7 June 2013

Zambia: It's the Peanut Party Again!

ZAMROCK fans of the 1970s just dismissed the band as mere "Peanuts" when it first appeared on the scene and after close scrutiny of the group's music, they swallowed their words and toed along with the group as it rocked the music arena.

The group was in a hurry to establish itself and soon afterwards, came to terms with the taste of the ecstatic fans.

This is an outfit once called The Peanuts, which was born during the battle of Zamrock bands and became combative and such, became its nature.

Formed in 1974, out of an idea of the two Kitwe business executives led by former boxer the late John Chinyanta, the Peanuts attracted some of the best musicians to its fold, taking it to higher heights as it traversed the whole Copperbelt, Lusaka and Southern provinces in search of fame.

Formation of the band which was based in Kitwe's Chimwemwe Township was made possible when Chinyanta and a Mr Chibesa, bought the band a set of instruments and contacted Govan Simpungwe to recruit other musicians.

Not to be outdone, the band neatly fitted well and followed the trail of the Great Witch, Peace (Formerly called Boy Friends) Tinkles, Born Free, Cross Town Traffic( then called the Cross Bones, later New Cross Bones and afterwards, Amayenge), Osaye Party and Jeff and the Explosives, which were formed within the first five years from 1970.

The three-man band had Goodwin Malanda (Bass), Ronald "Gringo" Bwalya playing drums while, Simpungwe was on Lead guitar.

Later, the band roped in former Kingston Market lead guitarist Jackmore Mulenga, who came on second guitar to complete the formation.

"It was initially a three-man band whose impact was felt by the fans. But later on, we recruited Jackmore who came from the Kingston Market," said Simpungwe who apparently, is the only surviving member of that band.

"We did a lot of work along the line of rail up to Livingstone playing mainly hard rock from the likes of Deep Purple, Grand Funk, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, you name them, we did all that music because the fans were so crazy about it," Simpungwe explained in a recent interview in Lusaka.

The band's hour of reckoning came in 1976, when it landed a first contract to perform at the then Falcon Hotel in Ndola.

"We landed a contract to perform at the Falcon. This is where the real character of our fans was revealed.

"We played everything, like hard rock pop and country music," Simpungwe said.

The following year, the band toured Southern Province under the promoter Sydney Makuwa who also secured a contract at Rainbow Lodge where the band remained for the following 18 months.

The same year in 1976, the band entered DB studio to cut four singles with a Zamrock touch, which were released by Teal Record Company in Ndola.

These were, Just Give A Little Time, Zambian Woman, Sugar Mummy and Freedom to All of Us, whose sales were encouraging on the local market.

In 1978, the band toured the line of rail ending up in Southern Province again.

But things changed for worse when their promoter dumped and walked out on them with all the gate takings without paying them allowances.

The group was stranded for a while surviving on well wishers until it landed a contract at a Bar in Sesheke and later in Mwandi.

But this also did not work well as their manager also dumped them taking all the money due to them.

"You can see that all our promoters and managers ran away from us leaving the whole band to fend for itself.

"It was tough and we did not know what to do. We were stranded there for a long time," Simpungwe said.

It was in Mwandi that Simpungwe feeling more frustrated, left the band to head for Lusaka leaving his colleagues struggling for survival and since they had the equipment, they started playing here and there to raise money for survival.

"I left in frustration leaving the band in Mwandi.They remained with the equipment and I don't really know what happened afterwards because I headed back to Lusaka," Simpungwe said.

It was at this point in the same year, 1979 that Simpungwe became born again, surrendering his life to Jesus at Calvary Church in Lusaka.

He later went to Kitwe where he joined the Maranatha congregation in Parklands and became a member of the Church band, mixing with Pastor Sky Banda on Rhythm, former Oscillations front man Victor Kasoma on lead, former Amanaz member Jerry Mausala (Bass) while, Simpungwe was on drums.

Simpungwe now married with five children, later left for Lusaka where he is now working as a security officer with Amcor Security Company.

On the current music by the youngsters, Simpungwe said; "It is the quality that I am worried about.

The so called musicians themselves lack exposure and experience on how to play live music."

Simpungwe, who has composed dozens of rock gospel songs, wants to find sponsors so that he can have his music recorded.

"I am really keen to do music and so far, I have composed a number of songs, all rock gospels which I want to release once I find some sponsors," he said.

He lamented the collapse of the Zambian music industry saying, since the departure of promoters such as Edward Khuzwayo and Billy Nyati, there has never been formidable people to fill up the gap.

Comments-benjphiri990@gmail.com-0971 933809-website: www.times.co.zm

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