Peter Tosh :: The Legend of the Steppin’ Razor

peter-tosh-keith-richards.jpgI have no idea if the following (urban) legend, regarding Peter Tosh, is true, and it really doesn’t matter, because even if pure myth, it illustrates my point either way.

The story goes that Peter Tosh’s relationship with The Rolling Stones soured. both professionally and personally, due to Tosh’s refusal to leave Keith Richards’ Jamaican home after crashing there with an entourage, for months on end, while the British guitarist was away on tour.

Allegedly when Richards got “tough” and demanded Tosh and company pack it up, Tosh pulled a gun on Richards to prove his point that he had no intention on leaving. Exit one Keith Richards.

Like I said, I have no clue if such a story is true, half true, or utter rubbish, but it goes to show that Tosh cultivated a persona of one nots to be fucked with. Whether through his lyrics, his troubles with the government, police beatings, very candid interviews, and ultimate murder, Tosh lived his life on the edge garnering himself the nickname “steppin’ razor.”

While he did not write the tune that became his namesake (that distinction goes to Jamaican artist Joe Higgs) the song was made popular by the Tosh’s original band with Marley, The Wailers, and of course later recorded by Tosh himself on the Equal Rights LP.

That being said, I’ve always felt knowing the background of Tosh’s life added an extra punch to the lyrics, even if the track does begin with that super-dated ’70s electric guitar opener.

Peter Tosh :: Steppin’ Razor
Amazon: Peter Tosh – Equal Rights

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14 thoughts on “Peter Tosh :: The Legend of the Steppin’ Razor

  1. Apocryphal, perhaps, but if there is any truth in the tale the most plausible scenario, i think, is that Keith Richard (note the absence of the “S”) simply welched on a prior financial agreement, as legendary as is both the Stones guitarist’s stinginess and Peter Tosh’s burning sense of grievance in the aftermath of Marley’s solo success.

    Ah, would be that Tosh snarled “This one’s for Brian, fucker…” as he levelled the gun at the strung-out junkie with the myriad off-shore bank accounts. That’s what happens when you jive with real bad-ass motherfuckers. Cardboard piracy for sure.

  2. I’ve actually read a few different sources on this tale, and it is true – but not exactly how you laid it out. From what I’ve read, the confrontation never took place face to face but over the phone. Keith arrived on the island for a little vacation and phoned up to the house to let Tosh know he’s going to need the house. Tosh flat out refused and said if Keith came to the house he could expect getting knifed. Keith told him to fuck off and said if he was still there when he got to the house, he’d be looking down the barrel of Keith’s gun. When Keith arrived, the house was empty.

  3. Seriously doubt Peter pulled a gun on Kieth….I’ve heard this story before…a misunderstanding on when Kieth was supposed to come back off tour…that’s all

  4. Peter was a MUCH nicer person than he is portrayed in the press. I suggest not to believe everything you read about him.

  5. We’re talking about nearly 35 years ago, and “one side of this story” was, of course, murdered nearly 24 years ago. But the story I was told, which allegedly came from “the Keith Richard side of things,” (but from someone who had known Peter, too) was that Keith had offered Peter use of his house in Ocho Rios, and at some time, Peter decided to take him up on it. I was told that it was not just Peter who moved in, but also at least one pet goat, who proceeded to gnaw at much of the super-expensive furnishings in the lavish house (allegedly, the goat also ate a lot of vegetation grown on the island and favored by Peter, and perhaps that made the goat that much hungrier?) Someone popped by the house (allegedly, another rock musician from Britain) and saw the goat damage, which prompted phone calls to Keith, whom apparently then phoned Peter in a major state of rage. Peter allegedly was rather blase about it all, explaining that it was a very sweet goat, and he would never live without it. Apparently, Keith made some sort of threat to come and shoot both Peter and the goat if he didn’t leave, Peter made a retaliatory threat but then laughed it off, and then moved out (with the goat). Keith eventually returned to Ocho Rios, found his house in less than pristine condition, and apparently still (to this day) goes very quiet whenever Peter’s name is even mentioned.

  6. peter tosh will never pull a gun at nobody.reading about him,one could easily come to a conclusion that he was a very nice person and a clean artist.

  7. I worked for a sound company and did tours with the Stones AND several Reggae groups. I did several stops with groups Tosh played with. My best ( worst ) memory of his antics and attitude is as fresh as when it happened. He was stoned ALL the time. He used LOTS of amphetamines and cocaine. He did not buy it – he always bummed off others. He was RUDE and obnoxious. He cut a girl with a knife because she would not ‘perform’ on him. He was almost always late. He cursed others for no good reason and drank profusely before, during and after recording and playing gigs. I found him to be a very unlikeable character and I would surely believe any stories about him behaving terribly. I think Keith SHOULD have had him shot !

  8. in response to tim.

    prove who you are? cos anyone can make up that bumbaclaat! and anyway i personally think it was a mistake for tosh to get involved with dem crazy baldheads he was a legend in his own right and a far better musician. RIP Peter!

  9. further comment. how come i’ve never heard about this forementioned terrible behaviour? i’ve done alot of research on tosh and i have never heard it from anyone else except you tim. i reckon he probably dissed you because you tried to bum a spliff off him tim.

  10. The story CHW tells is the correct one. Keith was away on tour and had lent the house to Tosh. He could not reach Tosh by phone for some time and finally did reach him from somewhere in Jamaica. He told Tosh that he would be arriving soon and needed the house back. Tosh refused and told Keith he would shoot him if he showed up. Keith said “you better know how to use that thing you little b*tch, because I’ll be there in half an hour”. When Keith arrived, Tosh and his friends were gone and the house trashed.

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