Tripping the light fantastic - Psychedelic South Africa 1968-1972

Although the South African rock movement of the late sixties and early seventies was not a major commercial success, it's participants heralded an exciting new age in South African rock and started a movement aimed at changing the musical tastes of fans in a spectacular way. Stadium concerts became the vehicle for feeding the youth with heavier rock sounds and behind studio glass were producers like Clive Calder, Billy Forrest, Graham Beggs and Selwyn Miller who acted as change agents to transform conventional pop into heavier 4 to 5 minute songs. The movement's struggle for recognition through airplay remained unanswered and only the true fans of rock knew about their existence.

Smashing instruments and 5 minute plus recordings were not everbody's cup of tea and neither did record companies go out of their way to market the rock revolution in South Africa.

Clive Calder, one of rock's premier custodians, had this to say in 1971: "Rock is the biggest thing in music today. It's the universal language of the young generation. A handful of bands produced highly creative music and young South Africa welcomed them with open arms. Gullible powers retaliated by banning or restricting their artistic influence and radio stations ignored them! But ROCK accepted them!"

Tertius Louw, June 2005


  1. The Whip - Suck
  2. Astral III - The Invaders
  3. The Boy And The Bee - Omega Limited
  4. Straight Ahead - Otis Waygood
  5. My Back Feels Light/What Can You Say - Abstract Truth
  6. The Eagle Has Landed - Dickie Loader with Freedom's Children
  7. You Keep Me Hanging On - The Flames
  8. Blurry Visions - Buzzard
  9. Fire - The Third Eye
  10. Predictions - Hawk
  11. Kafkasque - Freedom's Children
  12. Blue Machines and Dreams - Bryan Miller's Destruction
  13. The Mad Professor - John and Philipa Cooper
  14. Cathy Come Home - The Fireflies
  15. Morning Light - Tidal Wave
  16. Race With The Devil - The Bats
  17. Magic Dragon - The Idiots
  18. Birds Flying High - McCully Workshop

Abstract Truth - My Back Feels Light/What Can You Say

Album: Cool Sounds For Heads (1970)

Ken E Henson: guitar

Peter Measroch: keyboards

Sean Bergin: Sax, flute

George Wolfaardt: drums

Pastoral progressive rock from Durban's Abstract Truth. This track was recorded during the 'Silver Trees' sessions, but only appeared on the 'Cool Sounds For Heads' compilation.Both 'Silver Trees' and 'Totum' have been reissued on a single cd.

Bryan Miller's Destruction - Blue Machines And Dreams

Single 1969

Bryan Miller: vocals

Keith Lentin: guitar

Steve Acutt: bass

Anton Fig: drums

Sammy James: keyboards

Cape Town band Bryan Miller's Destruction combined psychedelic pop and soul on a handful of singles in the late 60's.Bryan went on to become a highly successful international music promoter and manager. Keith and Anton formed Hammak and both emigrated to the US to pursue successful careers in music

Buzzard - Blurry Visions

Single 1971

Errol Friedman: guitar

Ralph "Gawksy" Madeira: bass

Cedric Samson: vocals, drums

Formed after the breakup of the legendary Fireflies,Buzzard released two singles in the early 70's before splitting.This psychedelic rock singles is one of the true gems of the period.

Dickie Loader with Freedom's Children - The Eagle Has Landed

Album: A Breath Of Fresh Air (1970)

Dickie Loader: vocals

Barry Irwin: bass

Julian Laxton: guitar

Colin Pratley: drums

This unusual pairing of pop singer Dickie Loader with the psych sounds of Freedom's Children was the brainchild of Clive Calder. This space rock song pays tribute to the first moon landing which had taken place just a few months before. 'Eagle' was the name of moon landing vehicle and the lyrics even quote Neil Armstrong's immortal 'one small step…' line.

Freedom's Children – Kafkasque

Album: Battle Hymn Of The Broken-Hearted Horde (1968)

Ramsay MacKay: Bass

Julian Laxton: Guitars

Colin Pratley: Drums

Nic Martens: Keyboards

Dennis Robertson: Vocals

Stevie van Kerken: Vocals

A track from the ultra rare Freedom's Children debut album.The band had moved from covering Yardbirds and Rolling Stones songs to a whole concept album composed by genius Ramsay Mackay. Female backing vocals provided by Stevie Van Kerken who later married Robert John 'Mutt' Lange.

Hawk – Predictions

Album: Africa She Too Can Cry (original SA version) (1972)

Dave Ornellas: Vocals

Mark "Spook" Kahn: Guitar

Braam Malherbe: Drums

Les "Jet" Goode: Bass

Julian "Ipi" Laxton: Guitar

Ivor Back: Drums

Alfred "Ali" Lerfelo: African drums, vocals

Billy "Knight" Mashigo: Percussion, vocals

Audrey Motaung: Vocals, percussion

Pete Kubheka: Vocals, percussion

Left off the UK version of 'Africa She Too Can Cry',this classic afro-rock track features the extended lineup of the band that toured and recorded in the UK.

John & Philipa Cooper - The Mad Professor

Album: The Cooperville Times (1969)

John & Philippa Cooper: vocals

Julian Laxton: lead guitar

Ivor Back: drums

Werner Krupski: keyboards

Art de Villiers: acoustic guitar

Bob Hill: bass

Francesco: fiddle

Rory Blackwell: tambourine

Spooky psychedelic folk featuring the unmistakable guitar sounds of Julian Laxton. Very little is known about this band however their rare debut album is a collectors item worldwide.

McCully Workshop - Birds Flying High

Single b-side 1972

Mike McCully: drums, vocals

Tully McCully: vocals, bass

Bruce Gordon: guitars, percussion, vocals

Ian Smith: flute, trumpet, percussion

Recorded during the sessions for 1971's 'Genesis' prog concept album, this plaintive song featuring the flute and trumpet playing of Ian Smith, was only previously available on the b-side of the 'Rainbow Illusion' single. Interestingly the LM Radio DJ's flipped this single over and this song peaked at number 9 on the LM Radio Charts in 1972.

Omega Ltd - The Boy And The Bee

Single b-side 1970

Louis Greeff: guitar

Alan Weinberg: bass

Mike Brand: drums

Derek Gordon: keyboards, guitars, vocals

The b-side of the 'Tchaikovsky One' single featured this cover of a Gun track. Louis Greeff's guitar buzzes and zooms dramatically on this psyched-out version of Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Flight Of The Bumble-Bee'.

Otis Waygood - Straight Ahead

Album: Ten Light Claps And A Scream (1971)

Rob Zipper: vocals, guitars, saxophones

Ivor Rubenstein: vocals, percussion

Leigh Sagar: guitars, organ

Benny Miller: guitars

Alan Zipper: bass

A driving instrumental track from Otis Waygood's 3rd album, 'Ten Lights Clap And A Scream'. This is Otis in full flight and highlights the band's then increasing move away from their blues roots to a more harder rock sound.

Suck - The Whip

Album: Time To Suck (1970)

Stephen "Gil" Gilroy: guitar

Saverio "Savvy" Grande: drums

Louis "Moose" Forer: bass

Andrew Ionnides: vocals

Classic metal track from Suck's lone contribution to the history of South African rock. 'The Whip' is the only group-composed song amongst their scorching covers of the heavy hits of the time.

The Bats - Race With The Devil

Album: Turn You On (1969)

Eddie Eckstein: vocals, drums

Paul Ditchfield: vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass

Barry Jarman: guitar, trumpet, bass

Pete Clifford: vocals, guitar

If Quentin Tarantino had known about this Tex Mex-meets-Psych version of the classic Gun track he would have definitely found a place for it in one of his movies.

The Fireflies - Cathy Come Home

Single 1968

Errol Friedman: guitar

Ralph "Gawksy" Madeira: bass

Cedric Samson: vocals, drums

Gary Harrison: guitar

Alan Goldstein: guitar

Pop-psych sounds from Johannesburg group the Fireflies featuring a very young Cedric Samson. Errol Friedman is the brother of Rabbitt's Ronnie Robot.

The Flames - You Keep Me Hanging On

Album: Soulfire!! (1968)

Steve Fataar: guitar, vocals

Brother Fataar: bass, vocals

Baby Duval: guitar, vocals

Blondie Chaplin: guitar, vocals

Ricky Fataar: drums

Taking the Vanilla Fudge rearrangement of the Supremes hit and adding their own inimitable style, made this song a stand-out track on the brilliant 'Soulfire!!' album.

The Idiots - Magic Dragon

Single b-side 1968

Jimmy Retief: vocals

Reggie Edwards: bass guitar

Peter Hunt: organ

Jock de Coito: lead guitar

Keith Hall: drums

Psychedelic pop from the winners of the 1967 Battle Of The Bands featuring the vocal talents of the late Jimmy Retief.

The Invaders - Astral III

Album: There's A Light, There's A Way (1970)

Joey Moses: lead guitar, vocals

Errol Gobey: rhythm guitar, vocals

Johnny Burke: bass

Dave Burke: drums

Spewy Pillay: organ

Funky organ-driven rock song from Cape Town group The Invaders. Sounds like these guys had been listening to Rare Earth, and judging by the guitar solo, maybe some Hendrix as well.

Third Eye – Fire

Single 1968

Ronnie Selby: guitar

Maurice Saul: vocals, guitar

Dawn Selby: piano, organ

Robbie Pavid: drums

Mike Sauer: bass

A raucous brassy cover of the Arthur Brown classic. This track was later re-recorded and extended into an 8 minute, 3-part suite and released on their 3rd album 'Brother' in 1970.

Tidal Wave - Morning Light

Album: Tidal Wave (1970)

Mike Pilot: Vocals, guitar

Ken Haycock: bass

Mike Koch: drums

Aiden "Dooley" Mason: keyboards

Psychedelic sounds from a band better known for their pop hits like 'Spider Spider' and 'Mango Mango'. Mike Pilot's fuzz guitar is an absolute delight.


Pics courtesy of Cedric Samson, Robbie Pavid, Bryan Millar, Mike McCully, Fresh Music.

Digitally remastered from vinyl and original analog tapes by Tully McCully @ Spaced Out Sounds.

Licensing: Tracks 3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16 licensed courtesy of Gallo Record Company

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17 licensed courtesy of EMI Records; Track 18 licensed courtesy of McCully Music; Track 15 licensed courtesy of Angela Music.

Fresh Music would like to thank: Rob Allingham & Donna Peterson @ Gallo, Patrick Whelan @ EMI,Tully McCully @ Spaced Out Sounds, Terry & Carrie Dempsey @ Angela Music, Tertius Louw

Special thanks to Tertius Louw for liner notes, pics and music

Liner notes: Tertius Louw, Brian Currin & Benjy Mudie, thanks to Garth Chilvers & Tom Jasiukowicz for their research notes from the book " History of contemporary music of South Africa (Toga Publishing).

Retro reissue produced by Benjy Mudie and Brian Currin for Fresh Music.

Artwork by Rushni Nordien and Yumna Sadan.










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