There’s hardly been a band that veteran bassist Stephen Erasmus hasn’t played with in his almost 50 years of plying his trade. He has seen it all, played it all and done it all. He’s played the length and breadth of Southern Africa, played Malaysia, played the Continent.
Yet, at 62, he doesn’t have much to show for it.
He is on a pension of R1000, he has long-term health issues which requires medication that costs R1200 a month.
But he isn’t all that fazed. He says if nothing else, he leaves a musical legacy — helping to define the sound that was known as goema and is now Cape jazz — that is the staple diet of serious music lovers in Cape Town.
He composes a bit and plays the occasional gig, but it is a far cry from those heady days of the Seventies and Eighties when his home at 27 Church Street in Athlone was the centre of the universe for local musicians and hosted the likes of Winston Mankuku, Robbie Jansen, the Dyers brothers, Tony Cedras, Bheki Mseleku, Russell Herman, Mervyn Africa.
It is a familiar story with too many of our musicians. The rewards for providing so much pleasure for so many over the years is abysmal. It is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Read The Trials of Triumphs of Stephen Erasmus at Music Legends of Cape Town and click on the Interviews with Artists tab. Feel free to leave a comment at end of the interview, particularly if you can help to add value to the debate regarding the fortunes of our best known musicians in their declining years.