Category: Interviews

Local rocker Piet Botha, 63, dies

Piet Botha. (Photo: Gallo Images)
Piet Botha. (Photo: Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Condolences are streaming in for South African musician Piet Botha after the news of his death was shared online, Netwerk24 reported.

Piet, 63, was a rocker and the son of former South African Minister of Foreign Affairs Pik Botha. He was also the frontman for the local band Jack Hammer.

According to a biography written by Brian Currin in October 2012 on Piet’s Facebook page, the singer was born in 1955 and shares his birth date of 18 July with Nelson Mandela. He began writing songs and forming bands while still at school and his first professional gig was as an acoustic duo in 1974 at a local drinking hole in Pretoria.

Piet was diagnosed with pancreas cancer about three months ago and recently cancelled a performance at the Strab Festival, reports Maroela Media.

In an interview with Rapport’s Hanlie Retief earlier this year, Piet spoke about his diagnosis saying that “he knew there was trouble” but thought it would be “okay”. Piet was later diagnosed with a very serious type of pancreas cancer named Adenocarcinoma which had spread throughout his body. “I knew death would catch up with me one day,” he said, adding: “But I never thought this soon”.

Piet is known for songs like Suitcase Vol Winter and Goeienag Generaal – to name but a few.

“Koebaai julle konings, koebaai… (Goodbye you kings, goodbye…),” wrote local singer Johrné van Huyssteen on Twitter alongside a photo of himself and Piet.

Channel24 has reached out to Piet’s family for comment but didn’t receive any feedback by the time of publishing this article. Should the family release a statement this article will be updated with the relevant information.

A documentary about the life of Piet Botha is currently in production.

Piet, whose father Pik died on 12 October 2018, leaves behind three daughters, Robynne, Jessica, and Piya, as well as his brother Roelof, and sisters Anna Hertzog, and Lien Botha.

Vagabond Show on All Jazz Radio, 13 June 2013 feat live interview with Piet Botha & Akkedis

Two hours of great blues on All Jazz Radio, featuring an interview with South African legends, Piet Botha (from Lyzyrd Kyngs & Jack Hammer) and Arthur & Rudi Dennis (from Akkedis & Lyzyrd Kyngs).

Interview starts at about 43 minutes.

 

Track list:
1 I’m A Blues Man by Magic Slim
2 Resessie Blues by Koos Kombuis
3 Got My Mojo Working by Crimson House Blues
4 Aus Liebe by Freygang Band
5 Suitcase Vol Winter by Piet Botha
6 When I Speak It’s Strange by Black Cat Bones
7 Frosty (1991 version) by Albert Collins
8 Too Old To Die Young by Brother Dege
9 Hold That Snake by Ry Cooder
10 Blue Shadows by The Blasters
11 Gypsy Boy by Lyzyrd Kyngs
12 Interview
13 Llandudno Blues #13 by Piet Botha & Jack Hammer
14 Blues Vir Louise by Piet Botha
15 Interview
16 Just Got Paid by ZZ Top
17 Street Of Love by Jack Hammer
18 Interview
19 Same Damn Blues by Lyzyrd Kyngs
20 Interview
21 Moan in Blues by Akkedis feat Albert Frost
22 Interview
23 Blues For Robert by Lyzyrd Kyngs
24 The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat) by The Doors
25 Interview
26 Morrison Hotel (TuksFM sessions version) by Jack Hammer
27 Interview
28 Eleven Churches by Jake Gunn
29 Interview
30 Mr. Midnight by Jack Hammer
31 The Way I See It by Johnathan Martin
32 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (live) by Johnny Winter

Ons praat met… > Onderhoud met Piet Botha van Jack Hammer (AKA: Sledge van Lyzyrd Kyngs) — Hy-Se-Sy-Se (HSSS)

Piet Botha maak al 33 jaar lank musiek. Julle ken hom dalk as die man agter Jack Hammer. Hy is ook deel van die Lyzyrd Kyngs wat onlangs by die Big Blues Festival op Kleinmond gespeel het. Ons het Piet oor die Blues fees en sy lang pad saam met musiek (en nogwat) uitgevra. – Elsibe Loubser

via Ons praat met… > Onderhoud met Piet Botha van Jack Hammer (AKA: Sledge van Lyzyrd Kyngs) — Hy-Se-Sy-Se (HSSS).

WAT ANDER SÊ

Vir enige musikant op die Suid-Afrikaanse rock-toneel, het Rock-guru Piet Botha geen bekendstelling nodig nie

Onderhoude en artikel deur Zippy

As lewende legende op die Suid-Afrikaanse musiektoneel het rock-guru Piet Botha bykans geen bekendstelling nodig nie. Maar hoe sien sy “kollegas” hom? Ons het ‘n paar van die kunstenaars wat op 25 Februarie by die Piet Botha Tribute-konsert (by die Foundry Fly Lounge in Pretoria) gaan optree, gevra om hulle gunsteling herinneringe aan en indrukke van Piet as mens met ons te deel

tribute-media-ad

ANTON GOOSEN – Musikant en skrywer

“Piet was destyds bassist vir Wildebeest, die eerste Afrikaanse rockgroep. Ons het ontmoet toe ek ‘n Wildebeest-projek produce het. Daarna het ek vir Piet gaan luister toe hy gereeld by die Grand Central Hotel in Pretoria gespeel het. In die Kommissie Van Ondersoek-dae was sy band ook ons backing band. Karlien van Niekerk van die Kommissie het gesê “Ek het gevrees vir die dag wanneeer Piet en Anton seriously connect.” Ons het.

Een aand gedurende ‘n show het die audience met hulle vingers in hul babas se ore uitgestorm toe ons “Moya” speel. Agterna het ‘n ou vir Piet en my gevra hoekom speel ons nie “iets rock en hard nie?” Toe sê Piet “Wat wil jy hoor? Judas Priest?”

Piet was ghitarist in my Bushrockband op die Danzer toer in ’93, en hy was ‘n absolute steunpilaar, hy het letterlik klippe uit die pad gerol. “Laat die pyn deur jou vingers vloei, my bra” was sy woorde op daardie toer. Hy moes een aand die ander ghitarist bietjie vasvat op stage. Daardie aand het Piet vanuit die donker na die lig voor op die stage geloop, en sy Marshall amp se volume op 11 gedraai. Dirk Uys het die geleentheid beskryf as ” ‘n Stucka gun wat losgebars het”.

As ek vir Piet in een sin moes beskryf: Nederig.

My gunsteling Piet Botha/Jack Hammer song: “Goeienag generaal”, “Warm heuning”

VALIANT SWART – Musikant en akteur

“In 1988 was ek ‘n troep in PW se army in Pretoria. As Jack Hammer in die Grand Central Hotel in Kerkstraat gespeel het, was ek op AWOL, by die gig. Met ons eerste aangesig-tot-aangesig ontmoeting het ek een van my songs (“Jacaranda”) aan hom probeer smous. Hy’t my heel ordentlik aangeraai om die song op ‘n demo-kasset op te neem en na die volgende gig te bring. Ek het dit natuurlik nooit gedoen nie – toe’t ek nog zero van sulke dinge geweet – en jare later het die song op een van my eie albums verskyn en vir lank ‘n standard in my eie band geword. Nog ‘n paar jaar later het hy ‘n paar van my ander songs opgeneem, op album gesit en live gespeel. Die wiel draai!”

As ek vir Piet in een sin moes beskryf: Skaam, nederig, misterieus, fynbesnaard, sensitief, galant en dapper.

My gunsteling Piet Botha/Jack Hammer song: “Sien jou weer” van Suitcase Vol WinterDie hele album is ‘n tydlose meesterstuk, waarskynlik sy beste werk.

LANIE VAN DER WALT – Vervaardiger van The Pilgrim, voormalige Jack Hammer kitaarspeler en lid van Not My Dog

“Ek het in 1993 vir Jack Hammer op guitar gejoin, en vir hulle gespeel tot in 1996. Daai tyd het ons HEAVY geparty!”

As ek vir Piet in een sin moes beskryf: Ken jy die Road?

My gunsteling Piet Botha/Jack Hammer song: “Midnight Angels”.

ARTHUR DENNIS – Musikant en lid van Akkedis

“By Wingerdstok in 1998 het ons die eerste keer met Piet en Jack Hammer se musiek kennis gemaak, en vir Piet backstage ontmoet. Ons so 3-4 jaar terug werklik goeie vriende met Piet begin raak en het daarna vir ‘n hele maand saam met hom getoer. In 2002 was ons saam met Piet in Londen en het saam met hom na ‘n Neil Young show gaan kyk, wat great was. Die Waterboys en Gary Moore het ook by die show opgetree. Ons was maar platsak op daardie stadium en ek onthou hoe ons saam met Piet Londen platgeloop het – en nie genoeg geld gehad het vir sigarette nie!”

As ek vir Piet in een sin moes beskryf: Piet sal die baadjie van sy rug af vir jou gee.

My gunsteling Piet Botha/Jack Hammer song: “Goeienag generaal”

GARETH WILSON – Musician and member of Southern Gypsey Queen

“The first time I heard of Piet was when a friend of mine played me Piet’s bootleg album. I immediately went out and bought all the Jack Hammer albums I could find. Working with Piet on our Sweet Voodoo album and being able to draw from his very deep well of wisdom was an incredible experience.”

If I had to describe Piet in one sentence: Most giving, intelligent, open-minded person I’ve met. Absolutely no ego.

My favourite Piet Botha/Jack Hammer song: “Bury me when”

Onderhoud | Michael Currin

Piet Botha se lewe het allerlei kinkels – hy het in Amerika gewerk, hy het ‘n oudpolitikus-pa (Pik Botha), hy het saam met die akteur Billy Bob Thornton gesing … ontmoet Piet Botha/Jack Hammer.

Piet is op 18de July 1955 gebore. Nelson Mandela se verjaarsdag is op dieselfde dag, maar Mandela is op 1918 gebore. Piet is nou 47 jaar oud.

  • Piet het twee identityte: hy is eerstens ‘n Afrikaanse sanger. Sy tweede identityt is as ‘n lid van die Engels hardrockgroep Jack Hammer.
  • Sy pa is Pik Botha, die gewese minister van buiteland se sake.
  • Piet het een van die eerste musiekgroepe gehad wat rok-musiek gespeel het, met Afrikaanse woorde.

Piet Botha het reeds in die 70s begin liedjies skryf en groepe vorm, toe hy nog op skool was. Sy eerste album is in 1981 vrygestel. Piet se liedjies gaan oor liefde, haat en politiek.

In 1984, begin Botha sy nuwe groep Jack Hammer. Die groep het 4 uitmuntende rock albums uitgegee. Botha het Billy Bob Thornton (Angelina Jolie se man) in die VSA ontmoet. Hulle het goeie maats geword. Thornton het dromme op die eerste Jack Hammer album gespeel.

Ek het ‘n onderhoud met Piet oor die telefoon gevoer. Ek het hom gevra wat sy gunstelling deel van die besigheid is. Hy se hy hou van die gevoel van tevredenheid as hy ‘n liedjie klaar geskryf het. En wat beskou Piet as sy beste albums? Hy het gese: “Suitcase vol Winter” en “Jack Hammer Anthology”. Ek het hom ook gevra of hy tans besig is met enige albums. Hy het gese dat daar twee albums in die pyplyn is: “Man met Kitaar” en die een vir 2003 het nog nie ‘n naam nie.

Om op te som: Wat Piet Botha ‘n legende maak is dat hy steeds aktief is in die musiek bedryf na 30 jaar en hy werk nogsteeds aan nuwe albums en speel gereeld by konserte en feeste.

— Michael Currin (age 13), August 2002
For a school project

Roadies but Goldies: Jackson

“… Laat Die Wiele Rol, O Jackson …”

Farewell To Jackson

by Moonshine Lee, 16 July 2001

The ‘fifth’ member of Jack Hammer, Hendry Jackson, jets out to Chicago USA tonight (16.07.2001) to pursue business interests there for awhile. A close and long standing friend, supporter, stalwart of the ‘Hammer’ over the past 23 odd years.

We celebrated two farewell gigs for Jackson in Pretoria, which is Jackson’s hometown, over the past weekend. Friday night (13.7.2001) saw a packed Café Barcelona, in Erasmuskloof, bid a fitting farewell to our ‘Brother-in-Arms’ with some seething rock ‘n’ roll from Jack Hammer. The short tour the Hammer and Johnathan Martin had in the UK in June, and having seen the likes of Neil Young, AC/DC and Buddy Guy live, has certainly put a razor sharp edge on their music. And bring the house down they did. What a send off ….’Laat die wiele rol, ou Jackson………….’

Sunday afternoon (15.7.2001) the celebrations moved to Glen Afrique, an exquisite bush pub situated in the midst of a game farm near Hartebeespoortdam. A better venue for the ‘grand finale’ ala bush style, one could not have asked for. The Hammer, Johnathan Martin with Mervin Davis on mandolin, bid their farewells to their good friend the only and best way they know, through their music……. (after all that’s what formed this bond in the first place!)

Jackson we wish you well and don’t see this as the end of an era, but in fact the start of something new. We’re sure you’ll be keeping your eyes and ears open for opportunities in the Chicago scene and we look forward to a time when we can meet up there with you.

For now, we want to say that it had been an honour and a privilege to have walked this road with you for the past 23 years. My friend, we’re sure going to miss you, but by the same token this break could not have happened to a finer man.

Salute Amigo!

Moonshine Lee, The Hammer, Jono the Kid Martin, Tertius and the Duke.


Roadies but Goldies — rock’s unsung heroes. The story of Jackson, the fifth Hammer on the Jack and the road less travelled.

by Bert Badgrass, January 2001

As this glorious beast we call rock ‘n roll gains in strength and finds new voices all the time, the vital role of the roadie is ritually overlooked and forgotten.

These unsung heroes who travel the length and breadth of the land, setting up the stage for the band, slinking back into their no-man’s land to savour the sounds during the gig, only to reappear when everybody’s gone home to pack up and head off for the next town.

Often running on empty – with apologies to Jackson Browne — these are truly the guys who live the rock ‘n roll lifestyle to the full. Without the glamour that performance brings.

And often, as is the case with Jack Hammer’s Jackson, it is a labour of love. Guys who plugged in to the alternative vision which rock offered way back when the world was young. Guys who bought, hook, line and sinker, the dream of peace and love offered by these “other” voices.

I caught up with Jackson at that national monument to consumerism — one of several in which have been erected in honour of Mammon in our land, mind — Menlyn Park in Pretoria.

He was busy with his daytime job — installing surveillance cameras, another latterday necessary evil, for an electronics company. Remember the days when the only Big Brother we gave the thumbs-up to was the one who headed the Holding Company, which backed Janis Joplin? Ah well … so it goes.

Jackson and The Hammer (aka Piet Botha) go way back to the late 1970s when Piet was playing with Abno at the Keg and Tankard in Pretoria. (Jacks and I go back even further: Palm Grove, Margate in December ’72 — ’76. Remember Shalima etc? As ex-Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi had it: Oh How We Danced!)

“I just started hanging out with Piet, digging his music and what he was doing. We became friends and I just helped out where I could as far as electronics were concerned. I sort of formally became Jack Hammer’s roadie — this was during their first incarnation — in the mid 80s.

“This was when we got the gig at Grand Central and the band did a light show. They needed someone who knew something about being a sparks and, well, I just naturally filled that role.

“In those days, the members included Piet and guys like Boet Faber, Paul van Eeden, Derek Riley and Eric Birkenstock — I have seen many Jacks, so to speak, come and go in my time, I tell you.”

There’s hardly an area of South Africa where Jack Hammer hasn’t performed in the past 15/16 years or so. Still, it’s been an unusual take on life, says Jackson — definitely the road less travelled.

Jacks does it for the love of it and out of his admiration for the band. “When we’re on the road, I’m looked after in terms of food and accommodation etc (plus, of course, a few other perks, not to mention temptations) but I don’t want money.

“That just means that the guys in the band get less. Yeah, I guess you could say it is a labour of love, although Piet does help me out if the need arises.

Altruistic or what?

In addition to taking care of the nuts and bolts of setting up etc — although that task these days fail more and more on the shoulders of guitarist Johnathan (“The Kid”) Martin and bassist Tertius (“Bean”) du Plessis — Jacks is also the band’s sternest critic.

“When I think they’ve been hot I’ll tell them that. But when they’ve, shall we say, fouled up, I tell them straight: ‘If you get 50% better you’ll be halfway there.

By the way, drummer Paul van de Waal is known As The Duke — “because he always looks smart”.

Jackson reckons the current Jack Hammer line-up is “just about the best we’ve ever had. We’ve had a few storms in the past, I tell you; let’s say it was down to personality clashes.”

Asked what his high point of his 20 or so years with Piet has been, Jackson singles out the ZZ Top tour — when Jack Hammer was the support act. “Ah, you know, everyday is a high point, whenever I hear the guys.”

“I’ve always been surrounded by so many great musicians that I count it a privilege.”

Low points are a bit more mundane — car/van breakdowns on the road. Once, the band’s combi caught fire just outside Bloemfontein. “A piece of sponge fell out of the engine on to the exhaust and the combi staretd smoking.”

“Some guys in another car who saw the smoke billowing out the back pulled us over — we thought we were being attacked or hijacked, heaven forbid — and helped us put out the fire. That was close, but we managed to save both the combi and the equipment — the show had to go on, you know.”

The biggest pluspoint of his job as roadie is meeting lots of different people; “good people and good music”. Pressed on the “temptations” referred to earlier, Jackson laughs and says: “Yeah, we travelled pretty hard in the old days — these days we take it a bit more easy.”

As a result of his lifestyle, Jackson prefers the life of a bachelor. “It’s like Ben Dekker said when he was asked if he had ever been married. He replied: ‘No. I’ve avoided all of life’s major mistakes’.”

He thinks of himself as an integral part of the band. “I always talk about ‘us’ or ‘we’ whenever we are on the road. More so when we are in other towns: You know, ‘we’re’ playing at such and such a venue tonight.”

Jackson says Piet’s Afrikaans work, notably Suitcase Vol Winter, had allowed them the opportunity to reach a much wider audience. “We even played in Vredendal on the West Coast. It’s great to see the audience — young and old — sing along with the songs.”

Well, that’s the great thing about music eh? It breaks down barriers.

Jackson favourite songs in Jack Hammer’s repertoire include some early ones, like Must’ve Been Dreaming and Cameron Road, as well as some great covers, the Stones’ Love In Vain and the Doors’ Texas Radio And The Big Beat.

So yeah: hey, hey, my, my; rock ‘n roll will never die. And to a large extent it is unsung heroes like Jackson who will ensure that the beast goes from strength to strength.

Thanks mate.

The growing number of Jack Hammer fans will be happy to hear that a new Piet Botha & Jack Hammer CD, entitled Bootleg, is now available.

As the title suggests, it is a live album, recorded at various locations up and down the country between May 1998 and April 2000, except for the two opening tracks, The Game and For Annette.

I love their version of Nick Drake’s Northern Sky — which isn’t surprising. There are also some original gems, like Blues Vir Louise, Goeienag Generaal and, of course, Suitcase Vol Winter — and I tell you, the blues never sounded so good in Afrikaans.

Led Zeppelin’s Tangerine (sung by Johnathan) is also there and is superb, as are Jack Hammer showstoppers like Runaway Train and Cocaine Blues. Jackson says the CD is available at live gigs. Good news is that the lads will be going into the studio towards the end of the year to record a brand new CD.

Keep on hammering away guys; we, your fans, are all jacked up! And thanks hey!

Reprinted from Pretoria website