19 January 2013

Zambia: The Peace Band - Who Was Behind the Rampaging Group?

THEY were first christened the Boy Friends and a couple of years later transformed into a rampaging group whose beat pointed to Zamrock which rattled the local scene from the onset in the 1970s.

It was not an amateur group but a band of youngsters born with zeal to paint the local entertainment arena in Kitwe and the rest of the Copperbelt with red and that was how wild they were.

The band formed in 1969 was woven around George Kunda, who was popularly known as Groovy Holy Joe on drums, John 'Music' Muma on rhythm (who later went on to play for the Great Witch), and Stuggy Joe Kunda on bass, while Teddy Makombe was on lead guitar.

"Our parents were very supportive and bought us instruments. Teddy was then at a mine boarding school at Luanshimba in Chamboli area where he formed the Boy Friends," explains Collins Makombe, the younger brother of Teddy.

But shortly afterwards, Stuggy Joe left the band and in came Gideon Mulenga, then playing lead guitar in a band called the Throw stones in Chamboli Mine Township, who was on bass.

Years on, a local business executive, Christopher Kaluba bought a powerful new set of instruments and lured Gideon, Groovy Holy Joe and John Music to form the Kingstone Market.

They went on form what became the Great Witch, this time under Phillip Musonda who ran Kapenta Bar in Kitwe's Kwacha Township.

Left with no option, Makombe recruited Bruce Kaunda from the Red Balloons on rhythm, Saul Manda taking bass and Brower Machuta on drums.

This is the group that constituted the Peace Band and soon was posing stiff competition to emerging bands like the Witch, Tinkles, Blackfoot (initially managed by former Times of Zambia staffer Sam Kamphodza) and the Fire Balls.

"We jammed in places like Coffee House at Mindolo Ecumenical Centre, Lido in Wusakile, Buchi Hall and Mindolo dam and also during gala weeks," revealed Collins, who was the band's road manager.

In an interview last week at Kitwe's Hotel Edinburgh, Collins believes the Peace were a great band whose beat was not very different from that of the Witch and other bands that existed then.

"We even had camp houses like Sugarland and Scranton Villa in Kitwe and another, Scramanga in Mufulira, where we could lock ourselves up for serious rehearsals," Collins continued.

After countrywide shows which saw them perform on the Copperbelt and Central, Luapula, Northern and North-Western provinces, the group entered into a contract with Zambia Music Parlour director, the late Edward Khuzwayo for the recording of their debut album, Black Power in 1973.

The album recorded at Chingola's Malachite studio had songs like Black Power, Mercy, Ichamba no Bwalwa, and Peaceful Man, among them.

In 1976, the Peace undertook a three-week tour of Botswana and performed at Selebi Phikwe, Francistown and Gaborone which Collins described as highly successful as the band made more money than what it had realised from record sales.

The band settled to compile another album, Black is Beautiful, but it could not be put on wax due to a number of reasons some of which were marketing challenges.

"We could not release our second album because we did not make enough money on the first album as we were not directly involved in the marketing process," Collins said.

Apart from failure to reach a decision on whether they could do it on their own or not, other problems creeped in and the members started to differ among themselves.

"Ours was like a family business because we owned the instruments and we were three brothers - me, Teddy and Cassmore and members thought we were getting a lion's share from the proceeds. So, that was the beginning of the end for the Peace," Collins said.

The brothers, however, tried to perform here and there, but not on a large scale. Teddy and Collins on the other hand intensified their other talent as painters and artists, doing quality sign writing around the country.

But soon afterwards, in 1994, the cold hand of death struck and Teddy, at the age of 54, was no more and the band completely went under, but left a trail of flickering lights showing that there once existed a band called "THE PEACE" and the chapter closed.

Of the current music, Collins quipped; "This is really not music. These are not musicians but singers and should run away from programmed music as well as singing always about love.

"There are so many things to sing about. People should be original and believe in them and not to rush into recording."

Collins, now in his '50s and happily married with three children, two girls and a boy, is a born-again Christian and a pastor at Calvary Christian Church and Ministries in Kitwe.

He is now working on some gospel songs in readiness for the forming of a band which will include veteran musicians and contemporaries of his.


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