12 January 2013

Zambia: Dr Footswitch - Zamrock Juju Man

A MULTITUDE of old faithfuls revere Dr Footswitch as a Zamrock guru whose influence has had far reaching implications on the local music scene.

A combination of expert guitar works and the message in Dr Footswitch's songs is what influenced most musicians of that time to jump on the path to deepen the roots of Zamrock music.

Tracing this influence to western heavy rock bands, a number of these musicians tried to imitate mainly British Rock groups like the Rolling Stones( with their popular song, Sympathy for the Devil) the Monkees, Archies (who sang Sugar sugar), Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles in almost everything ranging from stage gimmick to dress code.

And not to be outshined, Dr Footswitch is probably among those musicians who followed suit and his group the Rave Five, actually contacted the Rolling Stones to be part of them.

The band formed in 1966, featuring the cream of Zamrock musicians, even adopted names to go in line with those of the Rolling Stones.

For example, Keith Mlevhu, who played lead guitar, became "Keith Mickson", Dr Footswitch (Vocals) was nicknamed "Jagger", Joe Phiri on bass, adopted the name "Joe Richards", Watson Lungu (drums), was "Baldwin Watts" while Jerry Mausala on rhythm, and became "Jerry Edwards".

The aim of the band was to go to England and perform alongside the Rolling Stones but because of the adopted names it became literally impossible for them to secure passports and that are how the scheme failed to take off.

Born Teddy Khuluzwa in the late 1940s, probably with Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) ethnic origins, Dr Footswitch is one of those musicians whose bio data and discography is quite hard to come by and so are his songs.

Khuluzwa was sensational both off and on stage just like his idol, the former rolling stone front man Mick Jagger and he showed some excellence with his foot on the Wah Wah (foot-switch) earning himself the name Dr Footswitch.

•THE Rave Five- standing (left to right), Jerry Mausala, Watts Lungu, Dr Footswitch, and Joe Phiri. Seated is Keith Mlevhu

This is the man who cannot completely be ignored even in the middle of bands and musicians such as Amanaz, the Great Witch (formerly Kingstone Market), the Peace, previously called the Boyfriends, Keith Mlevhu, Rikki Ililonga, He- She Mambo, Teddy Chisi of the Fire Balls, Tinkles and the likes.

Apart from the Rave Five, Dr Footswitch also performed in a band called the Earth Quake, which was later transformed into the Lusaka Beatles specialising mainly in rock, blues and soul music.

While with the Rave Five, the outfit scooped the best Band award and the best dressed band during the mini Woodstock festival that was held at Jubilee Hall in the Lusaka show grounds in 1969.

The rampaging band beat the likes of The Migs, Suzi Q and the Earth Quake among others which, according to music pundits, was a cut throat and electrifying competition taking the whole day.

But Rave Five did not last long and some members including Dr Footswitch left in 1971, to form another explosive band called the Aqualung.

Dr Footswitch took up lead vocals while a new member and undoubtedly, Zambia's best drummer Jux Kasuba taking care of the skins, Mlevhu (lead) and Ricky Banda (Former president Rupiah Banda's younger brother) on bass.

The band toured Mufulira where they rocked the nights at the local country club an outing which revealed some cracks in the group forcing it to break up in 1973 and Dr Footswitch went back to Lusaka and immediately turned solo.

In his solo career, Dr Footswitch released tracks like Umfwiti Muleke, Girls make the scene and Tiyende Pamodzi, among others.

He released a solo album in 1976 called Everyday has a New Dream which commanded some good sales from his diehard fans.

Towards the close of the 1980s, he undertook a solo tour of South Africa where he had a short stint, but unfortunately passed on shortly upon return.

Former cultural services director in the late 1970s Stephen Chifunyise, has great admiration of the late Dr Footswitch and hoped more information could be provided on Zambia's legendary musicians.

"Musicians such as Dr Footswitch, Ililonga and others, contributed greatly to the evolution of Zamrock music," Chifunyise said.

Veteran musician Hector Sithole who was a young musician then when Dr Footswitch and the likes traversed the local music arena, had this to say;

"I best remember Dr Footswitch in the 1970s when they came to perform at Mufulira Country Club. I think he was a good musician," he said.

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