South African Music Mavericks, Part II

by Sheldon Rocha Leal

In 2016 I wrote a Medium article about iconic South African music mavericks who have had a major impact on world music history and trends. The article features profiles on 11 individuals, who may not all be familiar names, but who have all had a major impact on the music business. Whilst reflecting on this article, I decided that it was time to follow it up with one in which I elaborate on additional South African music mavericks. In the present article I have decided to profile 5 influential individuals.

Once again, not all the names will be familiar, but all the individuals have had a major impact on world music trends. The 5 individuals selected are: Robert John “Mutt” Lange (producer/songwriter); Trevor Jones (composer and movie score writer); Manfred Mann (recording artist); Blondie Chaplin (songwriter/producer/session musician); Dave Matthews (recording artist).

All 5 individuals have had very successful and influential careers and have contributed to the world’s musical repository. Without further a do, let me introduce you to my 5 South African music mavericks:

Robert John “Mutt” Lange

These 4 albums on which “Mutt” Lange contributed work shifted over 70million units internationally.

Robert was born on the 11th of November 1048, in Zambia (previously known as Northern Rhodesia) to a German mom and South African dad. He is a world famous producer and songwriter. He was brought up in South Africa, where he completed most of his schooling and started his first band, in Belfast High School, in the province of Mpumalanga. He formed two other bands in SA (Sound Reason and Hocus) before completing his compulsory military service and eventually immigrating with his wife, and fellow musician, Stevie Vann to the UK.

In 1978 he wrote the Ipswich Town FA Cup single, “Ipswich Get That Goal”, which was based on a song he had written the previous year for Paul Jones, “Give That Thang To Me”. His first No1 single in the UK was written for the Boomtown Rats and was released in 1978, “Rat Trap”. One of the main members of the band was Sir Bob Geldof. Since then he has been associated with some of the top bands and recording artists in history and had at least one major hit every decade for the past four decades.

He has written music in various genres: Pop/Country/Rock/Progressive Rock/Arena Rock. His first major international success was with the Australian band AC/DC. He produced three albums for the band and brought them major international acclaim. One of the albums he produced was “Back In Black”, which is considered the 2nd biggest selling album of all time, having shipped over 50million units internationally.

With Bryan Adams, “Mutt” Lange wrote 4 iconic movie theme songs for “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves”; “Don Juan DeMarco”; “The Mirror Has Two Faces”; “The Three Musketeers”.

He also had major associations with Def Leppard and the Canadian recording artist, Bryan Adams. Albums he produced for the two acts, shipped over 96million Records internationally. With Bryan Adams he penned and produced one of the biggest selling singles of all time: “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, from the movie “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves”, which peaked at No1 in 20 countries and shipped over 15million units internationally. He also wrote other motion picture themes with Bryan Adams: “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” from “Don Juan De Marco”, “I Finally Found Someone” (duet with Bryan Adams and Barbra Streisand) from “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and “All For Love”, featuring Sting, Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams, from the “Three Musketeers”.

His most prolific collaboration was with the Canadian Country singer, Shania Twain. He married the singer in 1993 and between 1995 and 2002 he wrote and produced four of her albums, including “Come On Over”, which is considered the biggest selling album by a female recording artist in history, having shipped over 40million units internationally. Together the husband and wife team were responsible for 96million units worth of record sales.

These 4 Shania Twain Albums, which “Mutt” Lange produced, shifted over 86million units internationally.

In the new millennium he has worked with artists such as Muse, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Celine Dion, Nickleback and Carrie Underwood. To date he has won 5 Grammy Awards, the last being won for the work he completed with Muse in 2015 on the album “Drones”. He has also been nominated for 3 Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

Other artists with whom he has worked include: Michael Bolton, Tina Tuner, Heart, Billy Ocean, Foreigner, Reba McEntire, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lonestar, Starship, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Dionne Warwick, Santana, Barbra Streisand, The Corrs, Cars and Huey Lewis and The News.

A conservative estimate indicates that albums and singles which “Mutt” Lange has written or produced have shipped over 430million units internationally: 41million singles and 389million albums, making him one of the most prolific and successful songwriter/producers of all time.

He has charted with 51 Top 40 singles in the USA, of which 23 peaked in the Top 10 and 5 at No1. In the UK, he has charted with 48 singles in the Top 40, 26 in the Top10 and 3 No1’s. With regards to albums, he has scored with 39 Top 40 albums in the USA, of which 27 peaked in the Top 10 and 12 at No1. In the UK 41 of the albums he produced peaked in the Top 40, of which 30 peaked in the Top 10 and 12 at No1.

“Mutt” Lange has worked with some iconic artists: Maroon 5; Def Leppard; Michael Bolton; Lady Gaga; Tina Tuner; Celine Dion.

In his 40 year career “Mutt” Lange has amassed a fortune of over $220million USD. He now lives in Switzerland and leads a reclusive lifestyle, keeping out of the media and doing what he does best, which is writing and producing music for various artists around the world.

Trevor Jones

The movie for which Trevor Jones has written music have generated over $2billion USD at the box office.

Trevor Jones, born in District Six in the Western Cape, South Africa on the 23rd of March 1949, and is a famous movie score composer. His talent was identified early and at the age of 10 he was accepted to study music at the South African College Of Music at the University of Cape Town. At the age of 17 he was encouraged, by his teachers, to audition to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He passed the audition, but was unable to accept the offer, as he could not afford the tuition. In order to assist in his foreign studies the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town raised enough money to pay for his first year of studies. The course for which he was registered was a four year programme and he was therefore forced to work to continue his studies in London. One his jobs was as a classical music reviewer for BBC Radio and Television, for which he won a prize. At the Academy he studied composition, orchestration, conducting, piano and organ.

Trevor Jones has worked with some of the world’s biggest directors: Ridley Scott; Alan Parker; Jim Henson; Michael Mann.

Trevor went on to complete an Honours degree at York University and Masters degree at England’s National Film and Television School. He commenced a doctorate, which it seems he never completed. An honorary doctorate was, however, conferred on him, from the University of the Western Cape, in 2005 by the legendary Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

He scored music for his first movie in 1979 entitled “Brittania: The First Of The Last”. His career has spanned nearly 40 years and in this time he has scored music for 63 movies, 25 television movies or series and a video game “Marvel Nemesis: Rise Of The Imperfects” (2005).

The movies for which he has scored have starred some of the world’s most iconic music stars and actors, including (but are not limited to): David Bowie, Sir Mick Jagger, Will Smith, Britney Spears, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Sean Connery, Dame Helen Mirren, Julia Roberts, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn, Dudley Moore, Sylvester Stallone, Sir Daniel Day Lewis, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Hugh Grant and Johnny Depp.

Trevor Jones’ music has featured in movies in which the following actors have appeared: Sir Daniel Day Lewis; Sir Anthony Hopkins; Sir Sean Connery: Dame Helen Mirren.

He has worked with some of the most iconic movie directors of all time, including: Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, Jim Henson, Peter Chelsom, Alexander Proyas, Terry Gilliam, Michael Mann, Jim Sheridan, John Henderson, Paul Weiland, Andrei Konchalovsky and John Boorman.

Some of the iconic movies for which he has scored music include: “Last of the Mohicans”; “Labyrinth”; “FreeJack”; “Mississippi Burning”; “Arachnophobia”; “Cliffhanger”; “In The Name of the Father”; “G.I. Jane”; “Notting Hill”; “Crossroads”; “I. Robot”; “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”; “Excalibur”. All the movies for which he has scored music have generated a conservative estimate of over $2billion USD at the box office.

The following recording artists have starred in movies in which Trevor Jones’ music has been featured: Sir Mick Jagger; Britney Spears; David Bowie; Will Smith.

For his efforts he has won 8 ASCAP Awards (American Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers), has received 3 Ivor Novello Award nominations, 1 Emmy Award nomination, 3 BAFTA Award nominations (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and 2 Golden Globe nominations. He was also a jury member for the BAFTAs, The Mercury Prize and The International Film Festival of Flanders. He resides in Cape Town and has started various projects in which he raises funding to facilitate student’s music education and training at various institutions worldwide.

Manfred Mann

Manfred Mann at the beginning of his long career.

Manfred Mann is a famous recording artist and musician, whose main instruments are Keyboard and vocals. He was born Manfred Lubowitz in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 21st of October 1940. He was always interested in music and after matriculating from high school, he went on to study music at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS). Whilst studying, he worked and formed South Africa’s first Rock ‘n Roll band, The Vikings, in 1959, with a childhood friend.

After completing his studies and due to his opposition to South Africa’s Apartheid policies, he decided to immigrate to the UK. When he got to there, he started writing for a music publication known as “The Jazz News”, under the pseudonym, Manfred Manne (after the well known Jazz drummer Shelly Manne). He would later shorten the surname to Mann and adopt it as his stage name.

Manfred Mann Band in the early 1960s.

In 1962, he started working at a Holiday camp in the Clacton and met members of what would later be known as the Manfred Mann band. The band initially played Jazz and Blues songs and was known as The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers. It eventually became a quintet and was signed to a record deal with EMI in 1963, the same company that signed The Beatles, but under one of their subsidiary labels, HMV. The band’s name was altered to Manfred Mann at the insistence of a label executive.

Manfred Mann’s career can be subdivided into four broad eras:

  • 1960s as member of Manfred Mann
  • As a member of Manfred Mann Chapter 3
  • 1970s as member of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.
  • 1980s to the present day as a solo act.

His first band was a Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues fusion band. His second band was a Jazz Rock band. The third band and most of his solo output would fall under the Progressive Rock genre. Besides for being a popular musician, he also generated income from writing jingles for advertisements and even wrote the score for a 1969 movie entitled “Venus In Furs”.

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

As a keyboard specialist he mastered various keyboard instruments including the Minimoog synthesizer. He played the instrument on the Uriah Heep song “July Morning” (1971). He also played keyboards on another famous South African’s, Trevor Rabin, album “Wolf” in 1981.

In his career, thus far, he has released 53 albums (which include studio, compilation and live albums). Of these albums 3 hit the Top 40 in the USA and 8 hit the Top 40 in the UK. He released 6 EPs of which 3 peaked at No1 on the UK EP charts. He also released 62 singles, of which 20 charted in the Top40 on the UK charts, 17 peaked in the Top10 and 3 at No1. In the USA 6 singles peaked in the Top40 and two at No1.

Manfred Mann contribute minimoog to one of Uriah Heep’s songs in the 1970s.

His most successful singles included “5–4–3–2–1”, which was used as the theme song for the British music show “Ready, Steady, Go!” in 1964. “Do Wah Diddy” (a cover of The Exciters song) was a No1 hit in the USA and UK (1964). Just Like A Woman”, a Bob Dylan cover, peaked at No10 in the UK (1966). His other two No1’s in the UK were “Pretty Flamingo” (1966) and “Mighty Quinn” (1968). “Blinded By The Light”, a Bruce Springsteen cover, was a No1 hit for Manfred in 1976.

Blondie Chaplin

Blondie Chaplin, Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield.

Blondie Chaplin was born in Durban, South Africa, on the 7th of July 1951. He started his career as guitarist and vocalist, in the Durban based rock band The Flames, at the age of 13. The band released 6 albums, before being discovered by Carl Wilson (of The Beach Boys) at a show at which they were performing in 1970 in London. One of the band’s singles “For Your Precious Love” was a No1 hit on mainstream radio in South Africa in 1968 for 13 weeks.

Carl Wilson signed the band to the Beach Boy’s vanity recording label Brother Records and changed the band’s name to The Flame, instead of Flames, so that there would be no confusion between the Chaplin band and James Brown’s backing band, who were also known as The Flames. The Flame were the only other act, other than The Beach Boys, that were released on Brother Records. Carl Wilson personally produced the band’s 1970 album “The Flame”. This was the band’s last of 8 albums.

Blondie was a member of The Beach Boys, but only for a year.

In 1972 two of the members of The Flame joined The Beach Boys as permanent members, as Brian Wilson started taking more of a reclusive role in the band, Dennis Wilson (the drummer) was unable to perform, due to a hand injury and Bruce Johnston left the band. Blondie performed lead vocal and guitar on three Beach Boys albums: “Carl and the Passions-So Tough” (No25 UK), “Holland” (No20 UK/No36 USA), which was certified silver in he UK (60,000 units shipped in the country) and “The Beach Boys In Concert” (No 25 USA), which was certified gold in the USA (500,000 units shipped). His biggest hits with the band were “Sail On Sailor” (No49 USA) and “California Saga: California” (No37 UK), on which he sang lead vocal. He left The Beach Boys in 1973 after a disagreement with the band’s management. He did, however, go on to record with Brian Wilson in 2015 on his solo album “No Pier Pressure” and toured with the Beach Boy in 2015–16 on the “Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary Tour”.

Blondie also release solo projects.

After leaving The Beach Boys he recorded and toured with various artists and appeared on over 20 albums, as a songwriter, producer and session instrumentalist, including 3 solo albums. He toured as a member of The Byrds, The Band (who had previously included Eric Clapton and Ronnie Wood as members), Rick Danko (former member of The Band), Paul Butterfield and David Johansen (former member of the iconic Punk band, The New York Dolls). He also appeared on 3 Jennifer Warnes albums and 2 Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa albums.

The song “I Know A Heartache When I See One” by Jennifer Warnes, on which he performed, peaked at No18 in the USA. In 1990 Blondie toured live with former Rolling Stone, Mick Taylor on his “Stranger In This Town” tour. This led to a 15 year collaboration with The Rolling Stones, which started in 1997.

Blondie performed on 7 Rolling Stones albums, which shipped nearly 13million units worldwide.

His collaboration with The Rolling Stones resulted in the release of 7 albums (2 studio albums, 1 compilation and 4 live albums): “Bridges To Babylon” (No3 USA/No6 UK) (1997); “No Security” (No34 USA) (1998); “Forty Licks” (No2 USA/UK) (2002); “Live Licks” (No38 UK) (2004); “A Bigger Bang” (No3 USA/No2 UK) (2005); “Shine A Light” (No11 USA/No2 UK); “Light The Fuse” (2012). These albums shipped nearly 13million albums worldwide. The tours that accompanied the albums are considered some of the biggest grossing tours of all time: “Bridges To Babylon” (1998); “No Security Tour” (1999); “Licks Tour” (2002/3); “A Bigger Bang” (2005–7). The latter tours have generated over $1,2billion USD. Two charting singles resulted from the The Rolling Stones union: “Anybody Seen My Baby” (1997) (No22 UK) and “Saint Of Me” (1997) (No26 UK).

Blondie has to date had a career that has spanned five decades and has worked with and been a part of some of the most legendary and iconic bands in music history. This is a testament to his immense talent and commitment to music and the music business.

Dave Matthews

The Dave Matthews Band.

Dave Matthews was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 9th of January 1967. At the age of 2 his parents moved the family to New York as his dad, a physicist, had been offered an opportunity to work at IBM. Five years later the family then moved to England, then back to New York, but in 1977, after his father passed away from lung cancer, the whole family moved back to South Africa to be close to family.

He was interested in music from a young age, but was mostly self-taught. He matriculated from St Stithians College (a private school in Johannesburg) and in order to escape compulsory military conscription (for religious reasons, as he is a Quaker, a passivist religion) he moved back to New York in 1985 and worked at IBM for a short period of time.

Dave Matthews has worked with some of the hottest producers in the business: Rob Cavallo, Steve Lillywhite and Glen Ballard.

In 1986 he moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, a town in which his family had previously resided prior to his birth. He worked in a Jazz bar, Miller’s, as a bartender and that’s where he started working on putting a band together. He was encouraged by a local celebrity, Tim Reynolds, to perform and was even offered the opportunity to join him on stage for performances.

By 1990 Dave decided that he wanted to record a demo, but needed a band to join him in studio. He therefore started searching for musicians to join his band. Once the band had been assembled, they started performing at every beach party and frat house in the region.

The band was originally going to be called “Dumelah”, the Sotho word for hello, but none of the members liked the name. It is reported that the band was christened “The Dave Matthews Band” when one of the band members, LeRoi Moore, booked a gig. When asked the name of the act being booked by the agent, LeRoi told him to just write down Dave Matthews. The booking agent added Band to the end of Dave Matthews and the rest is history.

Dave has collaborated with some high profile musicians: Emmylou Harris; Carlos Santana; Sir Mick Jagger; Béla Fleck & The Flecktones.

The band formed their own recording label, Bama Rags Records, and started distributing albums of live performances and studio work. Some of these albums were later re-released by RCA Records, once they were signed to the label. The first official Dave Matthews Band album to be released was a live album entitled “Remember Two Things” in 1993. Since then Dave Matthews has released 115 albums: 9 studio, 83 live, 3 compilation and 8 video albums with The Dave Matthews Band; 2 studio albums and 10 live albums as a solo artist. Out of these albums 17 have charted in the Top40 in the USA, seven of which peaked at No1 consecutively, on the charts. Most of the live albums are part of a self-released series known as Live Trax, which are exclusively released by Bama Rags Records, directly to fans as digital downloads. Commercially released albums have generated over 35 million units in sales in the USA and Canada.

His singles haven’t done as well on the charts. Out of the 29 singles released only 5 have charted on the US Top40. His highest charting single is “American Baby” released in 2005 which peaked at No16 in the USA. Nine of his singles have, however, peaked at No1 on the US American Adult Alternative chart.

Although Dave Matthews has released over 100 albums in his career, the above are the 9 Dave Matthews Band studio albums.

He has worked with some of the top musicians in the world. He has contributed to projects by Béla Fleck, Toots and the Maytals and Victor Wooten. Dave Matthews has also worked with some iconic music producers on his studio albums: Steve Lillywhite, Glen Ballard and Rob Cavallo. On the album “Everyday”, released in 2001, Vusi Mahlasela and Carlos Santana were featured as guests.

Dave Matthews has won 2 Grammy Awards, one in 1997 as part of the Band and one in 2004 as a solo artist for his album “Gravedigger”. Where Dave Matthews and his band excel is in live performance. In 2014 The Dave Matthews Band was listed as one of the top 10 highest grossing touring acts in the world from between 1990–2014. In that time they generated over $776million USD on the road, off 992 shows. In his 25 year career he has amassed a personal fortune of over $300million USD.

The reason I wrote this article is once again to dispel this myth that South Africans can’t make it on an international stage or that everything that is foreign is better than what we have here in our country. South African talent has been instrumental in affecting change on world music markets and the only limitation to our own personal success is ourselves and our own imagination. Anything is possible if one is willing to travel the road and invest in one’s talent. I get a feeling this will not be the last article I write about iconic South African artists. I feel the message is an important one that needs to be communicated to the new generation of music makers, moving through the system as we speak.