John Edmond - Boer War in Song


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Review Text JOHN EDMOND was born on 18 November 1936 of Scottish parents in Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia); on the Roan Antelope copper mine. His father, described by John as "a colourful character" was a miner, prospector, war hero and mechanical engineer and died in Scotland in 1992 at the age of 96. His mother passed away during a heart operation while John was in his teens. John's childhood was a varied one with his parents moving between Scotland and Central Africa. He attended school in Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia, Edinburgh, Scotland, and in South Africa at Christian Brothers College in Pretoria. He displayed a strong affinity to music at an early age. Given a mouth organ as a birthday gift from his grandmother, three year old John mastered the instrument within half an hour! As a boy scout in Luanshya he took to the bugle and played in the local scout bugle band. While at school in Edinburgh he was chosen to sing in the famous St John's boy's choir and regularly featured in lead roles at Christian Brothers College in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. The college's pipe band was John's first love however and, as leading drummer, he went on to win the South African Junior drumming championships at the Royal Scottish gathering at Wembley in 1953. After school John found employment at the Roan Antelope copper mine in their punched card division. After some time he opted to join the (Southern) Rhodesian Army in Bulawayo which saw him serve in the Congo (now Zaire), Nyasaland (now Malawi and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). During this time John bought his first guitar at a trading store for one pound. In the army he met Bill Coleman and as two musically ignorant troopers they learnt to play the guitar by trading chord shapes and ideas. John soon roped his army pals, Eugene van der Watt and Ian Kerr in, to form the Bushcats Skiffle Group. The group was a huge success among it's peers and progressed into cabaret and rock 'n roll. After his military stint, an aptitude test at the copper mine resulted in John's selection to study computers at Moore Hall in England. During this time he hitch-hiked around Europe and met up with Rob de Nijs in Amsterdam (who later became the "Cliff Richard" of Holland) John and Rob played as a duo in the pubs of Amsterdam's dock area. The Bushcats with John Edmond On his return to Rhodesia, the Bushcats re-grouped, performing around the country until the band's demise in 1967 when John applied for the position of computer programmer/analyst with the Greatermans group in South Africa. In his spare time, John concentrated on folk music and played at the Nite Beat, the Troubadour and many other Johannesburg folk music venues. Seeing the potential for a folk trio he urged ex-Bushcat Allan Goodwin and Stevie van Kerken (Lange) to leave Rhodesia and join him in forming the New Trends Folk Trio. A two LP recording contract with Louis Combrink and Anton de Waal on the EMI label brought them much acclaim and after their hit, "Gypsy Man" they were dubbed South Africa's "Seekers". They once played at a Royal Command Performance in Swaziland for the Duke and Duchess of Kent. After two years in cabaret the group disbanded and each member went solo - Stevie later singing as a backing vocalist for Elton John. In the meantime song writing had become John's major priority. After being rejected as a singer by several record companies, he was bluntly informed: "stick to writing, you're no singer". Write he did, with great success for artists such as Nick Taylor, Pat Gregory, John Berks, Four Jacks and a Jill, Dave Mills, Barbara Ray and many others. Four Jack and a Jill's "Sad Little Pigeon" entered Billboard's chart in the USA, Pat Gregory's "Mr Dreamer" charted in South Africa and John Berks dented the LM hit parade with "Ek is 'n Ge". In 1970 John won the award for Best Folk Song in the South Africa Song Festival (Previously known as the Durban Song Festival) with "A New Generation", which was sung by Ted Lynn. In 1

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