South Africa

Llandudno - just outside Cape Town - I stayed here during my first two years in Cape Town

While on tour with Blood Sweat and Tears in 1980 I made friends with the members of the Andre Devilliers Band that opened for us in Cape Town. I think that Cape Town is the most beautiful city on the planet that I had visited – certainly ahead of Rio, Vancouver or Sydney Australia which are also famous for their beauty. I began to get interested in living there.

I left BS&T shortly after the South African tour and moved to Los Angeles. Andre tracked me down there and suggested I take a film-writing job at a Cape Town studio that was in the offing.

I accepted in December 1981 and took a one year contract with UCA Studios in Cape Town and worked with the owner Volker Miros, a marvelous fellow. This man became a dear friend and inspiration.

I lived in Llandudno, about five miles outside CT with Andre’s brother Jacques and I assure you that the setting is probably as close to Shangri La as you can get. Jacques house is just below the mountain ‘Little Lion’s Head’ on the left.

I was a bit crazed – I think as I was decompressing from the ‘road’ having royally ruined a perfectly good marriage in California and as a result I did practically nothing for a year but try to regain my sanity.

While with UCA Studios I wrote my first commercials and operated a state of the art recording studio. I formed a jazz quartet and played some club gigs there. The musicians there were marvelous and all in all it was a very rewarding and rejuvenating time.

No mention of South Africa is complete without mention of the political scene. I was quite oblivious to the racial problems when I moved there and for the most part was rather myopically involved in music. Cape Town seemed a bit more integrated than the rest of South Africa and for the most part, at least on a personal level, I was able to bypass (ignore) the problems that the country was facing. Among musicians, of course, there is a different society that is based on the ability to speak the ‘language of music’ and we are in my opinion, in every country, a somewhat separate colony. Even during the ‘bad old days’ in South Africa musicians of all races played together.

I soon became very aware of the political landscape however. I was amazed at how gracious black people were and are in SA considering how they have been abused over the centuries. Though I am now now critical of any kind of nationalism I feel more a part of the social sphere here in Canada. Of course, both Canada and America are populated by invaders and have yet to come to grips with aboriginal issues. SA has one of the most marvelous constitutions in the world now but many believe that it will take generations to even out the social landscape and some doubt that it is even possible given man’s inability to accept what is different. I am not proud to be a part of the present social schema of planet earth and within myself I can only endeavor to practice Gandhi’s admonition: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. I make no apology for living there and believe because of my attitude that I was part of the solution though not an activist. I was proud to be invited to play at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and just before leaving played at his 85th birthday party.

After 3 years in Cape Town I moved to Johannesburg since the previous year I had spent 6 months in a hotel there while involved in the production of TV specials and commercial music.

Blood Sweat and Tears in Cape Town during our tour of South Africa 1979