because everyone is crying out for peace but none is crying out for justice. When I came down off the stage, I couldn’t stop crying.”
Late the following year, he tested the international waters with a pair of memorable performances in southern California, including a show-stopping turn on the stage of Burbank’s Starlight Amphitheater, the site of the final appearance together of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. “I felt elevension,” he laughs, engaging in some of the crafty wordplay for which his father was notorious. “It was way beyond tension.”
From that point, Andrew began working under the guidance of keyboardist Keith Sterling and his band mates, Fully Fullwood and Santa Davis, the bass and drum team from Peter’s most ferocious backing group, Word Sound and Power. Andrew began to tour, wowing audiences in Europe as well as North and South America. He has been especially successful in Brazil, where he has appeared several times in Sao Paulo, Rio, and Curitiba.
His first album, Original Man, was a mixture of his tracks and those of his father. The follow-up, Make Place for the Youth, indicated a new maturity to his songwriting, and was well received, earning him a Grammy nomination.
He produced a major tribute to his father, (executive-produced by Bunny Wailer), called Andrew Sings Tosh.
* Original Man (Attack, 1987)
* Make Place For The Youth (Tomato, 1989)
* Message From Jah (Dressed to Kill, 2000)
* Andrew Tosh (Dressed to Kill, 2001)
* Andrew Sings Tosh: He Never Died (Paras, 2004)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.