TOM HARK

Latest update on 22/02/2016

Artist: Elias & His Zigzag Jive Flutes
Author: Elias Lerole
Label: Columbia
Year: 1956

N°2 UK in '58 as themesong of BBC TV series The Killing Stones. Band name is an alias for South African Township group Black Mambazo with brothers Elias and Aaron Jack Lerole, pennywhistler from Alexandra (Soweto), better known as Big Voice Jack for his forced singing. Lost his deep voice by mis-using it, causing him throat cancer of which he died early in 2003. Jack whistled until the bitter end, as Director of the Kwela School of Music in Diepkloof. Kwela stands for pennywhistle, one of the only musical instruments tolerated among blacks. Couldn't be used as a weapon whatsoever. Tom Hark landed Jack & Elias recording fees of 6 guineas each. At first all royalties went to Elias since he was always broke. The next time it happened he sold the rights to his song for 20 Rand. That was before Bert Kaempfert's multi millionseller and even before his own n°2 UK in '58. EMI producer Rupert Bopape owned the copyright, because blacks simply were excluded to enjoy royalties under the Apartheid regime (see also: Mbube). The real title was in fact Tomahawk but the printer mis-spelt it grossly. ack and Elias performed as Black Mambazo prior to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Mambazo meaning hatchet in Zulu, there you have the Tomahawk (Tom Hark) connection.

Covers:

1958:

Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group

1958:

Ted Heath

1963:

Bert Kaempfert [similarity with A Swingin' Safari; in '76 he released it as Tom Hark]

1964:

Millie Small

1967:

Whistling Jack Smith

1967:

Georgie Fame

1969:

Dynamites [reggae version as John Public; produced by Clancy Eccles]

1976:

Bert Kaempfert [on lp Safari Swing Again]

1980:

Piranhas [top 10 UK with new lyrics]

1997:

Mango Groove

2004:

Ronnie Ronalde & The Beatbox Saboteurs

Sounds similar to the middle eight bars of Komponeng by The Manhattan Brothers ('54). Opening yell "Here come the kwela-kwela vans" (here comes the police) named a whole new music & dance movement in South Africa, encompassing Pata Pata. See also: New Year Rock.

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