OUR generation often lays claim to being the ultimate innovators, but those who precede us are the true trailblazers. Few can disagree that Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse is a pioneer that paved the way, through his wide-ranging styles of music.
Hotstix turns 67 years-old today and still rocks stages as he did over 50 years ago when he began his career, albeit without vigour of that 15 year-old boy who was part of The Beaters.
He’s a music connoisseur who has mastered a slew of instruments; He plays the piano, alto flute, saxophone and the kalimba. But he first fell in love and mastered the drums at the age of eight, thus the name Hotstix being bestowed on him.
The Beaters soon later became Harari, and they were an unconventional band that fused traditional African music with disco, jazz and funk in the 1970s. From being part of an eclectic ensemble, Hotstix showed his versatility with solo hit, Burn Out in 1985. It was a volatile period in South Africa at the time; Apartheid South Africa president PW Botha had declared a state of emergency in the same year.
Selling over half a million copies, Burn Out was one of the first crossover South African tracks. It’s a South African classic thanks to its township disco jive and the love story that many can relate to.
Hotstix’s musicality is second to none. Because of his command of instruments, his sound has unique strong instrumentation, despite the genre. His stuff is enough to please a stout jazz kat and still make the man on the street vibe to it.
Here are just some tracks which show the man’s genius, versatility and timelessness: