This piece of history (M16 guitar) should be in a museum - Copeland Forbes



petertosh-M16-Guitar.jpgDear all journalists and Reggae music lovers

Sorry I'm not in Jamaica now as I'm in Europe making plans for my 45th anniversary celebrations tours that I'll be staging in 2007.
Love World Tour which will play the US, Europe, Japan and 5 shows in
South Africa, the all-female tour, the Icons Of The Dancehall Tour and the Children Of The Stars Tour.

I read an article yesterday (nov-16-06,jamaica gleaner) one of Jamaica's local news papers that Peter Tosh's famous M16 guitar
will be put on auction somewhere in Canada, this I cant believe. It was I who bought that guitar from a fan who custom made it specially for Peter and brought it to the Franklyn Plaza Suite hotel in Los Angeles where Peter and his group Word Sound and Power were staying on our stop in Los Angeles when Tosh played the famous Greek Theatre during the Mama Africa World Tour 1983.

During our stay at the hotel a young reggae fan came to the hotel and
asked to see Peter Tosh, the front desk clerk then called me in my room as I was then the manager of Tosh and said that a fan wanted to see Peter, I then spoke to the fan on the house phone and he told me that he had a special gift for Peter which he personally made for the Bush Doctor, I then came downstairs to the lobby and met this fan who was so overwhelmed to be speaking to the manager of Peter Tosh. In his hand he clutched this guitar which was in the shape of a M16 Rrifle he told me that because Peter was a freedom fighter and he thought that Peter's music was the weapon to free africans and trample down apartheid he personally built this guitar for him as he figured that Peter's music was the weapon to do the job and the song Coming In Hot, Hot, Hot, Firing Musical Shot Shot Shot was the song he liked and he thought that since Peter can't use a real gun to fight hence the guitar in the shape of a M16 rifle would send the message musically.

I was so taken aback with this fan expression and thoughts that I decided to take him and his gift up to Peter's room as I knew that Peter would be very excited to see such an instrument. The moment I walked into Peter's room and he saw the instrument his expression to me was 'wait, a whey yu get that bum....b....claat from, I mmediately inthroduced the young fan and told him that this fan had one of the most interesting statement to make and instantly the young fan handed him the guitar and told him the reason why he made it and what he thought of Peter's music. Peter immeditately called his guitarist Donald Kinsey to come to his room to witness his new musical weapon. Kinsey came and the minute he walked into Peter's room he saw Peter
pointing an instrument in the shape of a M16 rifle at him and Peter
said to Kinsey, "Donald a now I a go kill dem pirates deh",

Kinsey was so shocked at the sight of this guitar and took it from Peter and starting playing it. Kinsey's remarked was that its a great piece of work and craft and proceeded to make a few adjustments on the fret board and the strings.

The fact that the shape of the guitar was so unique and there was no guitar case that this guitar could fit in Peter told me to go to SIR instrument shop and order a custom built case to be made immediately for his new musical weapon. I offered to pay the guy for the guitar but he refused to take any money for it all he said he wanted was an autograph from the Bush Doctor so he could go back to his home town and show his friends that he met the great Peter Tosh. I insisted that he took the money but he kept on refusing the finnancial offer, I literally had to push the money in his pocket and held on to his hands as he tried to push his hand in his pocket to give me back
the money. After a little fun struggle with the fan by me holding on to both his hands preventing him from retreiving the money from his pocket the elated fan finally gave up and accepted the money by leaving it in his pocket.

When the Mama Africa Tour moved over to Europe the airline had lost the guitar and it could not be found, I immediately called our P R and press agent Charley Comer in New York and told him the bad news. Comer an Irish man who was a great lover of Peter's music immediately placed an article in the top German magazine "Der Spiegel' about the lost guitar and who the owner was, by the next day the guitar was found and Peter was now a happy man again.

I can remember during his performance that night in Germany at the
Sunshine Festival when he took it up to play it and he looked at Donald Kinsey and smiled and gave me a nod as I was standing on the side of the stage I could see how happy he was as he strummed along playing his famous wah wah sound on his guitar effect rack.

In December of the same year the Mama Africa Tour went to Swaziland for second concert performances and as soon as the intro of the song 'Fight Gainst Aparthaeid" was heard Peter took up his M16 guitar and started playing, the entire stadium of over 30,000 fans erupted in screams and shouts of 'freedom freedom freedom. The security forces were so amazed at the sight of such an instrument that they started speaking in different african languages, a way in which we couldn't understand what they were saying.

Within five minutes the over 5000 fans who were outside the stadium who could not afford the small entrance fee of $5usd to get in, heard about Peter's M16 guitar and the irated fans began to climb the walls of the stadium while some proceeded to push the gate which came down in no time and those elated fans literally invaded the vip section and pandomonium broke out while the very tight Word Sound and Power band belted out the reggae african anthem of south africa'We gonna fight fight fight fight gainst apartheid. This concert went down
as the most well attended concert in the history of Swaziland until this very day.

Now after this brief history of this famous instrument of one of our
musical freedom fighters Peter Tosh and to hear that this instrument will be put on an auction in Canada, I asked myself where are the administrators of the Peter Tosh Estate. This piece of history should be in a museum in Jamaica where visitors can come and see the weapon that the great musical freedom fighter PETER TOSH used in Southern Africa to help fight the fight to tear down apartheid. Where are the administrators of the Peter Tosh estate this is the property of Peter Tosh, this is the property of his 10 children, this is the property of Miss Alvira Cooke (peter's mother who's still alive) in Westmoreland and last but not least where are the Jamaican people and those who now enjoy and live an apartheid free life.'IT'S
ASHAME, IT'S ASHAME, IT'S ASHAME to treat a great son of the soil of this great country Jamaica who suffered quite a lot of humilation for his country,his culture, his people and most of all this great music called REGGAE MUSIC..Please save Peter's legacy, save Peter's name and most of all save our music and our country.

Copeland Forbes

(Extract from the soon to be released book "Reggae My Life Is"

Written by
Copeland Forbes