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.
Is there such a thing as a Workers Union for musicians ?
Nice Warren Ludski, to remind all of the living legends of the CT music scene — from this side of the line, van die Saalon in Church Street, where rounds of golf on a sunny day and many jams of note with ouens who eventually represented CT finest innovators musically. Many have passed since, having left only good memories and legacies and very little else. Stephen sadly, who now after a very rich contribution musically, unfortunately has to deal with challenging times in his sunset years. It is an all to familiar scenario with many forgotten haymakers of yesteryear. After many discussions, promises, and debates over many recent years by government and industry captains, it is still the same old same old for the old musos — okes sukkel ma en gaan aan met die blink kant bo…
I’ve worked with Steven for about 2 years and have loved the guy ever since, he’s the sweetest person if you really get to know him,I’m Godfather to his oldest Son and still in contact with his Family, if anyone deserves a Benefit Concert its that Brother.
When ever I meet up with him I feel sorry for him but then you get that warm smile and hug from him and you forget what he’s going through, this guy IS special!