A tribute to a legend

2008-09-22 00:00

“I knew him very well,” says Guy Henderson, author of Crazy World: A Tribute To Lucky Dube. “I accompanied him [Dube] on a three-month tour to the United States in the late eighties, which was where I first got to know him.” At the time, Henderson was in charge of Gallo Record Company in South Africa.

Henderson now lives in London, where he works as senior vice president for Sony ATV Music Publishing. He has been campaigning the cause of South African music on the international front for the past few decades. The re-release of the book, which was first published in 1997, was spurred on by the publishing company after Dube’s untimely death last year.

“I checked with the family first to make sure they were comfortable with it,” says Henderson, “and then we proceeded.

“I had never written anything before this,” says Henderson. An accountant by profession, his efforts as author, he says, couldn’t be “more diametrically opposed” to his normal work. “But I felt it was important to get this done before life took over.”

Fans of Dube will be glad he did. The re-released book is a consolidated biography of Dube’s life and career to the 1994 general election. The book has been updated with tributes from friends and colleagues of Dube’s and tells how an ordinary man followed his dream to become one of this nation’s foremost musicians. A comprehensive look at his life and his music, the discography includes Dube’s song lyrics, and the inner jackets carry a collage of biographical photographs.

Henderson recalls a trip with Dube to Jamaica in 1991. He says that was where his insight and appreciation of reggae music received a boost. “At the time I was familiar with artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh — music my mates and I were interested in at the time. [I saw] how the music has huge social commentary, and how a genre, which was reasonably unfashionable in terms of international music, was so popular through the lyrics and its fascinating musical arrangement.”

So what was Dube like off-stage? “He was fairly quiet and kept to himself quite a bit. Obviously there would be nights where he was the gregarious life and soul of the party, and for those who knew him well, he was a very loving, loyal friend. But generally, he was fairly quiet.”

Henderson says his most lasting impression of the South African reggae legend is his sense of humour. “He was really funny. He also had a great sense of responsibility towards his family, which was a trait a lot of people admired.”

• Crazy World — a tribute to Lucky Dube, published by Shuter & Shooter, is now available at bookstores. Royalties earned from the sale of this book will be shared equally between the author and the Lucky Dube Trust.

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