The band had its humble beginnings in Durban in the 1960s. Steve
loved playing the guitar, learning to play tunes from the radio.
“Then an amazing thing happened: our opposite neighbours emigrated
and gave us a drum kit and an electric guitar. By that time I had already taught
my brother Edries some chords and we roped in Ricky, our youngest brother, only
eight at the time, to play drums.
Steve adds that while the youth aspect impressed people they also
had a talent to make each song their own.
Eventually the band, with Blondie Chaplin as part of the group,
started recording. The rest of South Africa took to the sound that they were
creating with many of their songs being hits going to the top of the charts, one
of them being the ever popular “For your Precious Love”.
“The people who grew up in that era are still around. We’re a bit
older but they come up to me and tell me that the music of their youth keeps
them young and they’re right. Look at me; I’m 73 years young and still love
making music,” he laughs.
When starting the band they made a decision to try their luck on
the international stage. In retrospect this move placed them on the verge of
superstardom but also led to the break-up of the band.
“With youth as our excuse we thought it would be easy but some
surprises awaited us when we docked in Southampton. We sat on that boat for four
days as authorities decided what to do with us because it was obvious that we
wanted to work and were not there on a holiday.
“We impressed everybody that came to hear us,” continues
“It seemed as if we were going to make it big but the fates had
other plans for us. The Beach Boys were still signed to Capitol Records when
they started their own label, Brother Records, and we’re still the only group
other than the Beach Boys who recorded on that label, but the album could not be
released until all those legalities were sorted out.
“I never regret what I did because my heart was here but Ricky and
Blondie ended up touring with the Beach Boys for many years and becoming firmly
established on the international scene.
Meanwhile, back in South Africa Steve still plies his trade in
Durban, takes a trip down to Cape Town from time to time and when that guitar
starts talking and the voice shares his stories, a generation is transported
back to their youth when the Flames set South Africa alive with song.
On Sunday he is at the
District Six Homecoming Centre in Buitengracht Street where they are hosting the
Arts and Social Justice Festival from 11:00 to 19:00. This festival will include
a screening of Action Kommandant, Mike van Graan’s Pay
Back the Curry, music, poetry and a panel discussion.
Tickets are R99. For more information contact Joey Fourie on 084 880 7012.
On Sunday 20 November
he performs at Jazz in the Yard, 33 Leadwood Street, Bonteheuwel from 16:00 for
an intimate set of his classics. Tickets for this one cost R60. Call Gino Oliver
on 073 441 6863 for more information.