Andrew Tosh, son of reggae legend Peter Tosh, remembers vividly (as you'd expect) the day his father was murdered. "I was performing at a party at the same time," he says in an interview from his home in Kingston, Jamaica. "I was just singing a song, and someone came and said my father had been shot. I went outside and saw that the sky was red like blood, and then I heard on the news that he had passed away. It's been more than 30 years, but I'm still dealing with it."
Tosh Sr., also known to many as Bob Marley's partner in the iconic band The Wailers, was murdered on September 11, 1987, by a gang of criminals who infiltrated his home, tortured him for hours and attempted to rob him. When they failed to get what they wanted, the criminals shot a marker, bringing about the end of a legend in his field.
The son, Andrew, performed two songs at his father's funeral, and has since pursued a long solo career. As part of it, he will arrive in Israel for the first time, for a performance at the "Children of Israel Unite" festival. Other performers at the festival include Aifa Jarni, son of Ras Benji (who was also associated with Marley and is considered one of the founders of the Rastafarian movement); and Boom Danavan Green, son of percussionist Bongo Eddie (who played with Marley for years). And while there are the sons of legendary musicians trying to escape the shadow left by their parents, Andrew adopts the family lineage.
Andrew Tosh, Photo: Oezcan Oya
"I 100% embrace my father's message. If it wasn't for my father, I wouldn't be me," he says. "It's all about expectations. People expect you to bypass your parents – but you just have to be you, be yourself as an individual. I don't think I've ever had a problem finding my identity. Already in school I learned to play the piano, and there, at a young age, I found my musical 'weapon.'"
As a groundbreaking musician, Peter Tosh was also a controversial person who often spoke out on human rights. Unlike his co-creator Bob, he saw no point in slogans of love and brotherhood and preferred to talk about issues of social justice. "I'm not interested in peace, I want equal rights and justice," he said onstage, wearing a keffiyeh and holding a Kalashnikov-shaped guitar. "The Palestinians also want equal rights and justice," he added.
Your father was pro-Palestinian, and also supported a cultural boycott of Israel. What would he think about you choosing to perform here?
"My father was supposed to come to Israel, and he didn't get to fulfill that commitment. So I'll definitely be the one to get to do that, and spread his message. Music should not separate people. Her job is to connect people - mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I know he was pleased with the fact that I was coming to spread his message."
As a child, you got to be a fly on the wall in the personal and creative encounters of some of the most important forces in music history. What memories do you have of that time?
"I have very fun memories. For example, when the police beat my father for using cannabis in Jamaica. I went home with him, and Bob Marley came there with his friends and they had a big party. Bonnie Weiler was my uncle, and in the summer Dad would take us to visit his farm, and I could see the Wailers making their music."
The festival will take place June 16-15 at Selina Kinneret.
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