Monday, 25 February 2013

King Kennedy - Meeting Up (1975)

In the South African context of 1975 it's not difficult to imagine urban, affluent and politically conscious black consumers being drawn to this cover. Vinyl diggers and archaeologists have been similarly drawn in by the imagery and the suggestions contained therein. But all is not what it seems.

The record label on which King Kennedy appears is EMI Brigadiers, which came into being just two years earlier in 1973 as a joint venture between EMI and local company Brigadiers. In the Billboard report of the time Brigadiers was noted as the largest producer of indigenous product in South Africa. Brigadiers had been responsible for recordings by the Zorro Five, Buttercup, the Drakenberg Boys Choir, Min Shaw, Kobus en Hannelie amongst others. The new label continued with indigenous artists such as Pacific Express, Richard Jon Smith, Steve Kekana as well as artists signed to EMI internationally. Of the joint-venture, the chairman of Brigadiers, Albie Venter said "It's a breakthrough for South African independent record producers, artists and composers." (Billboard, 24/3/1973)  

The King Kennedy album is credited as "An EMI Brigadiers Studio production" and follows a similar South African pattern of record production and promotion where the performing artist remains uncredited. We had a similar conundrum with the 1969 Brigadiers released Zorro Five album Reggae Shhh ( With a little more research we were able to establish that Zorro Five was a group created and led by Zane Cronje, who won the Best Beat Group SARI Award in 1971 with Zorro Five. Cronje went on to create similar fusion for soundtracks the most notable of which was for the film Snakedancer (, that featured South African stripper Glenda Kemp and her python Oupa.   

Perhaps then it's no surprise then that King Kennedy is not the bearded and bare chested black man holding the flute with raised fist. It is the nom de plume of John Eric Boshoff (aka Johnny Boshoff), a leading session musician, composer and arranger. Credits for Boshoff pop up all over the place - he played with the Square Set, Neil Cloud, the SADF Band, composed and arranged a number of film soundtracks (see IMDB and was a key figure behind the breakthrough album that launched Juluka onto the international stage (African Litany). Al Hall Jnr (from the Mallory Hall Band and the Kirk Lightsey album Habiba) talks very highly of him and Boshoff was the only South African to play on an all-star line-up for those recordings replacing Monk Montgomery who, for contractual reasons, could not play. 

Listening to the record today it's not difficult to imagine John Boshoff enlisting the skills of Zane Cronje for the album. Whether Boshoff enlisted leading black performers for this remains unclear but given that he worked extensively with Robbie Jansen on a number of projects I would surmise that it is indeed Jansen on flute. Requests for further information from Johnny Boshoff have not been successful.

EMI Brigadiers disappeared around 1983 although the Brigadiers name did continue to be used by Albie Venter for a film production company until his death in 1990. Take a listen and let us know what you think. More unknown pleasures?

King Kennedy - Meeting Up (EMI Brigadiers, RGL 1006, 1975) 
1. Meeting Up
2. Ride on Scorpio
3. Midnight Moon
An EMI Brigadiers Studio Production



  1. I would like to listen this King Kennedy's album.
    If you can re-upload again for all uf us, please let me to know.
    Many thanks in advance and a big hug from Madrid.


  2. I had the LP (vinyl record) years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Would it be possible to upload this album again because the links are dead. I would really appreciate it. Many thanks in advance for a true gem of a recording.


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