Monday, 22 April 2013

Frankie and the Springbok Nude Girls

Frankie and the Springbok Nude Girls
22 April 2013

I wish my Dad was still around today.  There is much I would have liked to discuss with him.  Questions I would have liked to ask. 

I would have enjoyed the enjoyment he got from my kids and from seeing them grow up.  He would have loved their quirkiness and wacky sense of humour.  He would have taken pride in their accomplishments and would have been a fun grandpa to have around.

As for me?  There is much he still could have taught me too.  Good times we could have had together.  I would have asked him more details about his incredible works of art.  Where he got his inspiration from.  As for the musical side of things?  I would have asked him, how he managed to be so visionary.  How he had the ability to spot a band or a musical talent and just know with absolute certainty, that they were what it was all about right now.  That they would be the next big thing.  Truly it was a gift.

I remember Grant and I driving up to the Grahamstown Blues Rock festival, that my dad and my mom had arranged and organised in 1996.  And my dad absolutely raving before the time, about this awesome new band that was just about to hit the scene.  He spoke about them non-stop.  He said they were radical and had the most amazing sound and stage personalities.  That their songs were mind blowing, their sound so cutting edge.  Their style unique, their vibe way out.  Their name was the Springbok Nude Girls.

We drove through the night, and surprised my folks in the early morning hours in the rental house they used for the duration of the Festival.  Still my Dad went on and on about the band.  And thus, by the time the gig happened that evening, we were pumped.  They had been built up so much, that we were positively crackling with anticipation.

However, from the opening bar, we were confused.  Grant and I shared a mutual horrified look.  This was not music!!!  And we should know.  We’re both music junkies and have always been.  Our taste varies from rock, to alternative, to grunge, to blues, to you-pretty-much-name-it.  But this?  What was this?  Arno, the front man, screamed into the mike, his lyrics so distorted, we couldn’t make out even a single word.  Their show was exceptionally energetic and they jumped, ran and really banged it all out on stage.  Volume was key.  The guitars were screaming, the trumpet was blaring, the drumming was loud, the vocals ear deafening.

And Frankie?  Well, he stood there with a huge big grin.  Simply lapping it up and enjoying every single minute.  Grant and I shook our heads at each other.  Clearly old Frankie had finally lost the plot.  Yet, when he intercepted our looks, we gave him huge big grins and happy smiles.  Even returning the big thumbs up he showed us.

Yip, we thought he was cooked in the head.

But, the funny thing, was that Frankie was spot on.  Once again.  So very, very, very right.  The Nudies were simply huge.  And their studio songs were gaining lots of airplay on the radio.  What is more, is that Grant and I absolutely loved their recorded music.  We bought each and every CD they ever brought out.  We listened to their CD’s, cover to cover, over and over and over again.  We eagerly anticipated every new release, and usually bought it the very first day too.  We listened to them at home and in the car, even little Luke eventually knew their songs.

They were brilliant.  Truly gifted.  Visionaries and ground breakers in their field and their era.

And by the time, we saw lots of them again live, at the 1999 Grahamstown Blues Rock Festival, we were nearly acclimatised to their live performances.  NOT for the faint hearted.  In fact, we even liked them a lot.  Mostly because we now knew exactly what words Arno was screaming into the mike.  We also got to obviously meet the guys, as we went up to Grahamstown to help Maggie in the office, and run the festival.  Grant was part of the security team and I helped with admin stuff.  They were genuinely nice guys.  In fact imagine my surprise when I discovered that Arno was able to have a normal conversation, without resorting to screaming?  It hardly seemed likely that he was the same energetic guy on stage.

Still, I know with clarity, that I would not have had the foresight, to be able to pinpoint with certainty, that they were the going to be huge.  Real South African music royalty in fact.  Arno is a musical icon.  And the fact that him and Albert are such good friends and have collaborated together so often is amazing.  They have a wonderful friendship and often call each other “my brother from another mother”.  Their joint musical ventures are beautiful and I include a clip from one of their songs, used on SA TV for a Volkswagen Touareg ad.

Wherever my Dad is right now, he’s bursting with pride.  He would have just been so blown away. 

You did good Frankie.  You did good. – Managing Mula.  If memory serves, this is the first song they played that very first night that we saw them.  I could not make out even a single word.  I didn’t even know the human mouth could make noises like that.  And in comparison to the original live version of Grahamstown 1996, this is rather tame and mellowed out.  Still, you get the wacky slightly distorted wha-wha type sound. – This is the original Volkswagen Touareg ad.  It really put the song on the map, as well as Albert and Arno’s sound together.  They wrote this song together. – This is the official music video they made for the Another Universe song.
Frankie with his assembled crew.  All of the bands together.  Frankie seated in the bottom row, third from the left, with Maggie sitting between his legs.  Such a proud moment for him.  Some of the guys and bands there included the Nudies, Edgar our pal, Valiant Swart, Squeal, Urban Creep, Willem Moller (now of Searching for Sugarman fame), Dorp, and of course our very own Blues Broers.

Frankie the visionary - right in the front, with the white shirt, braces and signature fag in his hand

Grahamstown Martell Blues Rock Festival 1996 - legendary!
Albert and Arno

Albert and Arno again

The Springbok Nude Girls


  1. Your dad had amazing foresight! He also saw Albert's potential. I will always remember those Grahamstown festivals very fondly. I loved being Mar-tell.Impossible without family help and support.

  2. awesome! what an inspirational read. thank you! Any musical talent worth their steal in this country has, somewhere along the lines and chords, touched sides with one or more of these awe-inspiring legends. The level headed hierarchy of SA music that never frown away from a single fan. thank you.

  3. awesome! Setting the stage and inspiring, awe-inspiring us all. Thank you.