Babylon By Bike


Peter had a love for unicycles or "inicyles" as he called them. He also had a large collection of unicycles and would often be seen riding his unicycle downtown through the streets of Jamaica. Peter was an imposing figure, standing more than 6 feet tall, rather lanky and gangly and so to see the 6 foot plus rastaman riding through the streets of Kingston was a sight to be seen. The unicycle was great for cruising the streets, being able to maintain a steady speed, making travelling on foot a thing of the past.

No one is quite sure when Peter's interest in unicycles first began, one would guess that it was after his split from the Wailers as Peter had made no mention or reference to unicycles whilst with the group. It is also not certain what sparked Peter's interest in them either, was it the unusuality of them, complexity, uniqueness or was it Peter's way of gaining attention, gaining the limelight to spread his message? After all not too many other musicians travelled by one wheel, by doing so this made Peter stand out even further.

Or was Peter's interest in the unicycle down to being in complete control of his own destiny?

Peter not only took to the streets with his unicycle though. He went every where with his unicycle, riding through Babylon by bike.

Riding a unicycle is a lot tougher than it looks, Peter had great balance, and had a great deal of elogance and so able to master this art, and so the wheel became an extension of his legs, as much as a spliff became an extension of his mouth or a guitar of his arm. There is a wide variation of athletic fitness, balance perception, and reaction time involved when learning to ride a unicycle.

The unicycle had been all over the world with Tosh and seemed emblematic of its owner's stance in a dangerous world: precarious yet balanced, eccentric but uniquely upright.

On a number of occassions Peter would ride his unicycle onstage much to the delight of the fans on hand. Peter would zoom from one side of the stage to the other before stopping and parking at the microphone where he would start to sing still perched atop his bike. Microphone in hand Peter would continue to sing whilst free-wheeling across the stage.

His unicycle proved a hot topic of conversation during interviews too, many journalists intrigued by Peter's interest in the "one wheel bike". On a number of occassions Peter would demonstrate his unique talents by hopping on his unicycle and riding around, back and forth, side to side. One such incident took place in 1983 on MTV, Peter was promoting his latest album Mama Africa, he wheeled into the studio on his bike, talked for a few minutes about the album and then wheeled out of the studio.

Tosh was not just content in cycling forward, he even mastered the art of cycling backwards and a number of other tricks. Peter obviously spent a great deal of time riding and practising, he became a master and in 1980 he showcased some of his tricks and other skills for a Austrian TV station.

Peter also had a love for other bikes too, especially the penny-farthing which had a large front wheel and a small front wheel, this is where the design of the unicycle is rumoured to have come from. Peter had a great interest in all cycles, no matter how many wheels and collected a number of unusual cycles.

In 1983 during Peter's historic concert in Swaziland spent most of his free time in his hotel lobby wheeling around on his unicycle conversing with onlooking guests in awe at Peter's agility.

Peter's oldest son Andrew inherited Peter's passion for the unicycle and carries on the Tosh tradition of riding a unicycle around onstage. Continuing to spread his fathers words on one wheel.