In our previous mixtape we featured South African musicians covering South African songs. This time we focus on South African musicians covering foreign songs. Anyone familiar with live performers in South African restaurants and pubs will be all too familiar with the countless musicians plying overseas covers for a trade. Many a South African songwriter shakes their head in desperation at the thought of all the cover artists, trying to mimic the singers of the songs they cover, and taking the performance spaces potentially available to more original musicians. However, covers are not always a bad thing. Several musicians who mostly perform their own compositions also include some covers in their live sets or even record them as singles and on their albums. Most often these are viewed as interpretations – where they change the emphasis of the song or switch the song from one genre to another. At times musicians simply cover a song which they think will be a big hit if they adapt it to what seems popular in the current climate, or among their specific fans.
There are examples here which fit into all those categories. Interpreting songs is a very personal thing, and so rather than explain every song’s inclusion here, and fitting it into a particular category of cover, we have just listed the songs here, for you to listen to, think about, and perhaps explore further. We have included the names of the original performers in parenthesis, so that (in case you are not aware of the original) you can go back and listen, and think about the way it has been covered here. In case this sounds like a Musicology 101 course, we won’t ask you to write an essay. But please do leave comments about anything that grabs your attention. In the meantime … enjoy!
- Down On The Corner – Miriam Makeba (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
- The Voice Of Rage And Ruin – Kalahari Surfers (Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”)
- Build Me Up Buttercup – Mean Mr Mustard (The Foundations)
- Paint It Black – No Friends of Harry (The Rolling Stones)
- Into The Fire – Suck (Deep Purple)
- Fooled Around And Fell In Love – Julian Laxton Band (Elvin Bishop)
- Substitute – Clout (The Righteous Brothers)
- Why Did You Do It – Margaret Singana (Stretch)
- Living For The City – Disco Rock Machine (Stevie Wonder)
- Magic Carpet Ride – Buffalo (Steppenwolf)
- Take Me To The River – Mara Louw (Al Green)
- The Weight – Dan Patlansky (The Band)
- Fine Lines – Syd Kitchen (John Martyn)
- Somebody – Matthew van der Want (Depeche Mode)
- Walking In The Rain – Johannes Kerkorrel (Flash and the Pan)
- Wait – Chris Letcher (Lou Reed)
- Complicated Game – Peach (XTC)
- Beds Are Burning – TCIYF (Midnight Oil)
- When I Went Out One Morning – Tribe After Tribe (Bob Dylan)
- Ring Of Fire – Laurie Levine (Johnny Cash)
- Sugarman – Just Jinger (Rodriguez)
- Money Money Money – Karen Zoid (Abba)
- Sunday Morning Coming Down – Wonderboom (Kris Kristofferson)
- Control – Spoek Mathambo (Joy Division – “She’s Lost Control”)
- Heart Shaped Box – Goldfish & Julia Church (Nirvana)
The previous two mixtapes featured songs about roads and road trips respectively and in putting these together we got to thinking about how many South African musicians have died while travelling in their cars. Some of these accidents have taken place as the musicians have travelled to concerts while other accidents have been part of musicians’ day to day lives. In at least two instances – Gito Baloi and Lucky Dube – the deaths were the result of carjackings, while Tebego Madingoane was shot dead in a road rage incident following a car accident. Travelling anywhere in a motor vehicle in South Africa is more risky than in most parts of the world. And given the vast distances between South Africa’s major cities, the potential danger for South African musicians travelling to and from performances adds to the many sacrifices which they make in order to ply their trade. This mixtape is dedicated to all South African musicians in an acknowledgement of the many hours, days, weeks and months they end up spending on our roads, and in memory of those who have died on these roads.
Below is a list of musicians who have died on South African roads. The list is not definitive because – unfortunately – there are other South African musicians who have undoubtedly died in car accidents. If there are any names missing please let us know and we can add their details to the list, in remembrance. And if you know any or all of the names of the members of Sankomota who were killed in a car accident in April 1996 please get in touch with us. Finally, if any of the details listed are incorrect also please do get in touch with the correct information.
We have tried to include a song which features the musician(s) in question, and where possible, include a song which that musician wrote. In the case of Roger Cumming we could not locate a Silver Creek Mountain Band recording of a song on which we were sure he performed, and so we included a very fitting tribute to the Silver Creek Mountain Band by Bill Malkin, which includes a reference to Roger Cumming.
We thank Jonathan Handley of the Radio Rats for drawing and designing a special cover for this mixtape.
- Don Christie of Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans 1965
- Roger Cumming of the Silver Creak Mountain Band 1977
- Tuza Mthetwa and Pompie Sofibo of the Soul Brothers 1979
- Tony Hunter of the Uptown Rhythm Dogs 1980 (check when died?)
- Koos Du Plessis 15 January 1984
- Zakes Mchunu of the Soul Brothers 1984
- Adam Reinecke of Winston’s Jive Mix Up 17 December 1989
- Penny Power of Peach 24 April 1994
- Kevin Van Staden of Celtic Rumours 26 December 1994
- James Phillips 31 July 1995
- Four members of Sankomota 12 April 1996
- West Nkosi August 1998
- Johnny Mair of Sweatband 11 November 2002
- Bles Bridges 24 March 2000
- Gito Baloi 4 April 2004
- Tebego Madingoane of Mafikizolo 14 February 2004 (shot dead in a road rage
- incident following car accident)
- Lebo Mathosa of Boom Shaka Shaka 23 October 2006
- Lucky Dube 18 October 2007
- Tulsa Pittaway of Watershed (and Evolver One and Brotherly) 21 May 2017
- Jacques de Coning solo Afrikaans singer 9 June 2019
- Jethro Butow of Morocko and …. 19 January 2020
- Emmanuel “Mjokes” Matsane of Trompies 22 May 2021
- Sakhile Hlatshwayo (Killer Kau) 8 August 2021
- Mpura 8 August 2021 (Same accident as above)
Darren Scott is the first guest DJ on Mixedtapes ZA, offering us his choice of South African music; in this case his Top 20 South African songs of the 1980s, including songs from 1979 which were around at the beginning of 1980.
This is the first of our occasional series of Guest DJ mixed tapes compiled by former Capital Radio DJ s.
These are ranked from No 20 through to number 1 on the mixed tape. Enjoy!
If you want to see the play listing prior to listening to the countdown you can view the order of the songs in this week’s poll below.
Show Playlist + Poll
In 1981 Capital Radio was still broadcasting from Port St Johns in the Wild Coast, and still charting a new way forward with music policy. They continued to select songs from a broad spectrum including reggae (still not played on Radio 5), funk, soul, disco, pop, rock, country and post-punk influenced new wave. Juluka , whose ‘Africa’ was playlisted on Capital from the outset , offered a unique combination of Celtic folk rock and mbaqanga to add to the already eclectic mix of music Capital listeners got to hear on their radios.
Some of the South African acts which charted on Capital in 1980 did so again in 1981: City Limits, Joy, Juluka, Lastique and Peach but 1981 offered up songs by artists new to Capital Radio. Margaret Singana was already well-known to the South African audience but Capital introduced several musicians and groups on the release of their debut albums and singles. These included Lesley Rae Dowling, Hotline, Kariba, Morocko and Neill Solomon & The Uptown Rhythm Dogs.
Such was the difficult and transient nature of the South African music industry that on occasion some groups shared musicians who were either trying their luck with two or more bands at once or who had jumped ship in the hope of something more successful and lucrative. On many occasions a musician’s group broke up and they sought a new group to play in.
For example, of the groups who charted on Capital in 1981 Jethro Butow was a member of both Kariba and Morocko and Mike Faure was a member of Morocko but after they broke up he briefly joined the Uptown Rhythm Dogs (in 1982). By 1981 one-time Ballyhoo drummer Cedric Samson had become initially drummer and then vocalist for Morocko. After Clout broke up in 1981 Bones Brettell became the keyboard player for Hotline and Gary van Zyl became the bass player for Juluka, who were expanding from a duo to a fully-fledged band. Another member of the newly expanded Juluka was keyboardist Rick Wolf who had been a member of City Limits until their demise earlier that year. In turn, Wolf was replaced in 1983 by former Clout keyboardist Glenda Millar (formerly Glenda Hyam).
In 1981 no South African songs reached number one or two in the Capital charts. Of the top performing songs on the Capital Top 40 countdown “When you gonna love me” – City Limits peaked at number 3, “Nightmare” – Peach reached number 4, “Love chain reaction” – Joy spent two weeks at number 6 and “Impi” – Juluka spent two weeks at number 7. “Bowtie boogaloo” – Morocko reached number 10.
This mixtape plays from number 14 through to the number 1 South African song of the year as per performance on the Capital Radio weekly countdowns. If you want to see the play listing prior to listening to the countdown you can view the order of the songs in this week’s poll below.
Show Playlist + Poll
When Capital Radio began in December 1979 it introduced playlisting which was strikingly different to that of the SABC’s Radio 5 music station. This affected all music chosen for radio play bit its impact was especially felt by South African musicians with cultural-political messages such as Juluka who were not played on SABC (in the early 1980s in particular).
In fact Juluka’s “Africa” was banned on SABC because of its political message and because it mixed English and Zulu, but it charted on Capital Radio, being the first South African song to reach number 1 on their weekly Top 40 countdown. Solo artists like Steve Kekana and groups like Harari, Kariba, Spirits Rejoice and Juluka, who performed South African/Western cross over styles often with culturally significant lyrics charted on Capital Radio in 1980, but mostly not on the mainstream SABC popular music channels (Spirits Rejoice being an exception). By playing these musicians, Capital Radio significantly impacted on the lives of their audience, instilling a sense of pride in a diversity of South African music, bringing together people who the apartheid government was trying to keep apart and by introducing their listeners to a broader spectrum of music, not narrowly chosen as appropriate for their race or ethnic group by the state broadcaster.
Of the top performing songs in 1980, “Africa” – Juluka was the only one to reach number 1, “Ain’t gonna stop” – Joy and Steve Kekana’s “Raising my family” peaked at number 2, while “Portable radio” – Clout reached number 3, as did “Shine on” by Spirits Rejoice which nevertheless went on to become the most successful of the South African songs that charted in 1980. “Oowatanite” – Clout peaked at number 4 and “Paradise Road” by Joy at number 5. “Party” by Harari reached number 8, where it spent three weeks before dropping down the charts.
This mixtape plays from number 12 through to the number 1 South African song of the year as per performance on the Capital Radio weekly countdowns. If you want to see the play listing prior to listening to the countdown you can view the order of the songs in this week’s poll below.
Show Playlist + Poll