South African Music: 101 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know

The South African Music Scene is a bubbling and vibrant entity. It’s constantly changing and evolving on a daily basis. If you’re a fan of South African Music you’re probably curious about finding out more about the bands and artists you’re listening to.



Take note that this article contains facts about bands, artists, festivals and venues that play a huge part in the scene. I trust that you’ll find this interesting.

South African Flag

Here are 101 Interesting South African Music Facts:

1. Francois van Coke’s changed his surname to stop journalists and fans from calling his parents.

2. Fokofpolisiekar played a show at Hotbox Studios in Pretoria a few years ago. The band mistook a girl who was looking for the bathroom as a crazy fan-girl and stopped her from going backstage. She ended up peeing on the stage.

3. Van Coke Kartel was one of the hardest working rock bands in the SA Music scene in 2011. I watched them perform no less than 11 times in that year at festivals like RAMFest and Oppikoppi and venues like Arcade Empire.

4. To date aKING has released 5 studio albums. Their first album (Dutch Courage) was released 10 years ago. Feeling old yet?

5. Matthew Mole became famous after he won Converse Get Out Of The Garage in 2012.

6. Theo Crous (the lead guitarist from Springbok Nude Girls) is one the top producers in the SA Music Scene. He’s produced albums for Van Coke Kartel, Prime Circle and The Parlotones (to name just a few).

7. The first band weekend was held in on the Oppikoppi farm was held in 1994. Tickets were priced at R30 per person and about 300 people attended. The first Oppikoppi festival was held in 1995.

8. Splashy Fen (which is held in the Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal every year) is the oldest music festival in South Africa. It was established in 1990.

9. Up The Creek (which is held on the banks of the Breede River in the Western Cape) is the second longest running music festival in South Africa. It was also established in 1990.

Up The Creek - South African Music

10. The first edition of Mieliepop Festival (which is held near Lothair in Mpumalanga) was held in 2011. Only 120 people attended the first edition (and that figure includes festival goers, artists and staff).

11. SA Afro-Jazz legend Hugh Masekela released a total of 49 studio albums between 1962 and 2016. He died in January 2018.

12. South African Male choral group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo have won 5 Grammy Awards. They won their first Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording in 1988.

13. Seether were originally known as Saron Gas. The band was founded in Pretoria, South Africa in 1999.

14. Southern Gypsey Queen was founded in 1999 in Molteno in the Eastern Cape. They were originally known as “Bombay Duck”.

15. In an interview a few years ago Desmond and the Tutus listed their influences as “Snoop Doggy Dog, Michael Jackson, Michael Buble, Michael Jordan, Michael Stevens, George Michael… actually anybody with a ‘Michael'”

16. Satanic Dagga Orgy have fake beards and moustaches to protect their real identities as high ranking members of the Freedom Front Plus.

17. Warwick from Hellcats (the garage rock kings of SA Music) takes excited poos before he plays shows.

18. To date South African singer-songwriter Ashton Nyte (the frontman of The Awakening) has released a total of 7 solo albums – The Awakening has released 8. He has been residing in the USA since 2009.

19. Greg Carlin from Zebra & Giraffe had to find additional band members in order to perform live shows after their first single (“The Knife”) topped the South African charts in 2008.

South African Music: 101 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know 1

20. Shortstraw was formed in 2007 as a two-piece act consisting of Oliver Nathan (drums and backing vocals) and Alastair Thomas (lead vocals and guitar).

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Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Roelie Rautenbach

    Hi Henno, I think an interesting exercise for you would be to look into the folk music revival that is currently burgeoning in SA as well as in the UK and USA. In particular, Cape town has a many active Folkies like Bill Knight, Dax Butler, Jenny and the Jameses and plenty more. KZN still has the famous Dave Marks ( Master Jack, Mountains of men, writer) Jacob’s Saw, The Hinds Brothers and also a bunch of others. Colin Shamley is in PE and unfortunately Brian Finch is currently troubled with cancer and a folk musos campaign is on to gather funds for his treatment.

  2. Jan Labuschagne

    The first weekend music-festival was held in Kromdraai (outside Jhb) in 1986.It was called “Concert on the Farm” 20 odd bands played among them the Cherry Faced Lurchers, Mapansula, The Genuines and many other great acts of the time. 3 more Concerts were held-last one in 1997. A LOT of SA bands played there at the various events (the last one had 40 odd bands including Nude Girls, Wonderboom, Just Jinger,Urban Creep etc etc. ) Never made enough money to continue though!

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