During early lockdown in South Africa, in May/June 2020 former Capital Radio 604 listeners were invited to vote for their favourite South African songs of the 1980s. 18 people submitted their top 20 charts, in order of preference. For this mixtape we have decided to feature the top 25 songs from that chart. Songs were given 20 points if a number one on someone’s chart, all the way down to one point for a song listed at number 20.
Given that songs need to be known (and liked) by several people to be voted onto a chart like this, it is not a surprise that most of these songs are familiar to us, and are songs we would expect to see on an all-time-greatest chart. It is also not unexpected that many artists feature more than once: Bright Blue, Lesley Rae Dowling and eVoid all have two songs, and Juluka has three songs, with Johnny Clegg’s other band – Savuka – featuring a further song. Probably all of South Africa’s 1980s classics are included here. We hope you enjoy listening to them.
In no specific order, they are:
- Weeping – Bright Blue
- Clowns (See Yourself) – Ella Mental
- Shadows – eVoid
- Taximan – eVoid
- Scatterlings Of Africa – Juluka
- Man On The Moon – Ballyhoo
- Window On The World – Bright Blue
- Paradise Road – Joy
- Jabulani – Hotline
- Burnout – Sipho Mabuse
- Hey Boy – Via Afrika
- Here We Are – Face to Face
- Once In A Lifetime –Petit Cheval
- The Spaniard – Lesley Rae Dowling
- December African Rain – Juluka
- Slow rain – Celtic Rumours
- Johnny Calls The Chemist – Falling Mirror
- Ancient Dust Of Africa – Edi Niederlander
- Weekend Special – Brenda & the Big Dudes
- Baby You Been Good – Robin Auld
- Grips Of Emotion – Lesley Rae Dowling
- Mysteries And Jealousy – The Helicopters
- Lies – Jonathan Butler
- Africa – Juluka
- Asimbonanga – Savuka
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)
Chris Prior was one of the original dee jays on Capital radio when it first aired in 1979. He spent the late 1960s and first half of the seventies travelling the world before joining the SABC, initially for a brief spell with the news department and then the English Service where he was with Radio Today for two and a half years as a radio journalist and then he was appointed as editor of Audio Mix round about 1978. And then at the end of ’78 Capital Radio took him on as their specialist music presenter, programmer and he was with them for two years. After a brief period overseas he joined SABC’s Radio 5 at the end of ’81, beginning of ’82 and was with them into the early-mid 1990s. During this time he became known as the ‘rock professor’ for his knowledge of blues and rock music which was reflected in his playlists. Since the mid-1990s he has continued to host specialist rock shows through various outlets and is currently hosting The Rock Professor Show every Friday evening on MC90.3 Plettenberg Bay and Knysna 97.0 FM (also available as a Podcast).
Reflecting on South African music in the 1980s he lamented “the type of material that the record companies had chosen to record and the lack of effort that they put behind musicians of real worth and calibre …the type of crap that they thought the listeners should hear. You know, the kind of music that they were selling, that they actually put a bit of money behind – it was never much – was the sort of Euro-centric disco twaddle that really wasn’t worth anything at all. And that in essence was all that South African music consisted of. Fortunately in the ’70s there was the sort of underground element, and I think in terms of Mike Dickman playing guitar, and Abstract Truth were a very nice band. I mean now they’re horribly dated, but in those days they were jolly interesting and innovative. Julian Laxton and Freedom’s Children and all that stuff. I mean Baxtop: great, great, great! And in the ’80s we had bands like Falling Mirror. I mean there were always bands that were just a little outside of the outside. But what was available as a DJ to play was pure shlock.”
Fortunately Chris Prior has been able to provide us with a grooving playlist of South African music from the late 1970s into the early 1990s which we can enjoy, from the Radio Rats, Finch & Henson and Baxtop in the late 1970s to Neill Solomon & the Uptown Rhythm Dogs in the early ’80s, eVoid, Cherry Faced Lurchers, Falling Mirror, Tribe After Tribe and Edi Niederlander in the mid ’80s, the Genuines and Celtic Rumours in the late 1980s and Mauritz Lotz in 1991.
Show Playlist + Poll