Down Musical Memory Lane – Gypsies, Surely They Are in the Annals of Musical History 10 Hours Ago

They might have lived in the shadow of their more illustrious musical opponents in the shape of the Ugly Creatures and Baronages bands but the Gypsies pop band certainly left its mark in the annals of domestic music.

The six piece pop band came into life in the early seventies at the time when live music entertainment was in heavy demand. Traveling South African bands led by the Tulips, Flamingoes, Mighty Bridge, The Rockets, Bloodshed, Jacky, Prumes, Richard-Jon Smit and Lionel Peterson, all inspired many local musicians to hit the stage. Under the stewardship of lead guitarist, Oscar Gariseb, the Gypsies band gutted the musical scene like a fire would gut a house as the local music scene was undergoing a facelift with the traditional Mbaqanga music slowly and surely giving way for the new genre of rock, pop, soul and funky music.

With the streetwise gravel voice of Accoty “Twice” Ouseb, on lead vocals, the new kid on the block, Gypsies, captured the imagination of local music revelers. Accoty’s popularity was enhanced by the mature fashion in which he blurred out the lyrics of the hit song, Sylvia’s Mother by Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. The Gypsies front man was also very much at home with cover versions by the Bachman Turner Overdraft (BTO), Grand Funk, Hot Chocolate and Deep Purple. The band’s lineup was made up of Oscar Gariseb (lead guitar), Snakes Engelbrecht (drums), Otto Gawaxab (bass), August Noadeb Gaoseb, Oortjies Cloete (keyboards) and Accoty Ouseb (lead vocals).

The untimely passing of the Tarzan-like muscular drummer, Snake Engelbrecht, necessitated a major change in playing personnel – hence the inevitable arrival of seasoned drummer and soul singer Immanuel-Baby Tjirimuje. The latter arrived at the same time as novice vocalist Sledge Kanime while afro haired Axatib, shifted behind the four strings (bass) replacing the departing Gawaxab. The band’s repertoire change for the better with a rich harmony section with the multi talented Baby Tjirimuje, Fanie Kasingo and Tinsie Hans teaming up with young Sledge to complete the band’s previously fragile harmony department. The quartet filled the void vacated by the dreadlocked lead singer “Twice” of Sylvia’s Mother fame.

Gypsies enjoyed large following in towns such as Keetmanshoop, Mariental, Gobabis, Tsumeb, Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Khorixas and Grootfontein, while the spacious Katutura Community Hall in Windhoek used to be their happy rendezvous.

However, the band folded mysteriously for no apparent reason when some of the founding members lost interest and resolved to disband the musical ensemble.

“It just came as a surprise to many of us because for some strange reason we abandoned the tradition of gathering for our regular rehearsals,” recalls Noadeb, a diehard Orlando Pirates supporter. The latter hails from a musical family, his late younger sibling Isascar, used to be a formidable saxophonist and Mbaqanga guitarist of note during the days of Ou Leyden Naftalie, playing alongside the highly gifted Mbaqanga guitarist Killer Kamberipa.

Elder brother, the late Topsen “Topio” Afrikaner, an elegant dresser was a fast as lightning right-winger with Orlando Pirates and a damn good athlete during his younger days.

Noadeb’s youngest son, Randall 10, is a much-sought-after upcoming drummer who on few occasions has been backing church choirs at major gatherings keeping the beat intact and also performed in Cape Town recently.

Source : New Era