Peter Tosh’s former manager Copeland Forbes is counting his blessings after a near-fatal accident which he said occurred at Junior Reid’s 60th anniversary concert, at Plantation Cove in St Ann on Saturday night.
In two Facebook posts, Forbes detailed the mishap in his usual very descriptive story-telling fashion, the first with photos of himself at the event with vocalist Rochelle Bradshaw and OnStage TV host Winford Williams, which he described as “the calm before the near-fatal storm”.
The Reggae My Life Is author recalled that the mishap occurred during Julian and Stephen Marley’s performance only minutes after they greeted him and began what he described as a “magnificent performance.”
“Behind Stephen were an entourage of his close associates and personal security who proceeded to take up their posts at different parts of the stage. I decided to move from the top of the stairs and found a very cozy section on the far side of the monitor mixing board on the left of Engineer Noel Hearn who did a splendid job on the stage. Then suddenly one of Stephen’s security moved to stage left of the monitor so I stepped back out of the way so that he could reach his position,” Forbes noted.
“To my surprise when I stepped back to give him room to get to his designated post, not knowing that the tarpaulin on the side of the monitor area had no backing or re-enforcement, I stepped back in mid air. Going down backwards without seeing where the drop would be wasn’t a nice experience which could have been fatal. While going down backwards I grabbed on to the tarpaulin to at least make the invisible drop lighter, the tarpaulin gave way,” he continued.
As he continued his vivid account of the incident, the iconic artist manager, who in the past administered the musical affairs and tours of some of Reggae’s biggest icons, added: “Then I felt my right hand hit one of the metal brace that supports the stage, then my left had hit another metal brace so hard that my $750 usd Invicta watch was torn apart from my wrist. Still haven’t found that watch up until now.”
Forbes, who has been in Jamaica promoting his long-awaited memoir, Reggae My Life Is, said he received great assistance from his Reggae compatriots who witnessed what had happened.
“Going down to the final landing place on the ground almost severed my head from my body and my upper part of my body from the lower part at the waist and my back. Hitting the final landing place without any vision and anything to make the landing softer threw me into a daze thinking my back was broken. Some folks who knew me rushed to aid me while I was hitting my head many times on the top of the underpath of the stage,” he said.
“Sister Carol who was a great comforter brought one of her personal chairs for me to sit on and try to regain my composer. Production manager Worrell King along with host Junior Reid, On Stage host Winford Williams and Julian Marley (who was shocked when he learnt about the near fatal incident. They all assisted me in walking to our vehicle which was not far from the stage as I was cringing in severe pain in my back.”
Forbes rued the fact though, that medical support was not available at the venue, and that he opted to fly to Florida, for treatment, after reconsidering getting medical care in Kingston, so he could be “well taken care of” before he continues his global trek which is to continue with a visit to Turkey and Greece with “stops in Italy”.
“Someone said ‘call the ambulance’ while I lay in the car, but even when the magnificent show ended no medical personnel was seen or heard from. Had to drive all the way back to Kingston with thoughts of heading to Andrew’s hospital, after going home to unload some stuff I had in my friend’s car I had another change of thought,” he noted.
“Instead of going to Andrew’s hospital as I’ve never experienced staying in a hospital in Jamaica, I decided to fly to Florida where I have a great insurance plan and know what I’ll be getting as far as medical attention without any hindrance on payments for medical services as I have seen take place b4 and read about… Will keep you all in the loop on my health progress and my Reggae My Life Is” journey, Jah Guide,” he added.
In his second post, Forbes, whose sojourn within the Jamaican music industry has been described as “long and colourful,” revealed the injuries he suffered and said he was in severe pain.
“Cringing in pain. Heading to Florida for treatment due to the near fatal accident at the Junior Reid’s 60th anniversary concert at Plantation Cove in St Ann. Folkes who bought the book Reggae My Life Is, at the airport wanted me to sign them even in the wheelchair heading to the gate,” he said.
“Just hope no broken bones on the inside as severe pains in my back, my neck, right hand which is swollen, and pulled muscles in the left leg. Pain, pain, pain and more pain all over my complete body. Must say special thanks to the security guards who took extra care of me from check in all the way to the plane door, ladies Muchas Gracias mi amigas,” he added.
Forbes entered the music industry at age 16 years old, as part of The Harmonicats and then formed the Coasters, a vocal and dance group in 1967, which went on to tour the United States and Canada. Later on, he became the lead singer of the Mighty Mistic band which he toured with for several years.
However, his biggest break came when he entered the amateur competitions at the Apollo Theatre in New York, and met American singer Johnny Nash, who asked him to be a dancer on the popular Soul Train, which he did for a few years.
He shelved his performing career when he got his first real managerial opportunity in 1972 as the road manager for The Wailers. Three years later in 1975 he managed The Mighty Diamonds, and later became personal assistant, then became road manager, tour manager and, eventually manager of Reggae legend Peter Tosh, which he has described as one of his greatest experiences.
Following Peter’s passing, he went on to manage Jimmy Cliff, Black Uhuru, Sly and Robbie, Third World, Dennis Brown, U-Roy, Marcia Griffiths, Frankie Paul, Morgan Heritage, I-Three and Luciano and also served as tour manager for many other huge names in Reggae, including Sizzla Kalonji, Ziggy Marley, Freddie McGregor, Beres Hammond, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Junior Reid, Sugar Minott, Mutabaruka, Half Pint and Maxi Priest.