I always had a zeal for this business of music. After graduating University where I majored in communication and minored in the Music Business, I jumped right in as a promotion assistant at Epic Record~and a short time later moving up to a product manager at Columbia Records (Sony) and eventually landing as head of the Black Music Marketing department at East/West Elektra Records under the guidance and tutelage of the only Black woman at that time to head a major record label, Sylvia Rhone. I was living my dream~working and developing the careers of artists once unknown ~ to superstar status. But I also had another parallel passion. And that was to take the music of my heritage, reggae, and position it in the international/mainstream arena. So my journey took me far and wide in the musical spectrum. For instance, I worked with a little known group from L.A. named Cypress Hill; two little boys who liked to wear their clothes backwards and the entire Ruffhouse label that later produced the Fugees and so many others. But I also worked with a DJ(that’s what we call MC’s in Jamaica) named SuperCat who we positioned to a mainstream audience without ever losing his foundation. I later went on to work with Ziggy Marley (this came some years after the encounter described in this blog), Terror Fabulous, Snow (don’t laugh), Nadine Sutherland and many others.
To say I was “ready” when I got “the call” from the wife of Peter Tosh…is an understatement. I can’t remember what his wife (Sister Marlene) was working on at the time. It could have been a foundation~or possibly a release of some catalog material~possibly even developing her own career. I don’t remember. All I remember was that I scheduled a meeting with the wife of legendary Wailer, Peter Tosh. I remember preparing a small portfolio of my work. I remember being in AWE of the possibility of meeting the “Stepping Razor” himself. Almost everything else is a dreamland fog. Prior to this, the closest I came to a Wailer was Madison Square Garden when Bob Marley opened for the Commodores. My brother and I sat on either side of my Mother and watched with binoculars a spectacular show while trying to enhale as much as we could. So the idea of actually coming close to Peter Tosh (via his wife) was all I needed to send me into a state of utter excitement. Now I must remind myself (as I get excited just writing and thinking about it), my appointment was NOT with Peter Tosh. I didn’t even know if he was in town or even in the country for that matter. My appointment was with the wife of a legend but my mind was firmly on him. My imagination was colorful and sent me deep into the abyss of …”what ifs”. And there I went ~”What if Peter was there”, “What if he wanted to talk about the music business and me managing him” I always dream big. What if, What if, What If.
So armed with a bag of “what if’s” I proceeded to his apartment on West 90 something street. It was one of those apartment buildings where you have to be announced by the doorman or clerk. The doorman called up stairs. I wanted to KNOW before I went upstairs if Peter answered. I wanted to know if he was home. But I didn’t want to be mistaken for some stalker of overzealous fan as I am sure this doorman has dealt with many a time. So I said nothing.
So the doorman said “its okay to go up”. I can’t remember the floor. But I remember how I felt. Great anticipation. By this time in my life I had met or worked with or interacted with or personally learned from some of the major cultural/historical icons of our times. But this is the closest that I had come to the Bob Marley and the Wailers legacy.
So there I was. I rang the doorbell and his wife Sister Marlene answered. We walked into the living room and sat. I looked around coyly for some sign of Peter. I listened for other footsteps and heard nothing. So we talked. I can’t even remember what about. Cause you KNOW where my mind was. Lord please forgive me for not being focused. I did my best. Then as if out of nowhere came this giant of a man. He had to be close to 7 feet. It seemed like he had to duck just to walk from room to room. Sister Marlene introduced me as a record company exec and radio personality/ With little expression but with a feeling of deep love he nodded and walked into the other room. He may have said something. I can’t remember. I was wide awake in a dream. He was the epitome of quiet fire. I would hear the fire side in a few minutes. So Sister Marlene and I continued our meeting and the doorbell rings. Peter answers the door. I hear a deliveryman uttering something about his TV. Within a matter of a few seconds I heard Peter talking about “bumbo clat TV, and how dem better have it fixed properly, etc, etc.” From where I was, I could neither see Peter or the deliveryman. I could only hear the conversation. If you would call it that. A few minutes later I heard what sounded like the running feet of the deliveryman racing to the elevator. It was obvious that Peter was not the one that you wanted to argue with.
Few minutes later peace returned and the smell of the good collie weed filled the air.