Lucky Dube

Lucky Philip Dube (3 August 1964-18 October 2007) was a South African reggae musician and Rastafarian. He recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period and was South Africa’s best & biggest-selling reggae artist. Dube was murdered in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville on the evening of 18 October 2007. He was first married to Thobekile  Ngcobo in 1989.

Lucky Dube was born in Ermelo, formerly of the Eastern Transvaal, now of Mpumalanga, on 3 August 1964. His parents separated before his birth, and he was raised by his mother, who named him Lucky because she considered his birth fortunate after a number of failed pregnancies. Along with his two siblings, Thandi and Patrick, Dube spent much of his childhood with his grandmother, Sarah, while his mother relocated to work. In a 1999 interview, he described his grandmother as “his greatest love” who “multiplied many things to bring up this responsible.

 

 

As a child Dube worked as a gardener but, as he matured, realizing that he wasn’t earning enough to feed his family, he began to attend school. There he joined a choir and with some friends, formed his first musical ensemble, called the Skyway Band. While at school he discovered the Rastafari movement. At the age of 18 Dube joined his cousin’s band, The Love Brothers, playing Zulu pop music known as mbaganga whilst founding his lifestyle by working for Hole and Cooke as a security guard at the car auctions in Midrand. The band signed with Teal Record Company, under Richard Siluma (Teal was later incorporated into Gallo Record Company). Though Dube was still at school, the band recorded material in Johannesburg during his school holidays. The resultant album was released under the name Lucky Dube and the Supersoul. The second album was released soon afterwards, and this time Dube wrote some of the lyrics in addition to singing. It was around this same time when he began to learn English.

On the release of his fifth album, Dave Segal (who became Dube’s sound engineer) encouraged him to drop the “Supersoul” element of the name. All subsequent albums were recorded as Lucky Dube. At this time Dube began to note fans were responding positively to some reggae songs he played during live concerts. Drawing inspiration from Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh, he felt the socio-political messages associated with Jamaican reggae were relevant to a South African audience in an institutionally racist society.

He decided to try the new musical genre and in 1984, released the mini album Rastas Never Die. The record sold poorly- around 4000 units- in comparison to the 30,000 units his mbaganga records would sell. Keen to suppress anti-apartheid regime banned the album in 1985, because of its critical lyrics, for instance in the song “War and Crime.” However, he was not discouraged and continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae tracks live. Think About The Children (1985). It achieved platinum sales status and established Dube as a popular reggae artist in South Africa, in addition to attracting attention outside his homeland.

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