Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse is much more than one of South Africa’s most admired and respected musicians; he is a living legend.
With almost 50 years of musical accomplishment and history behind him, Mabuse’s influence on the industry that given him a voice that continues to grow in leaps and bounds.
Mabuse was born in 1951 and began playing drums from the age of 8. He would later master the instrument to such an extent that he quickly gained the nickname "Hotstix", a name that follows him to this day.
He began his career as a professional musician at the age of 15 and during his high school years, he formed his first band called The Beaters. The Beaters evolved to become Harari, one of the most successful acts that dominated the South African music scene in 1970’s.
In 1978, the group was invited to perform in the USA with Hugh Masekela and during the tour, the band’s leader Selby Ntuli died, leaving Sipho as the new front man.
In his solo capacity, Mabuse continued to create great, original South African-born music. In 1985, his single ‘Burn Out’ catapulted him to a new level of fame, turning him into a much applauded success. Released the year PW Botha declared a state of emergency, the impeccably funky township disco jive jam became the first major crossover hit in South Africa, selling in excess of half a million copies.
Mabuse says that he has kept great memories of Kippies.
Unfortunately when they broke it down, I don’t think there was any thought to what was in there from those who felt that Kippies must go.— Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, prominent musician
There was a feeling that the building was going to collapse but it didn’t, it’s still there and we had left some fantastic stuff there says Mabuse.
The privilege of running that kind of jazz club is that you get to meet some of the greatest musicians, and listen to some of the best music.— Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, prominent musician
Mabuse says that the only musician who hadn’t performed at Kippies is Abdullah Ibrahim. After Ibrahim’s concert at Bassline, he came to visit me says Mabuse. While looking at all the pictures on the wall, Ibrahim said that I have his picture with everybody else, but I’ve never let him at my club he adds. Mabuse says that he responded by saying: ‘Abdullah, I wish I could afford you’.
Mabuse says that he was very eager for Bill Clinton to play at Kippies but the security establishment was a bit hectic for him.
He was going to play the saxophone, and we all waited for him.— Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, prominent musician
[WATCH] Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse in studio talking about his musical journey
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This article first appeared on 702 : Profile interview with Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, the gentle giant of SA music