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In this issue:
tall tales
the news
SA pop
Rene's top 50
Rui remembers
radio rats
the hidden years, part 2
Pop Quiz
SA Music Day
McCully Workshop
for sale
Grahamstown Festival



This is a discussion forum for anything about
South African rock music; past, present and future.

Read it, digest it, enjoy it, send in your comments
and tell your friends....

Thank you to everyone who has written in and supplied
info. I can't put it all up in one issue, so if your
request or contribution isn't here, don't worry, it will
appear soon.



Aaron Buckley (from the US, I think) wrote...

My name is Aaron and I am trying very hard to locate
some information on a band..The bands' name is Pop Guns..
I heard them on a compilation tape that I found in a local
record shop a few months ago. The Compilation is called "World Class
Punk" it was put out by a label called, ROIR...Reachout International
Records.. this small and now non-existant label hailed from New York,
the comp. was put out in 1984....That's the scary part...
Can you help me??
Have you ever heard of the band? Apparently they are from S.A...
and They are great...
please reply...

{Editor: So I did...}

Hi Aaron

Jon from the SA Webring forwarded your e-mail to me.

The Popguns were Steve Moni on guitar, Jonathan Handley on guitar,
Graham Handley on bass. Drums by Larry Friedburg and Julian Platt.

They released 1 single in 1980 on the Radium label, Home Address b/w
The Burning Road.

Aaron replied...

Hello Brian, Thanks a lot for the reply...
I found the guy that made the compilation tape...his name is Mykel
Board, he writes for a Punk'n'Roll ?!@ magazine in New York,
thanks to you and some others...I am getting closer and
closer to my goal

and again...

well, I have been able to find out a few things...
One; that Jonathan Handley is now a Doctor in a town called
Orkney(?) but he still writes songs. He was also in a band called
'Radio Rats'...Apparently he is writing songs for a company called
Peer Music Publishing...very interesting indeed...
One of his latest songs can be found on the new Danny de Wet (?)
and the Lowveld Garage Band's (?) debut CD "Hypocrites Unite".
The song is called 'Fanny Magnet'.

{Editor: see Radio Rats below}


I found you site on SA music very interesting. I have something you
might be interested in as far as SA rock history goes. I used to live
in South Africa, I live in London now. I used to be quite involved
with the music scene with old Spring duckie's like Dave Allen, ex Radio
Rats/Hogs Norton. We had a band called Middle Earth (Jeh!) in the 80's
and Mauritz Lotz was the lead guitarist! Those guys lived the
Led Zep/ZZ Top life style. We used to play gigs alongside Larry Amos
and the like. I was just a youngster then singing but I was lucky to
see the tail end of it. I still keep in touch with some of them and I
believe they are still doing it. Have a look at my bands site. I think
it is very pertinent to the rock scene in SA. As far as I am aware
there aren't many SA rock bands breaking major ground abroad. We are
signed to Baronhouse UK independent. Tale (the band) is after ten years
of hard work. We are recording at Bop studios with producer Mick
Glossop of FZappa, Van M. in May/June and a tour of Japan later this
year for Music Plant. We got best produced/engineered album of the
year 97 and I bet you have never heard of us!

Check out

Anyway nice to see a site dedicated to some great bands and recording

-- Rob Granville


The News' single, "Up to No Good/Station Road Rhythm" on Mountain
Records was played on Radio 5 as late as 1984. The band was hugely
popular on the college/university circuit. I noticed that many of the
new wave bands listed on your site were co-billed or support acts at
"The News" shows - which led me to wonder why they weren't listed.

-- Zita


Rene Mullenders from Holland wrote...

I received the Best of SA Pop Volume 3 last week. Thank you very much
for all your trouble. Boy, what memories did it bring back. Listening
to LM Radio on shortwave. I lived in Port Elizabeth at the time and the
reception wasn't too good. Lying in bed at night listening to David
Gresham presenting the Springbok Top 20 on a small transistor radio
with an earphone (who still remembers earphones) while I was supposed
to be sleeping. Then came Radio 5. I listened to their first broadcast
and after that I remember Martin Locke and Long John Berks always
having a go at each other. And always there were the songs. It's great
to be hearing them again. Some of them I had on vinyl LP's and even
some singles, some recorded from the radio. It's sounds so much better
on CD. What amazes me is that on the 6 Best of SA pop CD's there's only
one Julian Laxton Band and one Rabbitt song. Where is Celebrate the
Rain, Johannesburg, 1960 and Hold On To Love, A Croak And A Grunt In
The Night, Sugar Pie, etc. Even Clout, who were very popular here in
the Netherlands, only got one song. Not to forget We Are Growing from
Shaka Zulu with music by Julian Laxton and vocals by Margaret Singana
which was a Top 10 hit over here.

I'm busy typing in the listing for volume 3 of The Best Of SA Pop and I
realised that there is no songs of Juluka on the whole collection!
How is that possible? {Editor: licencing problems is always a good
reason!}. And where is Mango Groove, Sweatband and Ella Mental?
While typing in Richard Jon Smith's That's Why I Love You I remembered
another hit of his namely Candle Light. I would love to see that one on
the next collection. I saw Richard Jon Smith on stage in Port Elizabeth
around the time that Michael Row The Boat Ashore was a hit. Another SA
music memory that surfaced now was Lionel Pieterson doing John Miles'
Music during his supporting act of Cliff Richard's 1980 tour. It was
the first time I heard the song but John Miles' original version has
been one of my top 5 favourite songs ever since. The words so aptly
describes me:

"Music was my first love, and it will be my last.
Music of the future and music of the past.
To live without my music would be impossible to do.
In this world of trouble, my music pulls me through."

(Written from memory - that goes to show how much I love this song.)

And what about Touch Of Class with Ek En My Meisie for the next
collection. It was quite a hit on the Afrikaans scene. It even went
double gold. It was the first song we played when my wife and I moved
into our house in Pretoria. But then again, I might be biased as their
vocalist and keyboard player, Ronell Erasmus, is my brother's
sister-in-law and I've known her ever since my brother and his wife
started dating more then 20 years ago.

Rene also sent in his Top 50 South African songs...see if these bring
back any memories...

1 Blue Water Julian Laxton Band
2 Sugar Pie Rabbitt
3 Master Jack   Four Jacks And A Jill
4 Hold On To Love   Rabbitt
5 1960 Julian Laxton Band
6 Grips Of Emotion Lesley Rae Dowling
7 Buccaneer   McCully Workshop
8 Miss Eva Goodnight Crocodile Harris
9        He's Gonna Step On You
Again     John Kongos
10 Ek En My Meisie   Touch Of Class
11 Scatterlings Of Africa Juluka
12 Celebrate The Rain Julian Laxton Band
13 Substitute   Clout
14        Better The Devil You
Know     Stingray
15 I Like     John Ireland
16 Charlie     Rabbitt
17 Sunday, Monday, Tuesday Jessica Jones
18 One More Night   Ken J. Larkin
19 Locomotive Breath Rabbitt
20        Clap Your Hands And
Stamp Your Feet         Maria
21 Damnit I Love You Dennis East
22 Butchers And Bakers Staccatos
23 Candle Light   Richard Jon Smith
24 Venus   Stockley Sisters
25 We Are Growing   Julian Laxton & Margaret Singana
26 This Boy   Sweatband
27 Mammy Blue   Charisma
28        Look Out Here Comes
Tomorrow   The Dealians
29 Cry To Me   Staccatos
30 Man On The Moon   Ballyhoo
31 Dance Sum More   Mango Groove
32 Hello A     Billy Forrest And Sharon Tandy
33 Shape Of Her Body Sweatband
34 Heart     Gene Rockwell
35 Let Me Into Your Life The Flood
36 Count The Red Cars Penny Croft
37 Lazy Life   Quentin E. Klopjaeger
38 Vicky     Lance James
39 Vyfster     Lloyd Ross
40        As I Went Out One
Morning (Damsel)         Tribe After Tribe
41 n Brief Vir Simone Anton Goosen
42 Lisa Se Klavier   Koos Kombuis
43 You Ask Me To   Bobby Angel
44 Walking In The Sunshine Peter Lotis
45 My Kind Of Girl   Cinema
46 That's Why I Love You Richard Jon Smith
47 The Wonder Of Your Love Jody Wayne
48 It Was The Wind   Petit Cheval
49 Tiny Bubbles   Billy Forrest
50        Dear Abby (One Night Of
Passion)   Little Sister



My greatest recollection of a live South African band has got to be
Count Ash. I used to see them every time they played at Late Night Al's
in Bruma (not a particularly good venue and the crowds were always more
interested in 'grabbing-a-granny' than the music) and became hooked.
Unfortunately success eluded them after having a #1 hit on Radio 5.
(I think the song was Holding On featuring Gerald Priestly on vocals).
After Gerald left the band, Vernie (recently departed from Just Jinger)
then joined for a while. The band then went overseas and split. Joe da
Silva (in my opinion the best lead guitarist in SA) did a solo new age
album and now is apparently working in a Johannesburg studio.

Their live shows were awesome as was the volume at which they played.
Even though they had to do the dreaded 'cover versions' to survive,
they used to inject originals inbetween that were awesome. They never
recorded an album but sold a cassette at their shows.

Another great band of this era for me was Diamond Dogs. Similar story
to Count Ash. Never recorded an album but achieved a Radio 5 #1 song.

Anybody remember Dog Detachment? After three killer self produced and
financed albums, where are they now?

-- Rui de Sousa


With regard to the query about the Radio Rats, after `Into the
night we slide' in 1978 (Jo'burg Records) they brought out singles
including `The big wham bam' in 1981 on Jonathan Handley's own
Radium Records label. In 1990 they reformed for a few gigs in the
wake of the release of their `Big Beat' album (Shifty). This album
features two of the original Rats: core members Jonathan Handley and
Dave Davies. Since then they have recorded `Theatre of electric
chairs' and are presently working on a new album which they hope to
release this year. Jonathan lives in Klerksdorp and is a very
productive song-writer, recording South African outback musicals
brought out as the Glee Club. These are available from Jonathan at:

Radium Records
Suite 207
Postnet X10

This is not a comprehensive history of the Rats, but it should fill
some of the gaps!

-- Michael Drewett

THE HIDDEN YEARS, part 2 (continued from last issue)

a report from David Marks

Those that did make records but refused to compromise, are also subject
to industry amnesia, when it suites them (the record industry).
Suddenly there's a rush of nostalgia to the pocket & a clamour for
those wonderfully obscure rock & folk bands who couldn't sell 250
copies at R2.50 and now command $1,000 a unit in the collectors market.
The record industry claims credit! This is not fair at all. With their
massive marketing budgets to keep afloat, the record industry who
established themselves on the back of apartheid have a lot more to
answer for than trying to re-invent the truth. If Clive Calder wasn't
so 'busy' he could tell you some horrific stories about trying to get
rock rebels recorded - just as 3rd Ear or Shifty Music are doing about
our altercations with the Record & Radio Industry at large.

With the greatest respect to those people in the industry who are now
free to promote South African music for what it is and not for what
they believe it should be, it is important that we work together on a
cultural level - similar perhaps to what the TRC has been trying to do
on a social & political level. It needn't be as painful and as academic
because, as we all know, music is about having fun & turning people on,
it's not about being "a threat to the safety of the state & the record
industry" as they used to believe. It's NOT THAT SERIOUS. Musicians
don't go out to work, we go out to play. But so to do Sportspeople -
and look at their 'industry', their sponsors and their media.

I'm embarrassed to claim that Music is a 'creative' art when the sports
industry is proving to be far more creative and pro-active in the
development and transformation of this country than we are. It's no
wonder music has such a bad name among the straights & with sponsors.
Is this why it is riddled with so many corrupt opportunists? Imagine
if Louis Luyt, Sticks Morewa or Abdul Bamjee were musicians? But that's
what we have to work/live for, despite the hassles, it's a good
industry to be a part, not apart, of.

part 3 in next week's issue...

Last week's question:

Who originally sang the Staccato's classic Cry To Me?

Cry To Me...the Staccato's major contribution to SA's pop history was
an adaption of a Bert Russell (aka Bert Berns) composition which has
been recorded by many others including Solomon Burke (who was the first
in 1962), Tom Petty, The Pretty Things, The Rolling Stones, Freddie
Scott and Betty Harris.

Congratulations to John Gage from Cape Town for being the first correct

Chris Bush wrote...
In my current state of mind everything seems a bit cloudy but I seem
to recall hearing a Solomon Burke version of Cry To Me many years ago
which leads me to believe that this could be the original however when
the memory banks are back in working order I'll let you know.
Incidently the last version I heard of this song was the uptempo
Precious Wilson (Eruption fame) and the Skytrains version.
A bit funky!!


This week's question:

Margaret Singana has covered a number of classic SA rock songs. She has
sung songs by Hawk, Julian Laxton and Freedoms Children.

Who originally performed the brilliant Tribal Fence?

More at

The first correct answer will win a copy of Margaret Singana's Lady
Africa CD kindly supplied by Derek Smith from Gallo.



More here...


I have put up a Family Tree for McCully Workshop
on the Internet. Point your browser to:

Any comments welcome.


I've been receiving your SA Rock Digest, and was wondering whether
you'll include a "classified ad" for me. I'm selling my Korg T2
Synthesizer - (8-track sequencer, 300 sounds, 77 keys) for R7000
o.n.c.o. It's the model which replaced the classic M1, and since it's
hardly been used, it's in excellent condition.

I live in Durban, so obviously local buyers would be preferable.
Anelia Schutte

{Editor: please e-mail Anelia direct, not through me!}


I know you don't want this digest to be a buy and swop column, but
perhaps you will make an exception for a good cause! I am working
flat out on an exhibition of the censorship of music under apartheid
for this year's Grahamstown festival (and thereafter for further
exhibitions and as an ongoing educational resource) and am
desperately in need of posters, albums, magazines, T-shirts, photo's
etcetera, from that time. If anyone is able to help by lending,
donating or selling items - dealing with musicians (both local and
overseas) who were censorsed, banned (for any reason) or wrote about
political issues, they can contact me directly -

Michael Drewett
Co-ordinator: Censorship of music exhibition
Department of Sociology
Rhodes University

fax: (046) 622 5570
phone: (046) 603-8361

More from Michael...

It's difficult to be more specific about my requirments without
providing an inventory! The sorts of albums I'm looking for would
mostly be local (with a few overseas albums with anti-apartheid songs
or which were banned for other reasons (eg. Zappa)). The local albums
(or posters, T-shirts, etcetera) would relate to musicians who were
censorsed in some way (eg. Most of the Shifty artists, some of the
Mountain and 3rd Ear Artists) or who sang socially-aware/political
songs eg. Bright Blue, Kalahari Surfers, Johnny Clegg, The Cherry Faced
Lurchers, National Wake and so on.


Back to Index
The SA Rock Digest is compiled by Brian "Vagabond" Currin from the
"Too Good To Be Forgotten" internet message board, e-mails from
various Digest members and other varied sources.

The opinions expressed here are not always echoed by myself, but I
try to keep an open mind. (After growing up in SA in the 70s and
spending 5 years in the Army, that's not so easy!)

For the basic rules of the Digest please visit:
or I can e-mail them to you.

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Visit Sugar's Amuzine site at:

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Are you are a SA musician looking for info or resources?
Visit Gareth's excellent website.

Try SonicNet's music guide for info on international artists at:



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